Friday, January 31, 2014

fun finds: top valentine's day gifts for dads

1. buoy by turnstone -- i get it. it may not seem like the likely top pick for our valentine's guide....but i'm telling you this: it's amazing. genelle and i have been testing out the buoy's in our own homes for a few weeks now and we are seriously in love. i am such a convert to this awesome chair that i have donated my previous desk chair and i am never looking back. they have a large variety of color variations to choose from so there is sure to be one to fit your valentine's style. it will be the best valentine gift he has ever received. truly. 

2. bose quiet comfort headphones -- the very best for the daddy that travels or needs to get some work done at home and might need a little help drowning out the noise from your munchkins.

3. mens leather travel case -- why should us mama's have the cute travel toiletries bag? give your love one of these beautiful, personalized, leather ones.

4. love quote -- "every story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite." add a beautiful new piece of artwork to the walls of your home or of his office. it's truly lovely. 

5. love shirt -- tell your man you love him with this fun, artsy love tee. he is bound to feel the love but not get teased by his friends.

6. jack black luxury shave set -- there is just something super sexy about a really close shave. i love the look of an old fashioned save set on the counter and who doesn't love a really, smooth face on their love sometimes?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

mmmmm: pesto chicken quinoa

a doctor recently told me i am gluten intolerant. i'm not sure what exactly that means except that i have been told to stop eating gluten. this is really, i mean really hard for me. bread and i have had a long standing love relationship. give me some bread and pasta and i could be pretty happy on a deserted island. so, now with my new news, i am learning to love new grains and foods that make me feel better. one of those great foods is quinoa. i've just started experimenting with this fun little grain. here is one of my new favorite lunchtime (or anytime) treats for myself. i cook a ton of this and then it is lunch for a couple of days. love it!

pesto chicken quinoa

3 grilled chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces (i like to grill up several chicken breasts at the beginning of the week. i use them in recipes like this one, throw them on a salad, or just eat them alone. if i have them on hand, i'm less likely to grab something unhealthy to eat. i season them with a little salt and lemon pepper.)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 red or green bell peppers, chopped

1-2 cups chopped white onions (i like onions so i used closer to 2 cups)

1 cup uncooked rainbow quinoa

1 cup water

3/4 cup chicken broth (i use the no-fat, low sodium broth)

1 cup basil pesto (for a great recipe to make your own, click here. store bought pesto works great too!)

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup mozzarella or parmesan cheese to garnish

if the chicken breasts are not already cooked, do this first and set aside. place the water and chicken broth in a pot with the quinoa to boil. once the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes. turn off heat and let sit for five minutes more. 

while quinoa is cooking, put the chopped bell peppers and onions in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until soft and the onions are semi-translucent. set aside. roast the pine nuts. you can either do this by putting them in the oven on a cookie sheet at 400 for about 6 minutes or by putting them in a skillet on high heat and letting them roast.

once everything is ready, put all the ingredients except the cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix well. if you prefer the quinoa as a side, leave the chicken breasts uncut and serve the chicken along side the quinoa. either way tastes great. garnish with some cheese. enjoy!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

fun finds: skincare must-haves

it is a new year and with that comes resolutions. both mine and genelle's birthdays are in december. i suppose, that because of that, we have always made resolutions regarding how we want to live the next year of our life due to our birthdays and not really because of new years. both of us are now, every day, inching closer and closer to being 40 in 2014. (eek). it seems like such a big number. 40 carries a lot of weight and significance for me. because of that i, for one, have a giant boat load of resolutions for this year of my life. goals to reach before i am 40. my goals include adventure and lifestyle changes, but mostly they all revolve around allowing myself to make me a priority. something i think that a lot of moms are bad at. so, this year, i resolve to make myself a priority. not at the expense of my kids, mind you, but to be a better me for myself and for them. 

one of my resolutions to make myself a better me is skincare. there is no gentle way to put it. i suck at taking care of my skin. truth. prior to my birthday, i think the only time it was washed clean of make-up was in the shower. i have good skin genes....i have been lucky....but this luck does not last forever and, from this point on, i resolve to make my skin a priority. 

i have already noticed a difference with my new skincare regimen and am still exploring and looking for new products to try that will help me age gracefully (or not at all).  here are my skincare must-haves for the month:

mama mio - eye know all-in-one eye serum
8 hours of sleep in 60 seconds. i am in love with this eye serum. it feels amazing and i can already notice a difference. genelle is hooked on it too. it's a must-have.

using this devise has truly transformed the way i wash my face. it is simple to use, is rechargeable and waterproof. i keep it in the shower and i am shocked at how much cleaner and softer my face is now that i started using this product. 

i met a woman that had the most fabulous skin, even though she was much older than i. she swore by this product and i had to try it (they carry it at costco). it is expensive, but the difference in my face and hands is noticeable. 

roc max resurfacing facial cleanser
this product, combined with the clarisonic has made a huge difference in my skin. it exfoliates gently and leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh. love.

if you know of a product that i need to try, let me know. i am looking forward to trying new things and finding out what works best for me.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

mmmmm: homemade cinnamon applesauce

my mom used to make this recipe when i was a little girl. it still brings back memories and fills me with nostalgia. it makes me think of fall and winter and is just sweet enough to be a dessert on the coldest of days. 

cinnamon applesauce

4 medium apples, cored, peeled and sliced

1 cup of water 

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

heat apples and water in a pot until water is boiling. boil down apples and water for 10 minutes until apples are tender. 

add brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. simmer on low heat for another 20 minutes until water is reduced and   mixture has thickened. serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. if you like a pureed consistency, put the finished mixture in a food processor and pulse a few beats until smooth.

