Monday, October 20, 2014

Inspired By You Sweepstakes from Umi + Toobydoo {5 Grand Prize Winners!}

What inspires YOU? That's the theme of the latest sweepstakes from Umi Children's Shoes! This time they've partnered with Toobydoo, an amazing children’s apparel company.

Five Grand Prize winners will receive a $100 Umi gift card and $100 Toobydoo gift card!

To enter, just fill out the simple entry form at Umi. This sweepstakes ends on November 9, 2014, so enter today! Please note this sweepstakes is open to US residents only.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Support Local Farms by Shopping at Safeway

Buying from local farmers is important to me. When you buy locally, you're making a conscious choice to support your own community and also help limit the impact of the environmental footprint and transportation costs. I also thoroughly enjoy knowing what produce is actually in season, and not just shipped here from another country. Staying connected to where our food comes from also helps us incorporate healthier eating habits into our daily lives for ourselves, as well as for our children.
I received complimentary product and a gift card to bring you this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

In the Northern California region we have a lot of options for buying local including many farmers markets, CSA subscriptions, and even my neighborhood Safeway grocery store. In fact, this gorgeous basket of fruits and vegetables, provided by Safeway, came from local farms. Yes, this was towards the end of summer, (so some of these are perhaps out of season now!) but I'm finally feeling well enough to share the easy dinner I made with a few of these delicious ingredients. Perhaps my simple concoction of veggies will encourage your family to incorporate more fresh, local produce into your meals too.

With some quick chopping, zucchini, red peppers and yellow summer squash are ready to cook. I love such vibrant colors together. I wanted to just stare at them all day! They're so pretty!

Simply throw your veggies into your cast iron with some grass-fed butter and stir occasionally until cooked to your liking. I prefer to enjoy them just as they begin to soften, but definitely not soggy. This generally takes about 12-15 minutes.


I use a seasoned salt to season them up, and towards the end I added some leftover organic chicken (also from Safeway) that I had previously cooked for a well-rounded meal. Viola! A very simple, easy recipe that is not only healthy and satisfying, but LOCAL. The taste and quality of the veggies was excellent.

This simple recipe can be changed throughout the year to incorporate whatever veggies are in season. Oftentimes I enjoy substituting broccoli or carrots.

Safeway is dedicated to fostering tight-knit relationships with local growers in Northern California (and many other parts of the country) to ensure that locally sourced, quality produce is easily available to integrate into your meals at home. 

I enjoy shopping at my local Safeway for produce, especially when I know I can find a large assortment of organic and/or local produce throughout the year. They also seem to be making a great effort to continue to expand their organic and/or local options in every department too. Kudos to Safeway!

Tell me. Do you try to buy local?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Introducing NEW GoPro action cameras at Best Buy #GoProatBestBuy

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

When it comes to capturing memories from all your outdoor adventures, action cameras are the new must-have to bring along. Best Buy is the home of the latest top brands of cameras and camcorders, including the full line of new GoPro cameras and a broad assortment of accessories.

GoPro cameras make perfect holiday gifts for everyone, from kids and teens, to gadget gurus alike. GoPro’s new line of cameras allow you to beautifully and authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life in every season.

Three new GoPro HERO action cameras are available at Best Buy! Check out all the killer features below.

GoPro HERO4 Black - The most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.

GoPro HERO4 Silver - The first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling The camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.
GoPro HERO - Featuring high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 fps, HERO captures the same immersive footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world. 12x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates.

Whether you're an adventure seeker or a family memory-maker, a new GoPro HERO action camera is a great addition to your gift list this year. It's the must-have accessory to bring along for every life experience. Learn more at or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

#FallFashion from Umi Children's Shoes {Giveaway - Ends 10/24}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

It's finally fall! I can smell the crisp, cool air, can't you? Homeschooling or not, this is still a natural time of year for our family to shop for a new pair of shoes to last for the coming seasons. Most kids do A LOT of growing during the summer, and that's certainly held true for Buddy. With the new fall/winter collection from Umi Children's Shoes to browse, we chose a sneaker that would work as an everyday work-horse for my busy boy.

The Cruz II is a classic velcro sneaker style. As usual, Umi doesn't produce just basic, boring shoes, but instead always designs them to be a piece of your child's wardrobe instead of just an accessory. Contrasting stitching, fun colors, and details 'pop' throughout.

Made of canvas, a sueded leather on top and rubber, the Cruz II has a great combination of textures. My only complaint is that the light greyish rubber toe and sides around this style get dirty, and fast. With any boy, shoes are not going to look new for long, but I was surprised to find that I couldn't clean the rubber back to new condition after just a couple wears. Any contact with another surface has left permanent marks. This may be something to keep in mind when considering this particular style.

Buddy's favorite color is orange! He was happy to see a bit of orange on the top of the shoes, but the all-orange rubber outsoles delighted him completely. They're quite grippy, and I'm happy to report that my typically clumsy son hasn't tripped or slipped in these at all. There was definitely no break in period!

Buddy likes his new shoes for fall, especially since he doesn't have to learn to tie his shoes yet! ;) 

The Cruz II is available for $51 and comes in three colors. For more adorable styles for boys and girls from Umi this fall season, be sure to check them out at the links below.

Connect with Umi Children's Shoes
Win It!
One winner will receive a $60 gift card for a pair of Umi Childrens Shoes!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Low Calorie Foods That Will Fill You Up with Energy

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Sarah Smith.

