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Family Travel Packing List

On an earlier post, I mentioned I had a packing list I used when we went home for the weekend.  This vacation packing list works for everything from family vacations to quick weekend trips.  When the kids were much smaller, we had gone home for the weekend and I forgot numerous things on this particular trip!  Even my father-in-law said, “Geez, Kelly you never forget things!”

This list was developed to help me stop forgetting diapers and wipes when the kids were little, all the way to more recently forgetting toothbrushes, socks and pajamas.  I have tweaked it along the way adding items as needed.  Many of you have sent me messages asking for a copy of my checklist, so here it is!  Use it in good health!

I didn’t want to forget anything, so there are some seasonal items listed.  Tweak it for your family as you see fit.  If you so care to, let us know what your can’t live without items are.  Hope this helps you stay organized while traveling on vacation or just a quick weekend trip.

Video: How to plant Morning Glories in a hanging basket on a deck

This is my first video.


May is National Pilates Month

May is National Pilates Month

Strengthen your core and increase flexibility with Pilates

May is National Pilates Month. I began practicing Pilates nine years ago after a friend recommended it to me. I was trying to tone up and had been exercising regularly, but I was still flabby – especially in my abdominal region. I started doing Pilates and I was hooked! These exercises energized me and made me stronger and leaner. Even my stubborn stomach started to get toned!

This said, I admit I have fallen away from both my Pilates and yoga practices, which prior to this, I had always enjoyed and practiced regularly. So what better time to start up my practice again, or try something new, right? Beginning this National Pilates Month of May, I find myself excited to pull out my mat and tackle the One Hundred and the Teaser, yet again!

If you’ve been looking for something new to add to your exercise regimen or have just been curious about Pilates, now is a great time to try this gentle, yet extremely effective series of exercises named after its creator Joseph Pilates (pi-lah-teez.) There is a fun, informative video on YouTube that gives the roots and history of Pilates. Check it out… History of Pilates on YouTube

So..Are you curious? Intrigued? I thought you would be! Some of the key features and advantages of Pilates are that it is whole-body focussed fitness, improving posture and body awareness thru regular practice. It strengthens the core and increases flexibility, both in your body and in your practice. Because you can perform these exercises with a simple mat or on apparatus, you can customize your practice to fit your needs and fitness level.

If you plan on trying Pilates, I recommend doing your homework first. The Pilates Body by Brooke Siler gives extremely detailed directions on the proper form and method of Pilates. I highly recommended this easy-to-follow, quick read to prevent injury and to learn the best form for your practice, which is of vital importance. I appreciate the explanations and theories of each exercise, which I still find myself referring back to even after years of practice.

Once you’ve read the book, I suggest you check out some DVDs. I love Gaiam’s Ana Caban for her direction, pace and alignment in her DVDs. She is down to earth and not in your face like some fitness instructors. That’s a definite plus in my book! She also gives you instruction based on your individualized fitness level. I recommend starting with her Pilates Beginning Mat Workout. Once that is mastered, challenge yourself to her Pilates Intermediate Mat Workout. I have LOTS of Pilates and yoga DVDs and equipment, most of which came from Gaiam. They offer a huge variety of DVDs, naturalistic products and workout gear. I recommend exploring their site if you want a new workout challenge or maybe you just need a yoga mat. This is a trusted affiliate  and I receive a small percentage of the sale. The link below gives you free shipping if you order from them.
Save $20 Off Any Purchase of $100 Or More & $50 Off Any Purchase of $200 Or More Now At Gaiam.com + GET FREE SHIPPING! Use Code: AFMAYSAVINGS At Checkout! Click Here!

In summary, Pilates gives you an effective, quick workout that will leave you energized, stronger and leaner in only 30 minutes. With my lack of spare time, this short time commitment appeals to me. I have personally seen results from these workouts. If you do these workouts regularly, you’ll see and feel the results also.

I am not a doctor by any means, so make up your own mind and give it a try. Any thoughts? Were you intrigued enough to try Pilates for yourself? Happy May and Zen on, Peeps!

