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 🙂

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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?

 

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

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

 

5 Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy

The last segment in this health series focuses on family health. Growing up, my family always had a rule to take your shoes off when entering in the house. We’ve also kept this tradition and it definitely keeps the house cleaner with less dirt and germs entering the living space.

keeping your family healthy

There are so many reasons why we moms want to keep our family as healthy as possible, not least because our kids are a pain to look after when they get ill and the man-flu our partners complain of is unbearable to live with. That alone is reason enough to go above and beyond the call of duty and make sure that we are doing all we can in the healthy family stakes.

Water Not Food

Overeating a is a big issue at the moment, a pandemic that has certainly taken America by storm. So, the next time your kid says they are hungry, instead of reaching for a snack packed full of E-numbers, given them a glass of water instead. The reason you should do this is thirst and hunger can be really hard to differentiate, meaning your kids could actually be thirsty instead of hungry. Of course, your kids may complain because they don’t like water, in which case you should spruce it up a bit with some sliced fruit and tell them to enjoy.

Always Wash Hands

Pretty much every type of cold, flu or viral bacteria is spread through hand-to-hand contact, which is exactly why you should encourage your kids to get their scrub on. It is just the most effective way to protect your family from catching all those things that are out there. Get into the habit of your kids cleaning their hands every time they come into the house. That, or start having antibacterial hand wash dotted about your home.

Doctor On-Call

Going to the doctor every time your partner gets the man-flu (and claims it is life threatening) or your kids say their tummy hurts is a tiring process. Booking an appointment, getting into the car, sitting in a waiting room full of people with contagious flu’s, and all that sort of stuff is time-consuming. That is why you should join the 21st century and sign up to 365 Doc. You can get a doctor’s opinion from anywhere using your phone and not have to suffer any waiting times or run the risk of catching the actual flu when nothing was wrong in the first place. Oh, the irony.

No Shoes Policy

Wearing shoes around your house is a surefire way to encourage the spread of germs. Think about it. You’ve been wearing your shoes outside, stomping around in pesticides, germs, toxins, allergens and whatever else, and now you’re stomping them into the floor of your home. We read one statistic that said the sole of each shoe contains over 400,000 bacteria. So, yeah, take them off at the door and leave them there. Simple.

Stretch As A Family

Why not add a little stretching into your morning routine. Wake up, come down stairs, pop the kettle on, and then have a little stretch together while you wait. You don’t need to go overboard and start learning a thousand different yoga poses. Just a reaching up into the air and then trying to touch your toes a few times over will be enough to get your circulation going, and that will keep your immune system running high.

How to Get Better Posture

The second post in this series of health collaborations is about posture. Good posture is not only good for your body’s alignment but can also enhance your self confidence. My biggest key to better posture that is also mentioned later in this post is core and abdominal strength. Some of my favorite core exercises here.

Posture is more important than many people think. With correct posture, you are likely to live longer, have far less trouble with aches and pains in old age, and even  – some studies suggest – live a happier life. But poor posture seems to be almost something of an epidemic at the moment. If you are concerned that your posture is not quite as good as it could be, you will be glad to know that there are a number of steps you can take to improve it. Many of these are relatively simple and straightforward, and yet can make a huge difference to how you live your life.

Developing A Mindfulness Of Body

One of the most important changes you can possibly make is to start to be a little more mindful of what your body is actually doing from moment to moment. Many people go through their daily lives not really paying close attention to their bodies. This inattentiveness can lead on to many problems, and bad posture is just one of them. The more aware you are of what your back is actually doing, the better equipped you will be to keep it – literally – on the straight and narrow.

There are certain times in the day when it is particularly beneficial to practise this. When you are sitting, particularly at a desk, try to remain aware of how your back is arched. Similarly, when you are walking you can use that time to simply pay attention to how you hold yourself. This simple act of drawing attention to your body is only the first step, but it is one of the most vital, and even just doing that is likely to make a difference at first.

Giving Yourself The Gift Of Sleep

Sleep is a hugely important health concern as it is, but it is especially relevant when it comes to trying to improve your posture. Many people often completely overlook the importance of their sleeping position and comfortability, but it is vital if you are truly serious about keeping your posture strong and healthy. Fortunately, there is plenty that you can do to improve your quality of sleep.

First, take a look at how comfortable – or not – your bed is. If it is not comfortable, it is more likely that you will shift around as you sleep, and this in itself can often be a cause of poor posture. Similarly, if you are sleeping on a mattress which is either too hard or too soft,  your posture will suffer – and besides, you will be causing harm to your back in the long run anyway. You should aim for a mattress which supports you, but does not envelop you. This plush beds mattress review gives an example of the kind of mattress which offers a good level of support. Remember that your pillows are important too – memory foam is a healthy option here, and you should endeavor to support your neck a little too.

It’s not just the bed itself however. If you are not sleeping as soundly as you could, you might be causing harm to your back, and making your posture in waking life much worse. Therefore, it is also important to carry out any other essential tasks aimed at improving your quality of sleep. This could mean working to get the temperature just right, choosing calming colors for your decor, and limiting the amount of caffeine you have in your diet. It all helps.

Training Your Body

Many people who want to improve their posture will carry out the things mentioned above first and foremost, without too much hassle. But many fewer people will ever look to training their body more generally. However, the better in shape you stay, the more chance you have of retaining a decent posture throughout your life. Training is vital – but what kind of training is best for this specific aim? The answer might surprise you.

Most of all, you need to make sure that you are working to stabilize your core. There are many specific workouts you can do to achieve this. The single leg extension, for example, can be particularly beneficial. In this exercise, you lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and your hands behind your head. Then it is a case of pulling your navel in and up towards your spine. Done right and repeatedly, this can improve your core hugely. That, in turn, means that your core muscles will find it easier to hold your body upright, therefore improving your posture naturally.

With a little concentration and some basic changes, you can improve your posture easily and quickly. Doing so will automatically lead to a better way of life, and this is something that anyone should consider doing.