Loving where you live

11 moves in 11 years of marriage. Now that Brent has started school we hope to stay here for a long time. We’ve loved getting to move around and see all parts of the country. One of the best parts of moving so much is being able to be a tourist in your own city, we’ve always been really excited to check out the best views, attractions, hidden gems and food in all the cities we’ve lived in. There really has been amazing things about each place we’ve called ‘home’ even if only for a short while – from the historical sites in DC, the BBQ in TX, the canyons in UT and the castles in Scotland. I feel like we feel settled here in Chino Hills and one of my favorite things about this suburban gem is all the parks and hiking trails. While we haven’t taken advantage of the hiking trails and state park (that supposedly have redwoods!) that are just minutes from us, we have because of the kids checked out a ton of parks. Chino Hills has a lot of open space preserved which is one of the most beautiful things about it. We are close to LA but far enough away to feel definitely suburban. One of my favorite places to walk around with the kids is the Chino Wetlands. It’s actually near a prison and an industrial area but inside the park is very peaceful!

chino ca wetlands park

chino ca wetlands park

chino ca wetlands parkchino ca wetlands parkchino ca wetlands parkchino ca wetlands parkchino ca wetlands parkchino ca wetlands park  chino ca wetlands park

chino ca wetlands park

Advertisements

Museum of Ice Cream

We finally were able to go to the Museum of Ice Cream here in LA after purchasing tickets back in April! They’ve sold out in every city they’ve been in so I feel lucky we were able to get tickets. It was very visually appealing and had tons of cool art. I kind of thought it would be more like a museum, as in educational, it was more like an exhibition which was still very interesting. We did get to sample some pretty good ice cream and thought the museum was well run.

museum of ice cream LA

museum of ice cream LA

museum of ice cream LA

museum of ice cream LA

museum of ice cream LA

museum of ice cream LA    museum of ice cream LA museum of ice cream LA museum of ice cream LA  museum of ice cream LA

museum of ice cream LA

Fall y’all

Growing up in Southern CA, I never was really aware of seasons until obviously moving to Utah for school. Since then, we’ve lived in cold climates, snow, extreme cold and extreme hot. I enjoy fall when the temperatures drop a little, the breeze picks up and evenings are so cool and pleasant. My favorite falls were when we lived in Virginia and the trees and changing colors were unreal! Today was the first day in LA area that it felt a little like fall, and only in the morning. This weekend brings another heat wave, ha, ha!

CA fall  fall outfit Tobi fall outfit Tobi sunrise necklace

fall outfit Tobi

CA fall

CA fallCA fall pumpkin patch

We’re looking forward to the fun things that fall brings besides maybe a small drop in temperature – dressing the kids up for Halloween and the upcoming holidays. This is the first time in our 11 years of marriage that we’ve lived in CA and it’ll be so nice not to have to travel far or in poor weather to be with family!

Wearing: grey cardigan / sun necklace / black top / birkenstocks / denim / Dr. Scholls leopard flats / lularoe leggings / thank you to Tobi for partnering on this post and for having affordable clothes that fit my style 🙂

How to Save Hundreds per Month on “Fixed” Expenses

This article is obviously not written by me as I’m not the best with money but I found it interesting and informative. Since before we got married, we’ve tried to find ways to save money and cut expenses. It’s something we are constantly doing since that time 11 years ago and even now we find there are little things we can improve on. Sure I still, years later, miss my magazine subscriptions but in the long run, am glad we have been able to travel, relocate, have kids, a house, etc.

Thanks, Christine, for guest posting this article 🙂

When you sit down to determine your budget, you probably divide your expenses into “fixed” and “variable.” This is a great way to find wiggle room and cut back on certain indulgences. We immediately take a good look at how much we spend on eating out, entertainment, and gasoline. However, sometimes we don’t label those “fixed” expenses correctly. In fact, there are a lot of things that you can do to reduce your payments on things that seem like inflexible necessities. For example, utilities often seem out of our power. No matter what, you’re going to want heating in your house, you must have insurance, and cutting back on an internet connection will significantly reduce your quality of life (and sometimes even your job prospects.) But at the same time, these costs could be draining your finances much more than necessary, as this article points out.

There are often ways to cut back that we don’t even notice. You can get the same services for cheaper when you shop around, you can bundle and save, you can cut back on parts of a bundle that aren’t giving you any value, or you can play hardball and make a deal with your service provider. Think outside the box, consider everything flexible, and if you really want to cut back on your expenses, then make some changes! Here are some ideas:

Renegotiate Your Internet Bill

It’s surprising to most of us how flexible the monthly internet payment is. First of all, take a good look at whether or not you need the best package. Households seldom need more than 40 mbps, unless they have several gamers playing at once. My household of three simultaneous streaming services going at a time was just fine at 30 mbps. Additionally, don’t get suckered into added-on cable services and landlines if you don’t actually use them. Even if you get it for just a few dollars more per month, it’s not worth it if you don’t actually want to use it. Then, start playing hardball.  I’ve talked down internet providers from an 80$/month deal to $25. Do some research, look up deals online. Compare the prices for your current provider with a competitor in the area. Think of a number that you want and then doggedly ask for it. Don’t forget to follow up on it, too, to make sure that it becomes your regular payment.