 

 

 

How I Made My Own All Natural Deodorant…and You Can Too!

With all of my research into natural alternatives, I have really had my eyes opened to all of the chemicals that are added to items that are not necessary, resulting in allergens or worst! Did you know that some common ingredients in skin care have been linked as carcinogens? The more I research, the more I am motivated to find and make my own solutions.

My lastest success story began as a rash that would not go away on both of my armpits. I have used the same brand of deodorant for years and it worked well enough. It wasn’t perfect, but I had the most success with it, so I stuck with it. I also reapplied numerous times throughout the day to feel protected. I noticed a small rash on both armpits that did not go away and started to research deodorants.

I created a deodorant for me and my husband. We have both been using this for over a month now and my husband actually likes it! That is a big deal because he isn’t one to hold back opinions or suggestions. My son, who is a lot like his dad, also likes this deodorant! He even came in and handed me his old tube and asked when I was going to make him his own. What an endorsement! As for me, I LOVE THIS STUFF! I hope that wasn’t too loud, but seriously, this is the best deodorant I have ever used!


I only apply it in the morning. I have not had to reapply numerous times throughout the day. I have checked myself and have never needed to reapply! My rash is also gone! This is simple to make, smells wonderful and does what it’s supposed to. That’s a winner in my book.

One note…this is a deodorant, not an antiperspirant. Our bodies are designed to sweat. Keeping them from doing so is not the best move. You can research this for yourself, but as a woman that shaves and then applies deodorant to that area, it seems that you are just opening the door to clogged pores, ducts, allergic reactions or worst.

There are various essential oils you can use, that not only add a wonderful scent, but also give it anti-bacterial properties. Odor is caused by bacteria. Here are some suggestions: Lavender, patchouli, peppermint, clove, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, cinnamon, sweet orange, just to name a few. The key here is to buy high quality, all-natural essential oils. I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs as they grow only organic, pure essential oils resulting in the best end product. I have included a link after the ingredient list below. I used lavendar and tea tree essential oils in our deodorants – more lavender in mine with a little tea tree oil, and vice versa for my husband’s.

I just reused our old deodorant tubes after thoroughly scrubbing them out, putting them in the dishwasher and letting them dry. You can also purchase tubes for deodorant here. If you don’t mind applying a pea-sized amount to your underarms with your fingers,  you could store your deodorant in a glass jar with a lid.

Are you ready to get started? Here is the ingredient list:

Make your own Deodorant from all natural ingredients!

Make your own Deodorant from all natural ingredients!

Baking soda – 1/4 Cup

Arrow Root Powder – 1/4 Cup

Coconut Oil – 2 Tablespoons

Vitamin E Oil – A couple drops

Essential oil(s) of your choosing – 20 drops total or a combination thereof
(I recommend certified organic essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs. Their quality is superb, and yes, the below link is an affiliate link.)

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

The Dry Ingredients for making your own deodorant.

The Dry Ingredients for making your own deodorant.

Making-your-own-deodorant

First add your baking soda and arrow root powder. Next,add the Vit E oil and essential oils to the dry ingredients. Now you will add the coconut oil. When you first scoop out the coconut oil, it will be a solid at room temperature. The best way to get coconut oil to melt is over a hot water bath. I put water in a pan, heated it and placed the bowl over the top. Coconut oil has a very low melting temp, so it quickly liquifies, as you can see here.

DIY Deodorant Making Directions

DIY Deodorant Making Directions

These measurements are all a starting point. I added more powder and baking soda as my original mixture was much too soft. You want your finished product to be about the consistency of playdough. The next time I make up a batch, I am going to add a bit more Baking soda and arrow root powder as mine did get a bit soft when it reached about 80 degrees last week. I simply popped it in the refrigerator and it hardened right up. I know I wouldn’t want to do this during the winter!

Finished-product-Deodorant-

Once you’ve filled the containers, place them in the fridge to solidify. I left mine in over night, but they should be fine within a couple of hours. When you are first going to use them, you may need to run some hot water over the outside and lightly bang it on the sides so you are able to twist it up. After that, you are good to go.

