Life[style]: Feb. ’16 — Surviving the Season of Cedar Fever

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2017 is predicted to be one of the worst years ever for cedar. Only a week into the season, cedar pollen counts reached the second highest level in record history:  21,952 grains/cubic meter. Since then, cedar counts have been medium-to-high almost daily, leaving thousands of Austinites living in state of constant misery.

Thing is, we haven’t seen the worst of it yet:  I recently heard mid-February referred to as the Cedar-pocalypse. This is when cedar pollen –an aggressive allergen that many of us have been battling since December– will hit their absolute highest counts. When the male Mountain Cedar trees (technically Ashe Junipers) look like they’re on fire from the ‘smoky’ clouds of pollen billowing from their branches.

This is one of the prices we pay to live in wonderful Austin, Texas, right? I consulted local acupuncturist David Jones, for some easy things we can do right now to provide some relief. January through March in Austin has some of the best weather in the country. Try these three tactics so you can get out there and enjoy it. 

Experiment with Natural Remedies:  If you’ve had enough of the allergy shots & pills, this herbal product is one solution to try in battling cedar season. Fight the effects of cedar fever (sneezing, swollen sinuses, watery eyes) naturally by starting to use Herbalogic’s Easy Breather every day. Take one to two 500 mg capsules of Easy Breather a couple of times a day and supplement with herb drops as needed. You should feel instant relief. It combines ingredients long used in Chinese herbal traditions to promote clear sinuses and soothe occasional upper respiratory and eye irritation. Unlike formulas that cause nasal dryness or thirst, Easy Breather includes herbs to moisturize sinus passages and upper respiratory membranes.easy-breatherThe company is based in Austin and has grown 40% year-over-year. Their products are sold online and can be found in more than 500 retail outlets, including Wheatsville Co-op, People’s Pharmacy, Whole Foods Market and HEB. 

Focus on Your Feet:  We LOVE hiking Austin’s miles of greenbelt trails this time of year, and we refuse to let pesky cedar pollen stop us! Before you walk back into your home, be sure to wipe down shoes, jackets and even your hair – just because you can’t see the pollen doesn’t mean it’s not there. Upon entering, leave the shoes outside if you can and switch into fresh socks. Gold Toe socks are the perfect accessory to any adventure — big or small. “PowerSox“is Gold Toe’s new athletic line and the socks are perfect for all our outdoor fitness activities! powersoxThe boot socks, woven with merino wool & contour cushioning, are essential for anyone that loves a good hike as much as we do. For that trail run, bike ride, or rock climbing session, the no-show athletic socks have mesh panels to ensure breathability, while “AquaFX technology” works to keep feet dry.

Become a Clean Freak: Take extra showers and make it a habit to wash-up immediately after spending time outdoors. A hot shower can provide some sinus relief while getting rid of pollen on your body or hair. Clean your house (or have it professionally cleaned) at least once a week. Helpful tip: if you’ve been hit with cedar fever, get someone else to do the vacuuming. The dust-up can irritate your nose, which can be a nightmare if you’re already suffering. Most importantly:  WASH YOUR PILLOWCASES! If you normally wash sheets once a week, up it to 2 or 3 times a week, even if it’s just the pillowcases. You hair is like a magnet for cedar pollen and once your head hits the pillow each night, our poor noses are left to roll around in allergens all night. mollys-sudsY’all know I’m always looking out for a natural alternative if I’m using a product that often…Molly’s Suds is a great option to try over conventional laundry detergent. It’s perfect for those with allergies and sensitive skin. You can count the number of ingredients on both hands; it does not contain the long list of harsh chemicals found in conventional brands. Molly’s Suds can be found at retailers like Amazon, Target, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Products to Kick-Start your New Year’s Resolution

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Happy New Year!  How’s everyone doing with their New Year’s resolutions?  I’m committed to feeling fit, healthy & energized this year and wanted to share a few products that are helping me along the way:

  • Breakfast with Back to the Roots cereals:  It’s a new year, start it clean. For this Cali-based organic food start-up, there is nothing more personal or important than what we eat and put in our bodies 3x a day. They’re’re passionate about “Undoing Food” and creating sustainable, delicious products to help kids and families reconnect with their food and how it’s grown. These organic cereals are found online or at Whole Foods and boast just 3-4 ingredients each…simple, natural & healthy way to start my day!cereal
  • Coffee with NextSugar:  There’s a new sugar alternative on the market that is finally delivering the solution that so many people (including health researchers & medical professionals) have been waiting for: NextSugar. NextSugar is the world’s first low glycemic, non-GMO and Kosher natural cane sugar that has a sweetness intensity and profile of conventional sugar, but with a groundbreaking advantage: its unique composition naturally and safely blocks up to 50% of the sugar from being absorbed by the body. AND it’s suitable for any traditional use of sugar, such as baking, cooking and sweetening.