Monday, January 13, 2014

san diego: disney on ice presents rockin' ever after, january 22-26

disney on ice is once again coming to san diego with their brand new production, rockin' ever after, january 22-26th at valley view casino (former sports arena). 

a cast of world-class skaters brings your favorite moments from disney•pixar’s BRAVE, Tangled, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast to life in a musical showcase that features the hottest tunes and talent from across the kingdom. 

jam to a scottish jig as a group of royal contenders from the academy award-winning disney•pixar film, BRAVE, competes to win the heart of adventurous, sharp-shooting merida, making her on-ice debut!  

experience a show-stopping performance as sebastian breaks out of his shell for one night only to make waves with ariel.  a chorus of harmless hooligans from Tangled unleashes musical mayhem when they get a visit from the sassy and spirited rapunzel and her charming ally flynn. And, get your feet moving as the beast and his castle’s enchanted entourage take center stage in a spectacular show for belle.  it will be a rockin’ remix of royalty when Disney On Ice brings this superstar line-up to san diego!

we always have fun at a disney on ice event. join us for this one!

january 22 – 26, 2014
wednesday, january 22nd         7:00 PM
thursday, january 23rd             7:00 PM
friday, january 24th                 7:00 PM
saturday, january 25th             11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
sunday, january 26th               11:00 AM, 3:00 PM* & 7:00 PM
            *spanish performance

valley view casino center
3500 sports arena blvd., san diego ca 92110

ticket price levels are $17, $25, $45 (VIP) and $65 (front row)

special opening night discount tickets available for only $10 each (not valid on VIP/Front Row seating)

all seats are reserved; tickets are available for purchase online at, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or in-person at the valley view casino center box office.
*tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

thankful jar

i have seen several ideas floating around this year. it seems the theme of thanksgiving has been permeating the thoughts and souls of many, many people. i, too, have decided to cultivate a thankful heart, both in myself and in my family. we have added our own thanksgiving jar to our family traditions we plan to keep from year to year. there are many versions of this. some people have started a thanksgiving journal. others are incorporating writing spaces in their homes where they can post their daily declarations of thankfulness. i loved this idea. as my family finds something they are thankful for, they write it on a slip of paper and put it in the jar. at the end of 2014, we'll take the papers out and look back on all the things we've been thankful for over the last year. the art of finding things to be thankful for even on the worst days is revolutionizing our minds and hearts as we approach this new year. if a jar doesn't sound appealing to you, find another way to chronicle the things you are thankful for. i guarantee, it will make your life better.

i started with an extra large bell jar. i purchased some chalk stickers and some ribbon and decorated the jar in a way that would make me happy as it stares at me for the next year (and maybe the years after as well).

i know myself (and my family members). if the task of writing becomes too difficult, the moments of thankfulness will never make it onto a piece of paper. so, i prepared a second jar. this jar is full of pre-cut papers and a couple of little sharpie markers (my personal favorite). i left the lid off of the jar for easy access. now any of my family members can find a moment of thankfulness and easily write it down to put in our jar.

what about you? do you have ways to cultivate a thankful heart in your families and in yourself? what an amazing transformation happens when we first strive, even on the toughest days, to be thankful. 

my days are numbered

our "someday..." posts have resonated with moms everywhere. you name a mom who doesn't dream of what life will be like "someday," and i can pretty much guarantee that we are not friends. parenting is hard. anyone who tells you differently is lying. it's exhausting. it is filled with moments when you want to shake your fists at someone and scream, "why?" it is the hardest thing you will ever do and there are days when i dream that i can see a light at the end of this very long parenting tunnel.

with five kids, that tunnel has gotten longer and longer. we are, however, for the first time ever, at a place where we have finally said, "we are done having kids." it was a long time coming and the truth is, i am grateful to be at a place where i can say that i am happy with five. i don't feel like something is missing. i'm content with what i have. that, too, has been a long time coming and i am thankful to finally feel that way.

now, for the first time in my life, i am on the other side of babydom. i will never again be pregnant. i won't have to go through nursing again. my body, such as it is, is officially my own again and i am relishing some of the great things that come from saying goodbye to infants and toddlers. i am nearing the end of an 11 year relationship with diaper changing. i no longer have to scrub out baby bottles. the poor, rickety crib is holding on for a couple of remaining months until we move on to the final "big-boy bed." the bib drawer will soon be a thing of the past. huge infant paraphernalia is slowly being consigned or given away. our house is turning into a big kid house. i almost don't know what to do with myself.