Cut Back on Electricity

There are some things you can do to significantly reduce your electric bill without even changing your habits. First of all, replace your regular halogen light bulbs with LEDs. They take significantly less electricity and last longer. Then, add some powerstrips for your entertainment system. All of those plugs can drain a lot of energy, even when they’re not in use. Set those power strips so that you turn everything off when not in use.

Look over Your Cell Phone Bill

We know you want the best. There’s nothing more annoying than dropping an important call, or struggling to get data when you need to look something up. However, if you can cut your bill in half, it might just be worth waiting until you have a WiFi connection to look up that particular YouTube video. Start shopping around and see if a different network will give you a better deal. You might even find a better deal within your own network, by moving to a different plan, and making sure that calls to your most frequent contacts aren’t crippling you.

Save on Heating

If you live somewhere with cold winters, then you might notice that your utility bill spikes as soon as the holidays start. To a certain point this is inevitable. However, there are ways that you can minimize the cost of heating your house for the winter. First of all, do some weather-proofing and insulation. Heavy curtains on the windows, weather-stripping around doors and windows, and insulation in the walls and especially the attic can all make your gas use much more efficient. Get a blanket for your hot water heater. Its cost is minimal and it will save you a few dollars per month, quickly paying for itself. You can also lower the temperature of your hot water heater. How often have you put your hands under scalding hot water and realized it really doesn’t need to come out of the faucet that hot?

Review Your Subscriptions

This is especially important for entertainment subscriptions. Magazines, streaming services, even your Amazon Prime account are all luxuries. Sometimes you can share a subscription with someone else. Other times, you realize you really don’t need to keep up on that one show. Look at things like gym memberships and club fees.

Don’t Take Debts at Face Value

Is a significant chunk of your monthly income going towards something like student debt or medical bills? There are often ways to reduce those payments. Think about refinancing a mortgage, consolidating loans, and prioritizing debts or loans that charge crazy interest rates, and getting those paid off first.

Car Payments

Alright, ready to really take a chunk out of your monthly bill? Look at your cars. How much gas and upkeep do they take? Are you making car loan payments? Could you get by with one less car than what you have? Could you perhaps downgrade for a cheaper vehicle and reduce your monthly costs on the loan? Could you get a vehicle that takes a lot less gas? Could you use public transit for your commute, or bike to get errands done?

What are your best ideas for cutting back on “fixed” expenses?

 

*Updated* Favorite Product for Fuller Lashes: Rimmel Lash Accelerator

I’ve never had full, long lashes but I’ve never had the desire to pay a lot of money for that look. I do love how lash extensions look but it seems like a big cost and maintenance. There’s lots of serums and products out there, I found this one by Rimmel on Amazon and chose it based on reviews and price ($8!)

Before:  rimmel lash accelerator

After:

 rimmel lash accelerator

 rimmel lash accelerator

rimmel lash accelerator serum

The serum is super easy to use, you just brush it on the base of your lashes and use the lash stick or the brush. I use it every night before bed and have used about half the bottle as of now. I definitely saw results and feel my lashes are longer. It’s not the same volume you would get with extensions, but for $8 I am super happy with this product!

rimmel lash accelerator serum

11/29/17 – I’m now about 75% finished with the tube of lash serum. I’m still loving this product and here are some recent results:

rimmel lash accelerator serum

rimmel lash accelerator serum rimmel lash accelerator serum

German Pancakes with crispy edges recipe

This past weekend was General Conference and we enjoyed one of our favorite breakfasts – German Pancakes! We make them for special occasion breakfasts like Christmas and General Conference. It’s one of my favorite traditions because we all love them and they’re very easy to make! The recipe we use came from Dave’s family and we’ve tweaked it to have the edges crispy which I love.

The recipe (below) is very easy to make and doesn’t require much time to bake. My toppings of choice are either fruit or powdered sugar and Dave and the kids like syrup or fruit.german pancakes recipe

GERMAN PANCAKES RECIPE crispy edges

October: 2nd annual ‘Buy 1, give 1’

For the month of October, I’ll be doing the ‘Buy 1, give 1‘ project I started last year. After years of knitting scarves for homeless shelters and refugees, I decided last year to do a month where you can buy a hand-knit scarf and another one will be made and donated to a homeless of refugee shelter. In previous years, scarves have been knit and donated to shelters in Salt Lake City, Utah, Northern Virginia, and Texas.

If you’d like to buy one, they’re available for purchase through my Etsy shop or you can contact me directly.

buy 1 give 1 scarves for homeless and refugees

buy 1 give 1 scarves for homeless and refugees

Trying a triathlon

This past weekend, Dave and I did our first sprint triathlon! Before the kids were born, we used to love riding our bikes together, running and exercising together. While we didn’t really get to train together (to be honest, neither of us trained very well in general ha, ha!) it was so fun to be able to do the race together! Dave was nice enough to stay with me the whole time and it was just refreshing to be outside together, enjoying the sunrise and peace.

