Monday, September 29, 2014

Motivational Monday: Special Edition

Welcome to a special edition Motivational Monday post by the one and only JR.  I would like to talk about what motivates me and drives me.  It's simple - my family.  Starting off with the three crazy kids... They might fight, scream, play, laugh or just cry, but I wouldn't want it any other way. The joy they bring to me I could never repay. I know I always have to keep my head up, work and grind for them so they can reach for the stars.  Nicole is a big part of my motivation. Seeing her come home from an 8 to 9 hour day of work and cook, clean, blog, sing, play with the kids is a true motivation I need. Yes, I come home tired and low on energy and I know she does as well, but the way she pushes through it always surprises me.  If she could do all this, I can get off the couch too.  Well, I hope you liked my first and maybe only post. Night night people.

And now a word from N...

A big thanks to J for commandeering my blog tonight!  I am exhausted and the thought of writing is, well, let's just say I'm having trouble stringing any thoughts together right now.  The babies were in full tantrum mode and Ella had more homework than my brain could handle, but somehow we made it through.  J and our children are truly a motivation even during the sleepiest, craziest and most unbearable days.  I love them all.  I hope everyone had a great Monday!

<3 n

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Very Thankful Thursday: Fall and Football

As I stated in my last post, I’m really excited for fall.  Aside from the much-need weather change, I’m looking forward to the holidays, the decorating and especially the return of football.  Did I mention this is my second season of fantasy football?  Last year I came in second.  As of right now, I am in 6th place out of 14 of us (13 guys plus me) with two wins and one loss (a loss by 0.30 points - not cool!).  J is in 7th place.  Just thought I’d throw that in there.  I’m not bragging though because that would invoke karma and I’d probably lose every game from here on out.  Anyway, back to being thankful…

Fall is the kickoff to the holiday season with Halloween and Thanksgiving leading the way to Christmas and New Years.  Fall is an excuse to get cozy and a reason to cuddle.  It seems to slow everything down, quieting the hustle and bustle and making the world a more pensive place. Fall balances out the crazy, spontaneity of summer.  The return to school means a return to routines, bedtimes and schedules.  Also, during the summer, we spent more time hiding indoors with the AC blasting watching TV than enjoying the sun outside.  Since autumn makes the outdoor air a little more bearable, we'll be able to get out and get active.  Evening walks, weekend bike rides and early morning hikes are just a few of the activities I'm looking forward to doing with our family.

So thank you, fall!  You are back and I'm so glad you're here.

<3 n

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Outfits Inspired by Our Little Ones

It is FINALLY fall and I don't know about you, but I couldn't be more ready to ditch the heat, throw on a sweater and enjoy a warm drink while watching the summer fade into a memory.  Below are three cozy autumn outfits inspired by our little ones.  Enjoy and don't forget to click the numbered links to shop each look!

This outfit is a combination of the rustic (denim and boots) and the feminine (florals and bows).  Those attributes along with the lovely little sweater really make me think of Ella.  Also, since the sweater's fresh minty green isn't a traditional fall color, it really adds a pop of fun to this look.
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Ok, ok - so this one is pretty much a super autumn explosion, but I love it.  This outfit is as classic as it can be with red plaid, jeans and boots.  It's perfect for Hendrix as he is our manly little man.  I can definitely picture him all cozied up in this.
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Despite the fact that she won't be attending school for sometime, the sophisticated, academic feel of this outfit is very Sadie.  The chunky sweater dress and tights combo really reads fall to me and the head wrap headband is just too cute.
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I hope you have a happy fall!  In case you missed our Little Ones' Wednesday summer outfit post, feel free to check it out here.

<3 n

Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Motivational Monday


Being my own motivation hasn’t served me very well in the past.  I have a secret Pinterest board labeled “Body Inspiration” that houses photos of female celebrities’ bodies.  It was meant to inspire me to become a fitter me, but I haven’t looked at it since I created it.  I try to wake up earlier to get a head start on all the day’s to-dos, but the thought of sleeping one more hour or even five more minutes is far too appealing and I end up hitting the snooze button every morning.  I push myself to read more often so as to become a more well-rounded individual, but I find myself engaging in simple, mindless activities instead.  Yes, at times it is difficult if not impossible to motivate ourselves.

Recently, I’ve had this nagging thought that tells me I must be the motivation.  If I want my family to maintain a tidy home, I need to implement and adhere to a strict cleaning schedule.  If I want Ella to be more active, I need to plan more activities.  If I want J to put down his phone and pick up a book, I need to do it first.  During this thought process, I stumbled upon the idea that maybe it would be easier for me to get and stay motivated if I were doing so for the people around me instead of for myself.

The concept is simple yet effective.  Lead by example and in becoming an example of a great person, you in turn become a great person.  Adopt a healthy diet so that your children develop a healthy diet.  Maintain a good exercise regimen to inspire your spouse to do the same.  Be courteous to spark a courteous nature in others.  Be someone’s “I wish I were more like him” or even their “if she can do it, I can too”.  In whatever capacity, work to motivate someone else and you may just find yourself a fully motivated person.

And so ends another Motivational Monday post.  If you have any words of wisdom, I’d love it if you’d drop them in the comment field below.  Happy Monday!

