Staying Healthy Through the Holidays

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It’s that time of year:  with every kiss under the mistletoe comes a little cough…where holiday gatherings inevitably bring along the sniffles…when those quick gift runs result in a sneeze session.  Unfortunately the holiday season is also known as cold & flu season.  While a trip to the doctor might be needed when you come down with something nasty, I wanted to share a few “stay healthy” tips & tricks to help survive the season symptom-free.

Indulge in a little Self-care:  A relaxing escape, an expert massage service is a tool to keep you sane amidst the inevitable chaos of Christmas.  A professional one-hour massage is the perfect way to de-stress and for your first visit, Hand and Stone offers them for just $49.95!  Hand & Stone is a 275-plus unit massage and facial spa franchise with a mission to bring massage and facial services to the masses.  Is there one in your ‘hood?  With locations in 29 states and Canada, they make it super-easy to squeeze in an appointment time that works with your packed schedule.  Do it!  This is the best gift you could give yourself as we lead up to the busy holiday season.

Change out those Toothbrushes:  Has anyone ever told ya to switch out your toothbrush whenever you catch a cold?  –Not sure if there is any scientific evidence behind that advice but I think there is something to it!  Regardless, no one can deny the importance of oral health and its connection to our overall well-being.  Besides the obvious benefits of oral hygiene, did you know a clean mouth means warding off potential non-oral health problems, like heart attack, stroke and even preterm labor?  As the ADA reports, a healthy mouth means a healthy body.360-toothbrushThe HartFelt 360 Toothbrush is the world’s first 360 degree toothbrush and revolutionizes your brushing experience with unparalleled cleaning power.

  • Cleans more than twice the amount of plaque than a standard manual toothbrush
  • Effective without the use of toothpaste! (Perfect for my tiny tot…her doc has advised holding off on toothpaste until after age 2)
  • Ensures proper brushing

Be Prepared:  Stock up that medicine cabinet now, because there’s nothing worse than being sick during the holidays.  Fortunately, for those of us under the weather, there’s Chloraseptic, the #1 sore throat relief brand.  Have their throat lozenges on hand when you travel, too.  The air on airplanes is very dry – which can cause a sore, scratchy throat. These berry-flavored lozenges are a yummy, fast-acting method to soothe coughs & keep your throat feeling great.chloraseptic

Stay Hydrated!:  As the days become shorter and the temperatures drop below freezing, it’s only natural to daydream about a tropical vacation. But when traveling isn’t possible, INVO Coconut Water “Tropical” can transport you to the beach without ever leaving your home or office.coconut-waterINVO Tropical is packed with 5 essential electrolytes, low in sugar and 99% fat free. With a great source of vitamins C and B, INVO’s cold pasteurization process locks in all the nutrients, giving that freshly cracked coconut experience, just as nature intended. It is never frozen, never heated and has nothing artificial added, making it a healthy beverage choice to experience the tropics without the guilt.

 

Alternative Christmas Gift Idea for Families with Kids: Memberships & Season Passes

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That Hatchimal on their Christmas list gone out of stock?  Tired of kids with their eyeballs glued to a video game?  Or (in our case), does your toddler actually play with the box more than the toy inside?  Consider giving the gift of shared experiences this year!  –Not only shared experiences, but a gift the whole family can use year ’round.  I’m talking about the gift of memberships:  wether it be season passes to a local amusement park or an annual family admission package to their local zoo; memberships are a unique way to ensure you give the gift that keeps on giving.  Here are a couple GREAT options local to Austin:

  1.  Thinkery:  thinkery-2Austin’s official children’s museum is a wealth of opportunity for fun & learning for families with kids of all ages & stages.  They put on a slew of summer camps, reserve a “Baby Bloomers” morning just for the littlest crawlers, host a number of special events throughout the year, etc.  As my “Community Placement” with Junior League of Austin, I volunteered there a couple years ago to help with summer camps and kinda feel in love with the place.  Their exhibits are rooted in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education — it’s almost as if you can see the little cogs spinning in their minds as they interact & play.  The Family Membership is $99/year and grants general admission for a family of four at each visit BUT there are a number of pricing options to suit each family’s needs, including monthly giving.thinkery-1
  2. Toybrary:  A library is to books as Toybrary is to toys. –Super-cool concept, right!?  Toybrary is a toy-lending library and kids’ birthday party venue that also offers drop-in childcare.  Parents and children can stay & play and then check-out their favorite pieces to take home for awhile.  toybrary-1Here’s the dollar-by-dollar breakdown:  the average family in the U.S. spends $740 a year on toys if they have one child, and $1,200 a year on toys if they have two children. (PRWeb.com)  With Toybrary memberships at $40 per month & a year’s membership adding up to $420, the savings most families see is over $300 per year!  If you go once a week, and check out 3 toys each time, the kids get to use 12 toys per month.  But don’t forget, families can visit and exchange toys as often as they like.Toybrary 2.jpg