part of the transition is liberating. my grocery budget alone jumps with each new stage. no formula to buy? money for other things! no diapers to buy? how about a starbucks? that poopy diaper bucket just outside our garage door? that thing will soon be a thing of the past! some things are truly fantastic.

there are other moments when the loss of it all makes me feel like i cannot catch my breath. my fifth born is going through a bit of separation anxiety. lately he has cried every night when i put him to bed. with my first ones, i would have let them cry it out. with my last one, i go back in there every night and hold and rock my last baby. i am all too aware what happens next. i have seen the transition that happens when friends become cooler than parents. i have seen the look of embarrassment when i walk into my fifth grader's classroom. i have seen big hair bows give way to pony tails. i have seen tutu's and tiaras stuffed into the bottoms of drawers and thomas trains left pushed into the back of closets. i have watched as hugs and kisses have become less frequent and information about their days has to be pried from them.

don't get me wrong. i am grateful for the next stages as well. i love seeing the people my kids are becoming. i love the big belly laughs around the dinner table when we all get the same joke and can laugh in unison. i love spending bits of my day with them and seeing the world through the eyes of my growing children. still, they don't quite fit in my lap like they once did. they won't lay their heads on my shoulder and let me rock them to sleep. those days are quickly fading, even for number five. and so, my days are numbered. i once heard that with children, the days are long but the years are short. this has become painfully and wonderfully true, simultaneously. so, i'm determined to love the new stage we are entering. still, if my toddler wants to be rocked to sleep, i won't miss a night of it. when there is an expiration date, the moments and the memories become that much sweeter. i will hold onto them for as long as i can.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

fun finds: new year, better me. health and fitness must-haves.

every new year, i (along with most of the rest of the world) resolve to make myself healthier in the year to come. let's face it...the years aren't helping me in my being and looking fit process so it is up to me to get myself moving. i love finding little items to help me on my fitness path. if you are like me, anything can help. here are some of my newest fitness finds.

activity tracker:
bowflex boost
i am a bit of a fitness junkie. i don't really love to exercise, but i love the way it makes me feel and i am obsessed with all of the wonderful technology out there that helps to make it so much fun. i have tested out a lot of different activity trackers and really love the simplicity of the boost combined with awesome technology (it is surprisingly hard to find both). the boost tracks everything from steps and distance to calories and sleep. it syncs super easily with it's free app on my iphone and i am able to set my own personal goals, share with my friends via social media *and* the battery lasts up to 11 days without having to charge it---yes, please!! the simple, modern, streamlined design makes it good for both men and women and i really like how easy it is to adjust to a tiny wrist like mine (first world problems, i know). 

sports bra: 
champion marathon sports bra
let's face one wants to see the girls in all their glory bouncing around while i exercise. one. i need a bra that can hold everything in place no matter what i have going on. both of us gals have been testing out this sports bra and this one has done the job and kept "the girls" in one place. mission accomplished. on top of that, it's made with a fancy new quick-dry fabric that dries fast, is super smooth and soft (so, no chafing) and we both loved the racer back straps that were adjustable for a more custom fit. they just released this sports bra and i have a feeling it is going to be flying off the shelves.

exercise pants:
lululemon wunder under crops:
 i know that the ceo said some really, really stupid, mean things....but their pants.....the pants really, really make your booty look amazing. for that, i will do anything....including ignoring someone whom has already been fired and replaced due to their stupidity. three cheers for beautiful booties everywhere.

gym bag:
zella quilted gear duffel bag
my gym has shower facilities. yep. they are spa-like and clean and wonderful. this alone makes me want to spend the extra time after working out to shower...but, who am i kidding? the gym could be not so nice and i would still probably take advantage of the uninterrupted shower time without my kiddos. i love my kids. their commentary on my body when they pop their head in through the shower curtain? not so much. i've got my eye on this cute gym bag to bring back and forth to the gym with my loot. cute, huh?

water bottle:
lifefactory flip-top glass bottle
i love the lifefactory water bottles. i love water bottles period and own way too many of them. it's a problem. i liked the lifefactory bottles before, but now that they are available with a flip-top i just swoon. they are available in lots of colors and the perfect size for the cup holder on the treadmill or elliptical. heaven. 

pain gel:

arnicare gel

it's true, getting into shape can be a painful process. sometimes i need some instant pain relief. this gel is great to help take some of the post work- out edge off. a natural topical pain reliever, arnicare doesn't just mask pain; it works naturally with your body to relieve pain so you feel better faster. when you’re determined to see your “get fit, stay fit” new year’s resolution through, pick up a tube of this non-prescription gel at your local drugstore. 

motivational towels: 
words to sweat by- mantra towelsi don't know about you, but i sweat. there is no "glistening", no light perspiration. there is usually enough visible sweat that it looks like someone accidentally dropped their full water bottle on my head. it's a mess . for the sake of all those in my proximity, i keep an exercise towel handy. while wiping off the perspiration flood gates, i get to read inspirational words to push me along. it's clearly a win-win.

this is perhaps the greatest motivator for my getting healthy resolution. the place where i exercise offers free child care. child free exercise and then a hot, uninterrupted shower? that's as close as i'm going to get to a vacation for the foreseeable future!