<3 n

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Juicing 101







Determined to get healthy and fit (for real this time!), J and I recently purchased our first juicer.  Although we haven’t been juicing long, I thought I’d share a few things about our experience thus far.

Our juicer is the Bella High Power Juice Extractor.  Since we’ve only used it a short time, I'll hold off on an official review but I can report that it's worked well for us so far.  It is a 1000 watt juicer so it’s pretty darn powerful.  And speaking of power, this particular juicer is a centrifugal juicer which means it uses centrifugal force (and some scary blades) to separate the flesh of whatever you’re juicing from the juice you want to enjoy.

I’ll also spare you a step-by-step tutorial on how to juice.  In short, you stick the fruits and veggies in the top and delicious, healthy juice shoots out the feed tube and into the container of your choice and ultimately makes its way to your tummy and your body gets happy.  J calls the juicer “our healthy machine”.  At first, I was a little frightened of the noises it emits as it violently splits open kale stems, chews up beet roots and throws lemon seeds into the trash bin, but I got used to all that fairly quickly.  The best part of using a juicer is the amazing aroma in your kitchen during the process.  The smell of ginger is by far my favorite, but every ingredient boasts its own unique and yummy scent.

Juicing is a bit on the messy side, but cleanup isn't too taxing.  Using a plastic bag (vegetable bags from the grocery store work perfectly) to line the pulp bin makes disposing of fruit and veggie remnants pretty easy.  A quick wash in warm water and dish soap or a run through the dishwasher gets the parts clean.  After that, all that’s needed is a little light wiping of the kitchen counters to eliminate any remaining debris.

As I am often guilty of Googling the heck out of anything in which I take interest, I made sure to seek out some online sources for juicing info.  I started following FitLifeTV on YouTube for juicing tips and recipes.  They’re videos are extremely informative and fun.  The host Drew Canole’s energetic personality and fit physique make juicing all the more appealing.  JuiceRecipes.com is another great resource as it contains not only recipes but specific details on the benefits each ingredient provides.   The website is authored by Tracee Sloan who has been juicing her way to health for over a decade.  Did I mention she also does pinup modeling at the age of 45?  Talk about a hot mom!

So far, the juice we've made most frequently is a combination of kale, celery, cucumber, apple, carrot, lemon and ginger.  It's really refreshing and the ginger gives it a great kick.  For a kid friendly version, we use less lemon and ginger and increase the apple and carrot slightly.  Tonight, we juiced carrots, apples, spinach, collard greens and a little lemon and it was simply amazing.  This is hands down my favorite as of right now.  We made enough for J and I to have for breakfast and lunch tomorrow.   The consumption of two juices in lieu of a traditional breakfast and lunch, combined with a healthy dinner, is our goal for each day this week.

Since we are nearing the end of this post, I should probably touch on a couple of the benefits of juicing.  Drinking the juice extracted from fruits and vegetables differs from eating them because in doing so your body doesn’t have to breakdown flesh and sort out insoluble fiber as it normally would.  Of course, there are amazing benefits to eating fruits and vegetables whole, but juicing speeds up the delivery of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc to your system.  Juicing also makes consuming all those wonderful nutrients fast and easy.  I mean how often do we really eat a heaping plate of fruits and veggies all at once, not to mention multiple times per day?

If you are a juicing expert or enthusiast or even a beginner like me, feel free to comment with details on your experience, tips or anything else you’d like.  Below are a few juicing-related resources in link form.  Enjoy!

Bella High Power Juice Extractor
FitLifeTV on YouTube
JuiceRecipes.com
Green Juice Recipes
Reboot with Joe

<3 n

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ella's Braid Tutorial





As it's been so incredibly hot in Southern California the past few weeks, we've braided Ella's hair most days to help her beat the heat.  Quite a few of her friends and even some of her teachers have recently asked how her braids are constructed.  This was kind of a shock to me as I feel like the styles I've done have been pretty simplistic.  Nonetheless, I decided to do a post here on my blog featuring a quick tutorial on how I braid Ella's hair.  This particular style is super easy yet adorable.  I've named these pigtails the Triple Braid Crossover Pigtails.



To start, part the hair down the center.  Ella actually has a side part so I start the center part toward the crown of her head.  On each side, create three equal sections of hair and braid each of them.  Next, take the top braid on each side and cross it over to the other side.  Proceed to braid pigtails using the three braids as hair sections and secure with an elastic.

For a twist (no pun intended) on this look, twist the pigtails together and secure with one elastic instead of two.  Ella preferred the single twisted braid to the pigtails so we went with that style instead.




Stay tuned for another braid tutorial in the near future.  I have an idea that I’d like to post once it’s perfected.  If you’re in the mood to comment, please let me know about your favorite braided hairstyle.

P.S.  Don’t mind the sloppy parts in the photo.  It was bedtime and I was one tired mommie!  I hadn’t intended to do a tutorial, but once the idea hit me I decided to use the photos we’d already taken rather than re-braid her hair.  Also, if you’re wondering why Ella’s face is so super shiny, that would be the peel-able cucumber face mask she’s modeling.

<3 n