Life[style]: Nov. ’16 — Easy Natural Beauty Product Swaps

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Y’all know I love reviewing new beauty products but I especially love sharing the latest & greatest NATURAL beauty products!  To start exploring some natural product alternatives, I partnered with Whole Foods awhile back to review a few offerings from their Whole Body Department…read my reviews on all that good stuff here.  Anyway, I can’t figure out why I have trouble trusting the natural stuff because what these products stand for completely aligns with me.  I just have this stigma associated with them in my head that they don’t work as well as the regular stuff.  And I’m sorry, but my beauty bag is not an area where I’m willing to make some of the sacrifices that come along with more natural, eco-friendly living –hello, unbleached (& scratchy!) Seventh Generation baby diapers, toilet paper, paper towels…you’re good for the environment but you kinda suck.  

I’m still a little skeptic of the boom we’re seeing in the natural beauty product category BUT I’m slowly but surely being converted, one amazing discovery at a time.  I find it a pleasant surprise when a natural beauty or wellness product rises to or even exceeds expectations.  Natural Living aisle at H-E-B, I WANT to love you, I really do… and sometimes I actually fall for something!  Here are my suggestions for easy swaps if you’re wanting to incorporate some more natural/healthy products into your beauty routine:

ABBA Pure Performance Hair Care:  abbaPure products — it’s that simple!  For over 25 years, ABBA has made a commitment to formulating products with the cleanest ingredients available, while never sacrificing the performance that their customers demand.  Where possible, all ABBA products are formulated to be 100% Vegan, Gluten-Free and made without Parabens, DEA, Phathalates, Synthetic Color Additives, Sulfates and Sodium Chlorides.  Plus, the brand has a strict policy that animals can NEVER be used for testing in the creation, development or formulation of the products.

Schmidt’s Deodorant:  schmidtsLooking for all-day odor and wetness protection from a natural product?  –Say hello to Schmidt’s Deodorant!  Available in six alluring signature scents, Schmidt’s classic stick (pictured) and sustainable glass jars have earned their reputation as the natural deodorants that actually “get the job done.”  Schmidt’s award-winning formula starts with plant-based powders and moisturizing butters to ensure odor and wetness protection that allows for the body’s natural process of sweating while still keeping you dry.  Amazingly, Schmidt’s effectiveness can not only match that of chemical alternatives, but can actually outperform them without the use of aluminum or other controversial chemicals!  Available in both Stick & Jar application at Whole Foods Market.

SeabuckWonders:  What’s small, orange and powerful? If you said the rare baby Langur monkey, Oompa-Loompas or Donald Trump’s hands, then you’re not necessarily wrong; however, we’re talking about the sea buckthorn berry here (Dr. Oz’s “miracle berry”) and why this power-packed super fruit should be on everyone’s radar.sea-buckthornThis little berry not only has over 190 phytonutrients and fatty acids (ALL the omegas: 3, 6, 9 and the rare Omega-7) that help protect against many diseases (including breast cancer).  SeabuckWonders, the original sea buckthorn company, has been providing maximum potency sea buckthorn products for over two decades now. Their products are natural, non-GMO project verified, cruelty-free, too!

 

How to talk to your kids about the election

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I got up this morning to a gloomy rainy day in Austin, tired from staying up late to watch election results and pre-coffee cleaning of an epic poop-splosion by the toddler (it went all directions:  both up her back and down into her toes, dripped from the crib onto the carpet…so yeah, I woke up with bells on.)  However, this was a cringe-worthy wake-up-call for the history books:  the outcome of Election 2016 was finalized.  Donald Trump is President.  For me, the news was shocking, sobering, imminently grave, and unshakably disappointing.  Note:  Republican friends, ya don’t have to stop reading here…this post is not about Hillary, it’s about Jesus.current-moodThis selfie snap = my mood driving from home this morning:  angry Mozart on blast and wearing head-to-toe black, almost as if in mourning for the future of our nation.  Well, the Lord has a way of speaking to our hearts at exactly when we need to hear Him, amen?  I’m thankful the Pastors at the church where I attend a weekly parenting lecture series decided to be dynamic and timely and go off book to take a minute addressing what was weighing on all our hearts.  Before we began our regularly scheduled “Fearless Mom” lesson, the leaders took a few minutes to advise us mamas on how to talk to our kids about the election.election-sermonThe full video of their 17-minute message is linked above, but from my notes, I wanted to share some Scripture-based takeaways that helped me begin to Keep Calm and Carry On:

  • 1 Chronicles 28:20 — Tell your kids to be courageous (and model that behavior!)
    • David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-4 — Honor the office and pray for those with the position to succeed
    • I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
  • Hebrews 13:8 — In an uncertain era, we cling to the truth
    • Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

And finally, allow me to throw in the verse that will be my personal prayer for Trump:  Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

May God Bless America.