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  • Organic deodorant & lip balm from Green Goo:  This new year, start fresh by making a few healthy swaps with your daily body care products! This organic skincare line provides pure, natural and healing ingredients to nourish skin. Green Goo believes in using only the highest-quality, natural, beneficial ingredients the earth has to offer… food for your skin!

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  • New black jeans from SlimSation:  Never underestimate the power of great fitting, ankle-cut black pants. The goal isn’t only to look on-trend, but to look fit at the same time. SlimSation is a women’s clothing brand offering the highest form of comfort. Their ankle pants, skirts, and jeans are all made with a flexible tummy control panel. These panels work to contour your waist, slim your tummy, and shape your hips, all while keeping you comfy. They move with you, keeping your figure looking great throughout the day, whether you’re working, playing, or running errands. Plus, the secret slimming panel can’t be seen, but the effects of it are unmissable. pants

Making Winter Birthdays Special for Kids

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frist-bday-cakeThey’ve just opened a plethora of presents under the tree and were drug to more holiday events than they can count.  As much as we try to make them feel special and not forgotten after the Christmas chaos, winter birthdays aren’t the best. Everyone’s coming down from that yule-tide high and ready to just #NetflixandChill. After those packed schedules that come with the holiday season, people are beginning to settle back into their regular routine and at this point, are frankly partied-out.

Personally, my summer birthday was awesome: close enough to the end of the school year to keep in touch with friends on event details, yet everyone was already bored & eager to gather for something fun, and there were boundless ideas for celebrating in the summer sun…I vividly remember amazing birthdays spent at the wave pool, the water park, and more.little-land-pic-1But what to do when the dreary days of January & February have most of us ready to hit the fast forward button to Easter? My little one has an early January birthday and last year I kept it low-key for her first birthday celebration. Admittedly, that approach was due to me feeling like I was still getting my shit together has a new mom and couldn’t fathom adding party planning into the mix. So we went for something small and intimate, no guest list to manage, no decorations to fuss over. I have a little twinge of mom-guilt over it, but we ended up skipping the traditional 1st bday party in lieu of a morning of simply doing an activity she loved. We chose to spend a couple hours at Little Land Play Gym before a Tex-Mex lunch with my parents joining us. A true Texas babe, her first birthday dessert was an avocado tres leches cake from Dos Chivos.little-land-pic-2This year, I am kinda taking the opposite approach…  Thankfully it is now in my capacity to take it up a few notches for her second birthday. We’re throwing our little one a Texas “2”-Step themed party. To kick things off, we are hosting local children’s music artist “Mr. Will” Dupuy for a live performance at our home. Y’all, he’s soooooo good: his kids songs sung with a Texas-country twang, laid back cowboy style, and jokes for the parents that go over the little one’s heads make for a kids concert that all attendees will enjoy. My daughter Alexandra has one of his branded t-shirts and whenever she sees it, she starts singing Wheels on the Bus…it’s super cute BUT…imagine how she’s going to flip her lid when she sees him live and in concert right from her living room!mr-will-picLunch will be catered by Austin’s famous Franklin Barbecue. –Have y’all tried their brisket? Some swear it’s the absolute best in Texas. This Eastside joint is a favorite of President Obama, celebrities, and famous chefs. However, due to their 2-hour wait (like at least 2 hours standing outside in line, with no guarantee that there will be any left for you when it’s your turn to order), we’ve never tasted its deliciousness in the 5 years we’ve lived here. There is a workaround, though: Pre-Orders. Place your large catering order online in advance and walk right up to pick it up at the designated time your choose. –Score!