I still had the little cap so I pushed it on top to make it look official.

I still had the little cap so I pushed it on top to make it look official.

One more note, I do not store mine in the bathroom. As I mentioned, coconut oil has a very low melting temperature and a hot, steamy room is not conducive to this deodorant. I simply place mine in the linen closet.

Please let me know what you think and thanks for reading this! Zen on, baby!

One mom’s funny rant on sleep advice | MomsCharlotte.com

One mom’s funny rant on sleep advice. What was the best/worst advice you ever received on getting your baby to sleep?

One mom’s funny rant on sleep advice
Advice on babies comes in every form for new moms – from well-meaning family members to friends and websites, and everywhere in between. But somehow we’re lead to think that books written by experts have the answers to all our questions. North Carolina mom of 5-month old twins, Ava Neyer, gives those experts a piece of her mind in her hilarious rant on the conflicting advice new moms are bombarded with. See the post she sent to a friend here and get ready to laugh as only an equally confused mom can!
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views. Read more

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Cooking as a child led to Mexican restaurant

Do you get your kids involved in the kitchen? Share = yes; comment = no
Check out this inspiring story: Cooking as a child led to Mexican restaurant

Guanajuato is open for lunch and dinner, and has a full bar with more than 30 wines and several different margaritas. | Jackie Pilossoph~for Sun-Times Media
GLENCOE – Growing up in Mexico, Margarita Challenger said food was a big part of her family’s life.
Together with her mom and her aunt, Challenger would prepare meals for hours, and said cooking was “a family thing to do.”
“We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together,” said Challenger. “And when we’d be eating lunch, my mom would be thinking about what we were having for dinner.”
It’s a background that led Challenger to culinary school, jobs at famous Chicago restaurants, and to becoming the owner/executive chef of two Glencoe restaurants, Everest Burger, and Guanajuato.
Challenger, who came to the U.S. 24 years ago, and who lives in Long Grove with her husband, Mark and four children opened Guanajuato (pronounced juan-a-wotto) in 2008. A year later, she moved it a few blocks away to its current location, where it has been ever since.
Challenger said she chose Glencoe as the locations for her restaurants because her husband grew up in the area, and she loves the community.
Guanajuato, which is the name of a state in central Mexico, the capital, and the place where Challenger grew up serves authentic, contemporary Mexican food with a full menu of appetizers, salads, seafood, chicken, beef, and vegetarian dishes, traditional items, and several enchilada dishes. One of Challenger’s favorites is Enchiladas Poblanas, which is cheese, chicken or steak enchiladas made with mole pablano sauce.
“The mole is made from scratch,” said Challenger, whose head chef, Jovanny Diaz has worked in restaurants like Rosebud and Franchesca’s. “It’s a complex, rich, traditional Mexican sauce that has 65 ingredients in it.”
Other house specialties include grilled avocado stuffed with shrimp and served on a bed of spinach, chipotle shrimp with a cream sauce served with arugula, and mahi mahi tacos.
“I want to serve people what I would eat, and what I would serve my family,” said Challenger. “There are no cans in this restaurant. Everything is fresh.”
Clarice Smithson of Chicago and Lisa Pollans of Glencoe are close friends who eat at Guanajuato often.
“Today is my birthday and I wanted to come here,” said Smithson, who ordered the Enchiladas Poblanas. “The food is always so fresh and delicious.”
“We both went to school in Arizona so we are very big Mexican food lovers, and this is very authentic Mexican,” said Pollans.
Guanajuato is open for lunch and dinner, and has a full bar with more than 30 wines and several different margaritas.
“The food is great here, and it’s kid friendly,” said Jessica Dietrich of Winnetka. “I always get the tortilla soup, and I get it to go a lot.”
Dietrich said she also comes to the restaurant once a month with a group of neighborhood moms for margaritas and dinner.
“I love the spiciness and the complexity of the flavors,” said Challenger, “People think of Mexican food as just tacos, but it’s so much more than that. It’s so much more complex.”

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