 

 

 

ADELE Live 2016…highlights of Adele’s concert in Montreal

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In honor of Adele’s sold out performances tonight & Saturday here in Austin, I wanted to share my experience seeing her in concert earlier this October.  Back in June (as my birthday gift!), my husband got us tickets to Adele’s Montreal stop of her world tour in Quebec, Canada.  He’s got a love affair with that city and figured it would make a perfect getaway weekend for the two of us.  Well, about two weeks before our trip, an important work commitment arose and after looking at all the options, we decided he just couldn’t make it work.  But no worries, because last minute he arranged for my good girl friend Marissa to fly up & meet me for the show!  adele-6Us girls had a short, whirlwind trip to Montreal…I landed the afternoon of the event and we packed a lot into those few hours we had to spare.  After meeting up downtown, we beelined to the perfect gourmet bistro for a fancy French-inspired lunch, complete with foie gras and rose’!  Then, she treated us to massages at the most unique spa concept:  a historic river ferry turned into a luxurious floating day spa in the Montreal harbor called Bota Bota.  It was a delightfully different way to unwind from our flights, take in the city skyline, and do something relaxing before the big show.adele-1We arrived to the venue a mere seconds before showtime but it was perfect timing!  Our seats were pretty high up but very close to the main stage.  And of course the sound, lighting, visuals, etc. were all stunning.  One thing I appreciated was that her face was up on the big screen the whole time…you could see up close how she sang each note & the emotion she put into every lyric.  No costume changes, just the right amount of pageantry, nothing superficial, perfectly classic timeless Adele.adele-2She performed for a full two-hours and showed us lots of personality in between sets!  Adele is very very funny, y’all!  We were cracking up — she was talking about how she’s trying to keep up with her work-outs on this tour but then she discovered Shake Shack during her pervious stop in NYC and those cheeseburgers did her in, haha!  Wonder if she’ll make a stop to one of our two Shake Shack locations while she’s in town?adele-3All the big chart-topping hits were sung, there was a short acoustic set, a couple covers, and best of all:  she told us the back stories.  She writes most of her own music and she really exposed herself emotionally by going in deep:  where she was living, at what point she was at in her career, where she stood in her love life, all of the nitty gritty & many times sad feelings that inspired her writing.  –Ah, Queen Adele crying, cold & wet, living and writing her songs in a dank, dark English basement…say it ain’t so!adele-4A few insights:  she told us that no, contrary to the tabloid reports, she is not pregnant.  She apologized for going away for so long but warned that she will go away yet again…that she needs & wants to be connected to her family and to live a real life and have real feelings in order to produce art that speaks to us.adele-5My favorite song of the night was Sweetest Devotion.  During the intro, Adele described how deep & different is the love for her son and talked about how motherhood changed her.  She was quite the prolific songwriter afterward, always writing, writing, writing pieces about her son.  Her producers cut a lot of it, but this one song stood out and it was thankfully included on her album, 25.  Well after hearing all that background, the song took on a new, more intense meaning for me personally and it was quite incredible to hear it performed live…ALL THE FEELS, let me tell ya.  Hearing her words & viewing them from the lens of myself as a new mother, both Marissa and I were moved to tears…it was a special moment for us mamas.