Now, I know random things like Cedar Fever, toddler tantrums (these have officially started for us!), and last-minute guest cancellations can possibly put a damper on the day, but I’m hoping we fondly remember her epic second birthday party. I’m unabashedly looking forward to a pretty fantastic morning of music and BBQ. However we choose to celebrate birthdays, wether it be small & intimate or over-the-top, I hope my little one grows up knowing how valued she is each and every day of the year.

 

How to Choose Toys Toddlers Won’t Get Tired of: Tips from a Toy-Buying Expert

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Any other new moms suddenly have toys on the brain?  Interacting with toys is now a daily part of our lives and it’s my mission to figure out some best-buys in the playfulness department.  So, I consulted Toybrary Austin owner (and thus, toy connoisseur) Liza Wilson to get her feedback on which toys are top-notch.  –We’re talking best types of toys and the best brands to buy!  Before she opened Austin’s local toy-lending library, she was a teacher, working with ages 2 through high school.  Although preschool is her happy place, she’s experienced in public, private, and Montessori schools and believes play and learning go hand-in-hand.

Why does my daughter seem to go weeks, even months, only playing with a handful of her toys while the rest sit ignored?  “Children’s brains are evolving very rapidly between the ages of 0-3. It’s their full time job to learn! They need lots of new stimulation on an ongoing basis. Once a child has ‘conquered’ a toy, it’s time to expose them to something new. If they are not playing with a toy, it’s likely because it has become boring to them and they no longer need to explore whatever the concept is. The toys that she plays with are the ones that are helping her learn.”toybrary-1

What are some quick tips & tricks moms can do to boost engagement, imagination, and self-guidance in the playroom?  “One of the most effective practices is to rotate toys. Put the majority of your child’s toys in the garage or another unused space, and just pull out a few at a time for your kids to play with. This keeps a cycle of seemingly new items available to them. Research shows that kids cannot focus on more than 7 toys at one time. If there are more than 7 available, the rest will get ignored (causing piles of clutter). Even with only 7, these eventually become commonplace and it’s time for kids to move on to a new stimulus. That’s definitely the right time to pull out new toys and either get rid of the ones they are bored with, or put them away to try again later.”

What types of toys typically generate the most interest at Toybrary?  “It’s funny, there are always new and fascinating toys on the market, but the old standards remain the most popular: dinosaurs, dolls, cars & trucks, pretend kitchen items, costumes, and all animals. The slide, bikes, trikes, and push carts are also enormously popular. Toys don’t need to light up or make any noise for the kids to love them. In fact, it’s much better on everyone’s mental health if they don’t!”toybrary-3

What are the signs of a high-quality toy?
Wooden toys are almost always the highest quality toys, for several reasons:

  • They are easy on the earth. Plastic never goes away and fills our landfills.
  • Because they are wooden, they are naturally simpler. We want toys to provide a stimulus for kids to be creative, not passive. Eliminating the lights and noise causes kids to be much more interactive with toys, which means their brains are working a lot harder. In other words, instead of the plastic cow “mooing” at the kiddo, he/she should be working on learning to make all kinds of animal sounds on his/her own. This is learning.

Another sign of a high quality toy is that it has multiple uses/teaches multiple lessons. In other words, it promotes “open-ended” play. Blocks are a great example. Many toys focus on just one skill, like pushing a button. With open-ended toys, there is no limit to how many different ways they can be used. Kids can build a tower, a castle, a farm, a house, etc. with blocks. Because of this, blocks are interesting and stimulating for years!”toybrary-2

What are some of your favorite toy brands?  “I love the European toys the most (especially Haba & Janod). –This is not to be snobby! It’s because they are generally truly more child friendly. The colors aren’t just yellow, red, and blue like they are often are in the U.S. They use beautiful oranges and purples as well. The toys are sturdy, well made, long-lasting, beautiful, and classic. You don’t find sexy or violent toys coming from Germany or France. That being said, Plan Toys, KidKraft, EverEarth, and Manhattan Toy are great American companies, and I love Green Toys as well. Their toys are simple, durable, attractive, and long lasting!”

ATX Moms:  Try before you buy!  Check out these brands and more at Liza’s toy wonderland, Toybrary.  Plus, there are options to stay and play, drop-in childcare, and educational activities like excellent classes for kids and useful parent workshops.  There’s always a new carefully selected speaker or special event going on there to add to your calendar!

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