Being hungry all day long is not something that you want to be. It is not something that you’re going to want to endure throughout the entire day. You however, do not want to dip into the candy stash, or keep snacking all day long - since the more you put in, the less you’re doing for your diet. With this being said, you’re able to eat some of the most delicious meals that are quick to put together and will keep you full until your next meal - no snacking required. You are able to have the energy needed to get through the day, and take on the challenges that might come your way. Check them out below!

Filling Grains

Grains of all kinds will be able to fill you up and keep you full for quite some time. They provide essential nutrients needed to provide well rounded nutritious low calorie snacks or meals. Make sure to portion yourself an ideal portion, without over doing it. Protein and fiber are both found in oats and can give you building blocks needed to start your day.

Energy Burning Greens

When it comes to eating your daily dose of fruits and veggies, many people skip out on them. They may not be getting enough within their diet and need to up the bar a little. When you make fruits and veggies a meal, you’re providing yourself with essential vitamins and nutrients needed to beat cravings throughout the day while also giving you the energy and lift you need. You actually burn more calories eating the greens then what you would find in the cup of them.

Beans are Diet Healthy

Beans provide nutritious benefits, but are also an excellent source of food when dieting. They have a low calorie count, which makes them ideal to have as a meal, while also filling you up quicker than some other options. In addition to these nutrients, you’re able to find antioxidants, fiber and a wide range of good carbs to fuel your day.

Milk Does the Body Good

Research suggests that drinking low fat to no fat milk can help keep you slim. There are also many health benefits from drinking milk such as being able to get vitamins from it that help teeth, bones and muscles. You can also opt for yogurt and cheese instead of the regular class of milk or a low fat chocolate milk as a low calorie snack after a hard work out to rejuvenate and replenish the muscles in your body.

After reading about all of this delicious food, you may be feeling hungry. Many people mistake the thought of food or even thirst for being hungry. Before going through the fridge in search of something to eat, consider drinking a glass of water and waiting a few minutes. If you still have that hungry feeling, then you can eat one of the choices of small low calorie snacks. You might surprise yourself though, and find that the urge to eat goes away. Eat healthy, eat happy and enjoy the day ahead!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Where Have I Been? Time to Reveal a Very BIG Secret!

Have you noticed the quiet pace of my blog lately? I'm ready to reveal a secret that I've been keeping for several months.....

Yep, I'm pregnant! If you've followed my blog since the beginning over 3 1/2 years ago, you'd know that we've been struggling with loss and infertility this whole time. We didn't know if we'd ever get to this point, but here we are with our healthy rainbow baby!

I'm finally beginning to feel like myself after a horrendously awful first trimester and actually a bit beyond too. I'm pretty sure I had minor degree of hyperemesis gravidarum this time around, which prevented me from doing pretty much anything other than veg on the couch in agony for weeks on end (I'm not joking). To say I'm relieved to be this far along is a major understatement.

I have plans to share about the progress of my pregnancy, including the highly anticipated gender reveal next month! I'm also hoping to feature lots of fantastic maternity and baby brands that I'll be using throughout my pregnancy and beyond.

Thank you for sticking with me! I had no way of knowing my first trimester would be as difficult as it was. I'm looking forward to jumping back into blogging grove with more frequent posts from here on!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cape Verde: the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation

Disclosure: This is a guest post brought to you by First Choice.

If you’re looking for a holiday destination that has plenty to offer all the family, Cape Verde could be it. This archipelago of volcanic islands located over 300 miles off the coast of Senegal boasts the ideal combination of relaxation and adventure. The islands are characterized by an intoxicating mixture of West African and Portuguese cultures and, though small, they contain an impressive variety of landscapes.

Whether you want to soak up the sun on a beach, get stuck into water sports or trek through lush forests, Cape Verde is the place to go, with something for all ages. Also, the destination benefits from an array of family resorts complete with pools. With top holiday makers like First Choice, flying out to Cape Verde throughout the year, here’s a quick rundown on what to expect.

Plenty to see and do

In total, Cape Verde comprises ten islands and at the east of the archipelago lies Boa Vista. Translated as ‘Beautiful View’, it is renowned for its stunning coastline. Encircled by white-sand beaches that have a distinctly tropical look and feel, this is a great location to de-stress.

Santo Antão is also well worth checking out. Punctuated by gorges and mountains, it offers some of the best hiking in West Africa. While the south of the island is arid, the north-east is home to pine forests and a plethora of plants. To make the most out of trips to Santo Antão, try to set aside a few days to explore the undulating terrain on foot.

The driest of the islands is Sal and, handily, this is served by a large international airport. The gentle and warm sea than laps this part of Cape Verde makes it the perfect place for wind and kite-surfing, scuba diving and general paddling.

Practical information

There are plenty of hotels to choose from on the archipelago, but for the best experiences, make sure you select accommodation that includes good facilities and services for family groups. Bear in mind that many hotels now offer kids’ clubs.

While the destination is pleasant year-round, it’s worth noting that the rainy season runs from mid-August to mid-October, and between December and March, you may need to pack some sweaters for the evenings. But always remember to pack plenty of sun cream!

As long as you plan your trip carefully, you should enjoy a fantastic break that will leave you and your family with memories to last a lifetime.

Images by Niall62 and, used under the Creative Commons license.