 

Highlights from our family holiday photo shoot {the greenhouse}

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Well, it’s November 1st.  Halloween is behind us.  The holiday season has begun!  Our family Christmas cards actually arrived from the printer’s last night, marking the occasion perfectly.  I went out around 10 p.m. to bring in the candy bowl and found the box sitting on the porch…my own little trick-or-treat surprise!dsc_3564We recently had the special opportunity to shoot our family holiday photos at Sekrit Theatre located in East Austin.  Our amazing photographer Laura Morsman had the contact & found the location, which is 2-acres of greenhouse, gardens, fountains, and artistic touches at every turn.  dsc_3572-2Although it’s private property and you do need an appt./permission to shoot there, I spoke with the owner at length before our session & he is opening it up as much as he can for photos.  The venue (his home) is his labor of love and called it like a cultural center…holding weddings there is donation-based, for example.
dsc_3602-2It’s sad, really:  due to some city zoning issues & complaints from neighbors, it’ll probably get all torn down and turned into condos soon.  You can read more about the plight of the our community’s “secret theater” here.  Go visit this little Austin gem while it’s still around! dsc_3674-2Today, I’m sharing photos from inside the greenhouse, but more moments from the rest of our shoot will be shared here on the blog & on my Instagram in the coming weeks.  THANK YOU Laura Morsman Photography!!!dsc_3781-2

Event Recap: Dry Society Styling Lounge debuts blow-dry studio near The Domain

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Dry Society Styling Lounge is North Austin’s newest blow dry studio specializing in blowouts, braids and fabulous up-dos.  My guest Alicia were ‘blown away’ at their lavish debut party the night of October 15th.  We had the pleasure of meeting Dry Society’s experienced team of stylists, owners, and their Creative Director, Rick Klepach.best-dry-societyConveniently located adjacent to The Domain, guests enjoyed sounds by DJ A/C, an open Veuve Clicquot champagne bar and light hor d’ oeuvres.dry-society-2 Whether you’re headed to a special event, a night on the town or simply need a pick-me-up, Dry Society has you covered.  Located adjacent to The Domain, Dry Society offers a variety of beautiful styles that suit every taste.  The stylists at North Austin’s premier blow dry bar focus on one thing and doing it well:  no cuts, no color, just couture style and beautiful blowouts that last and last.  dry-society-3Dry Society is open seven days a week, Monday-Wednesday 9am to 6pm, Thursday-Saturday 9am to 7pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm, or by appointment. For more information, please call Dry Society Styling Lounge at 512-906-0759.

Life[style]: Oct. ’16 — This Halloween, Trick the Kids with Treats that are Healthy

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It’s that time of year again…stores are pushing bags upon bags of that infamous Halloween candy. Sure, they’re festive & wrapped in devilishly attractive orange & black packaging, but don’t be tricked into buying extra treats filled with shocking amounts of sugar and a ton of chemical ingredients you can’t even pronounce. With Oct. 31st a mere two weeks away, I shudder to think about the mountain of artificially colored & sweetened candy that will be at our family’s fingertips. So, I figure it’s no better time than the present to showcase some new healthy snack options to hit the market — call it a little pre-Halloween damage control. Best of all:  everything here is kid-friendly and portable for life on-the-go! Stock up on these healthy offerings to provide a quick hunger-curbing option to reach for over all that leftover Halloween candy:

Thrive by GoMacro:  GoMacro is a family-owned vegan company that was started by a mother-daughter team on their organic farm in Southwest Wisconsin. While you may be familiar with their original MacroBars, they have launched a delicious new line of plant-based bars called Thrive.go-macroThrive are made up of a superfood ancient grain blend, are all less than 200 calories and provide plant-based protein, essential fatty acids, and prebiotic fiber to fuel your body and mind. Like all GoMacro products, Thrive are USDA-Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher, Gluten-Free certified, 100% Vegan, and soy-free. Thrive is currently available to purchase online and will become available at Whole Foods Market locations this month.  *Special discount for Blog Joie de Vivre readers:  Use code Thrive30 for 30% off of your purchase for Thrive at GoMacro’s online store.

HOPE Foods hummus:  Whatever your tastebuds are craving, HOPE has tons of mouthwatering flavors to give you total satisfaction. Featuring unique flavors such as Spicy Avocado, Chocolate, Thai Coconut Curry and more, this label has pioneered adventurous flavors in the hummus category.
hope-hummusA healthy alternative to other fattening dips on the market, HOPE makes a terrific snack for the whole family. Eat it with pita chips, vegetables or try one of their mouth-watering recipes — from mashed potatoes to jalapeño cilantro cornbread, the possibilities are endless! Organic, dairy-free, and vegan-approved, this creamy hummus dip uses a state of the art High Pressure Processing (HPP) technique. Instead of using heat pasteurization which can fill hummus with tons of unwanted preservatives, they ensure the best quality hummus by using cold-pressure technology. You can find HOPE hummus at natural grocers like Whole Foods Market & Sprouts, as well as many conventional retailers like Safeway & Price Chopper.