The race was a reverse triathlon – run (5K), bike (12 miles), swim (150 yards) – in Apple Valley which is a small town a little over an hour north of Chino Hills. The course was everything we could’ve hope for – very flat and the swim was in a pool (as opposed to an ocean or lake which I wouldn’t have liked) and was very warm and clean. The race was through Apple Valley city and was very well organized.

The weather was perfect that morning and my parents were kind enough to come up Friday night and spend the night here to watch the kids during the race and take Brent to his t-ball game. Both Dave and I liked the reverse tri with the swim at the end, we would definitely do this race again!

 apple valley reverse sprint triathlon

apple valley reverse sprint triathlon apple valley reverse sprint triathlonapple valley reverse sprint triathlon

Ideas for a Nutrient Rich Breakfast

Family and breakfast foods are some of my favorite things! Breakfast is usually the rushed meal during the weekdays, especially now that Brent started morning kindergarten. I enjoyed this article of easy, healthy breakfast ideas:

By Alek S.

It’s a cliche, at this point, to say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; we’ve all heard it before! However, being a cliche doesn’t make it any less true. A fulfilling breakfast can make or break your day, as it gives you a jumpstart to feel refreshed and the energy to go about the rest of your day. For this reason, you want to make sure that your breakfast is full of the nutrients that you need to get a proper start to the day.

Having a good diet in the morning will help both your physical and mental health. Nutrient-rich breakfasts can even help you lose weight, since you’re more able to resist mid-morning snacking, and make better food choices throughout the day. Proper nutrition can also have a powerful effect on your mental state throughout the day. Here are some ideas of how you can make your breakfast more nutrient rich…

Eat more eggs

Research has shown that higher egg consumption is correlated with lower amounts of heart disease. You’ve probably heard about all sorts of things concerning whether you should just eat the yolk, or just eat the white, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the specifics. Just eating eggs in the morning gives you a boost that is high in protein, yet relatively few calories. For any superstart breakfast, including eggs helps you get a leg up on the day and makes you feel full, without feeling bloated.

Use smoothies

If you need something easy to take on the go, then a smoothie that is full of different yogurt, fruits, and veggies can help you pack a heavy concentration of nutrients that can brighten your day. You can pretty much customize a smoothie to offer as many vitamins and nutrients as you want, which makes them a great breakfast for people who are looking for a specific diet.

Include supplements into your recipes

You can add nutrients to any meal that you make by including supplements that give more nutritional value. There are supplements that include protein or vitamins that don’t do much to change the flavor of a meal. However, you can also use supplements as part of the recipe to actually enhance the flavor of your breakfast. One example of this that is popular, nowadays, is using matcha tea powder in breakfast pastries, such as pancake, waffles, or even matcha scones! Matcha can add plenty of antioxidants and vitamins.

Use wheat flour

When you are making pancakes, scones, waffles, crepes, or anything of that ilk, it’s important to make the most of the carbohydrates. For this reason, you can add some extra nutrients to your breakfast by using wheat flour, in place of regular flour. Wheat flour will have a very different reaction to being baked than your typical white flour, but it is definitely still suitable to make things like pancakes. Wheat flour will pack a lot more of a nutritional punch, and it’s going to make you feel less weighed down than breakfast bread-based foods that are made from white flour.

Add more oatmeal

Whenever in doubt, almost add a small bowl of oats to your breakfast to give you a little extra health kick. Oats are a whole grain full of various vitamins and minerals, as well as an excellent source of fiber. Oats are also one of most protein and fat-rich grains that give you carbohydrates, as well as a healthy dose of other macronutrients. Oats have also been proven to lower cholesterol levels, and help decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease.

Berries

Including various types of berries into your morning routine is always a good idea (berries also make excellent snacks throughout the rest of the day). When you add together a cup of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, you have an excellent source of fiber that helps your body’s metabolism operate efficiently. Berries are also shown to increase the amount of good cholesterol in your body (HDL), while still lowering blood pressure.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt can make for an incredibly easy way to get a nutritional kick in the morning, since it contains a high amount of protein and probiotics. Yogurt also makes you feel more full, which means that you’ll be less inclined to eat empty calories.

*Looking to add more protein to your diet? Check out my favorite, easy recipe for protein bites!

Wet brush: favorite de-tangler

One of my favorite things about Tessa is her curly hair! Right after she was born, one of the nurses exclaimed, ‘She has so much hair!’ Guess the old wives’ tale about heartburn and the amount of hair a newborn has is true, ha, ha! We’ve never cut her hair because I love it so much and it’s grown out pretty evenly. People always think I curl and style it which is nice since it just dries in nice ringlets! I can’t remember where I first saw an ad for the Wet Brush but as Tessa’s naturally curly hair is getting longer and less easy to untangle, I decided to try it.

We found a 2 pack on Amazon so I actually use one on my own hair too. This is by far the best product we use for Tessa’s hair. Before we were using a wide tooth comb and a de-tangle spray. The Wet Brush is easy to use and does a fantastic job! I always start brushing at the ends and with Tessa then in sections. It’s much easier to use than our previous method. wet brush wet brushwet brush