Crispy Fruit:  Have you tried a bag of these freeze-dried fruit snacks from Crispy Green? There’s just one nutritious ingredient in every bag:  fruit. That’s right, 100% pure fruit, nothing else. Their freeze-drying process produces delicate slices that snack like a chip, but contain the perfect balance of flavor & nutrients provided by mother nature – making it both delicious AND healthy.
crispy-greenLightweight and long-lasting (no refrigeration necessary), the all-natural, Non-GMO Project-verified snack is ideal for Halloween, but also perfect for school lunches and extracurricular activities for kids (and parents) constantly on the go. There are NO skeletons in the closet here – Crispy Fruit has no cholesterol or fat, no added sugar, is free of additives and preservatives, is nut-free, Kosher certified and has a long shelf life. Crispy Fruit is available online and in retailers such as The Fresh Market, Harris Teeter, ShopRite, Safeway and selected Whole Foods Markets.

Mom-to-mom life hacks from designer Rebecca Minkoff

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Earlier this Fall, I received an invitation to interview Rebecca Minkoff before her meet & greet event at Neiman Marcus – Austin.  Rebecca Minkoff is an industry leader in accessible luxury handbags, accessories, footwear and apparel.  Her playful and subtly edgy designs can be spotted around the world on young women and celebrities alike.

Guests enjoyed light bites, cocktails, and hip beats while shopping a well-curated selection of Minkoff’s Fall ’16 line across all categories.  The space was full of booties with embroidery and clutches with colorful tassels!  A local artist was on-hand customizing pieces with monogramming, plus the designer herself signed purses for fans.  At first I was a little embarrassed to bring in my ancient canvas & leather tote, but turns out  Minkoff loved seeing this little blast from the past (it’s like 9 years old & bears her old logo)…and she even snapped a pic of it to share with her team!rm-bag-pic

Meeting her up close & personal was such a fun opportunity!  She is everything you’d imagine an international fashion designer to be:  tall, slender, styled all fashion-forward, but totally funny & charming, too.  She runs a legit major fashion line with her brother and seemingly rocks her role of wife & mom, too.  Of course, I couldn’t help but ask her about being a mom:rm-interview-pic-2

–What’s one thing every mom should have in her M.A.B.? (the ‘Morning After Bag’ that propelled her brand into the limelight)

RM:  A paci and silver gel.

–Silver gel?  Never heard of it!  Is that like colloidal silver?

RM:  Yes, it’s like this (gestures to a bottle of Purell on our table) but it’s natural.  It’s great for kids because they’re always touching everything.  You can put it on their fingers and just under the nose.

{Awesome tip for keeping the little ones healthy, right?  Apparently it has powerful antimicrobial properties.  Check out some brands & types of silver gel here on Amazon.}

–So I read somewhere that asking a woman “How to you balance it all?” is the new “What are you wearing?”  …I still think it’s a very relevant question for moms, so I’ll go ahead and ask it anyway.

RM:  It’s relevant because we’re all hoping someone has the answer, hoping someone’s got it all figured out.

–That’s comforting to hear that maybe even someone a successful as you is still perhaps feeling the same way as the rest of us!  You totally seem to have it all together, though.  What’s a mom-to-mom life hack you can share?

RM:  Hmm, that’s a hard one!  I try to do a very conscious job of not fitting kids into a mold.  I let them be free as kids, rather than this force of boxing them in.  I try & stay calm…just be a sea of calm, because they feed off how you react.  Comfort is greater than sympathy.

ATX Mamas: find us Saturday night at Hush Hush Music Bash!

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Austin-area kids are invited to rock their hearts out at The Domain’s the third annual Hush Hush Music Bash, a free music festival for kids on Saturday, October 8, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Baby Alexandra & I went last year and had an absolute blast!  Such cool family event and a nice ACL-alternative.hush-hush-music-bash-2

KB Whirly will kick off the bash at 3 p.m.  Known for his earthy, folksy, bluesy and always upbeat music, KB incorporates storytelling, improvisational song writing and interactive music making in his one-man band.  Next, The Que Pastas will hit the stage at 4 p.m.  This local kindie (kid+indie=kindie) band’s uplifting, highly interactive and ridiculously funny performance is sure to thrill the kids.  At 5 p.m., Sonia De Los Santos’ musical stories will inspire messages of joyful community music making and cultural bridge building. Performing songs about history, art and culture, El Tule Band will perform at 6 p.m., finishing off a night that will have kids begging for more. hush-hush-music-bash-3

In addition to getting down and funky at the main concert, kids will enjoy hands-on activities, giveaways and more, all on the lawn outside iPic Theaters.

For more info, check out the Facebook event page.  See y’all there, Mamas!