Sunday, December 19, 2010

Divinely Decadent French Toast


Well, I had all sorts of plans to blog about holiday foods, post recipes galore, chat about my favorite baby stuff (only five weeks till my "due date"), my favorite stocking stuffers...you get the idea. And I suppose, since my real life is just so busy right now, with the Christmas cards (addressing, stamping, and sealing all 84 is no small feat!), and the doctor's visits, daily chores, hosting my annual Christmas Open House, etc, etc, there just hasn't been much time left. Actually, there hasn't been much energy left. There is a small human growing in my belly!

So, to all my faithful readers, thanks for continually stopping by. I wish there was more content for you to read...and I have to say that I am not sure what will transpire after Baby Boy arrives. I may have to take a short hiatus, but do keep checking back in. I promise to try my best. Having the hard drive in my laptop crash was ultimately the demise in my production of blog posts. The Internet connection in our office is kind of slow, and without the portability of the laptop, I can no longer teach a homeschool lesson, play princess, cut and paste, or play a game of Candyland while simultaneously writing. There you have it.

It is pouring down rain today and my husband is home, so let's just see if I can post a quick recipe here for ya. Many of the wonderful recipes I post here come from other blogs, my own version of something I read in a magazine, or a healthy cookbook. This one is all mine. It is not complicated, but I will take credit for the inspiration. If you are having overnight guests for the holidays, this is sure to be a hit. I must admit that it does not quite follow the guidelines of my "healthy living" blog. So I will post two versions, one for those who might like to indulge a bit once in a while. I know I do!


DIVINELY DECADENT FRENCH TOAST

egg (s)
almond milk (or other milk variation)
vanilla
cinnamon
Mascarpone cheese
mixed berries
berry flavored yogurt
agave syrup
grapeseed oil

There are no specific measurements for this recipe, since you likely have made French toast before...just eyeball it. About one egg is required per 4 slices of bread you will be serving. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whip with a fork. Add almond milk (I add a bit of water since almond milk can be rather thick). Add a splash of vanilla to your liking, then sprinkle in a generous amount of cinnamon. Now you are ready to dip your bread. Place pan over medium heat and pray a small amount of grapeseed oil into pan. You can use another healthy oil, like coconut oil. I happen to like the neutral flavor of grapeseed oil. Coat slices of bread with egg mixture, then transfer to pan and brown on each side.

You can stop there if you want the healthier version. Add a pat of butter or butter substitute, swirl with agave, a pinch of cinnamon and serve. Keep reading for decadent, divine, oh-so-yummy version...

Okay, so you have your French toast. Now for the toppings. Scoop out a dollop (or two..or three) of Mascarpone cheese and put it on the toast. Add a couple tablespoons of a thin berry yogurt (I like "O Organics" raspberry from Safeway). Add fresh mixed berries if you can find them. Thawed-out frozen berries will work too. Top with a generous swirl of agave syrup and a pinch of cinnamon sprinkle. Voila'! The most divine French toast!

What I like about this kind of indulgence is that it doesn't completely stray away from my healthy lifestyle. I mostly gave up cow's milk a while back and it breaks that rule. For those who don't do cow's milk, you can use Toffuti Better Than Cream Cheese instead of the Marscapone and try So Delicious Coconut Milk yogurt in blueberry. The rest of the ingredients truly are healthy, but you won't know it when you taste it. It's the breakfast version of dessert! I served this to a girlfriend of mine and now she just HAS to have it when she pays us a visit. She unpacks her suitcase and politely asks if I will serve it EVERY morning of her stay. Watch out. Your guests may not want to leave!

Here's to an amazing holiday breakfast, and here's to your health!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It Feels Good 2 Give!!

Here is a super easy way to give to those in need and it won't cost you a penny! Go to http://www.good2give.com/ and find out how your everyday purchases at your favorite retailers can make a huge difference in the lives of others. I am loving this! Top retailers have teamed up with Good2Give....retailers like Amazon, Macy's, and many more. Can you make a difference? Yes, you can. Bookmark this page and get to shopping!

Here's to giving and here's to your health!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

About My Last Post

Okay, I am going to write a little disclaimer in reference to my last post, Not Just a Cow. As soon as I hit "publish", I knew I might get a few interesting responses. I got an anonymous comment (which I chose not to publish) addressing the mistreatment of animals, the killing of animals, etc. Ultimately, there was a link attached advocating a vegan lifestyle.

I absolutely agree, that there are problems with the food industry, and for many, a vegan lifestyle is the healthiest choice. I, however, believe that you can still eat meat and be healthy...and you can do it responsibly, by choosing grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, etc, etc, that are humanely treated. This is not an area I choose to debate on this blog. My previous post is about an organization that is trying to help people in severe poverty and hunger change their lives, with the milk, not the meat, of a cow.

That being said, and clarified, I pray that no one is offended by my post. I believed it to be information worth sharing...so I shared it.

Here's to your health!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not Just A Cow

Tis' the season for giving, right? For sharing with others. Few people have been untouched by the current situation with our economy. I know we have had our struggles. But despite that, when I look at situations elsewhere, across the globe, I am so grateful that I still live with great abundance in comparison. We have been richly blessed and I strive to instill this truth in my little one's heart all year long, but especially during the holiday season. Is is just holiday tradition? Or is that this time of year causes us all to come together? Whatever it is, the older I get, the more I enjoy the giving part. How about you?

Each year, my daughter helps me pick out items to put in our boxes for
Operation Christmas Child, we collect food for local food drives, and her favorite...putting change in the bucket as a volunteer rings, and rings, and RINGS that bell. I am glad she enjoys helping others. And when I come across another way to get involved and make a difference in others' lives, I want to check it out. Then I want to tell others all about it.

This morning I received information from
Crosswalk.com that grabbed my attention. If you are looking for ways to make a difference that lasts, please take a look at this short video clip from Heifer International. I wanted to embed it here, but it was not an option. So click HERE to see how one cow (yes, I said cow) can change many, many, many lives.

Here's to the gift of giving, and here's to your health!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is My Fish Truly Fish??

You may have heard about genetically engineered foods and have likely read about them here. Now there is a movement you should know about, a movement to stop the genetic engineering of fish. Yes, fish. The Center For Food Safety has been fighting against the agenda to genetically engineer foods for many years. While many fruits and vegetables in our country are currently being genetically engineered (GE), there has yet to be an approval by the FDA for an animal intended for food. However, there is currently a strong consideration by the FDA to approve a GE salmon and we need to be informed about the potential risks.

The human health impacts of eating GE fish are completely unknown, not to mention the potential risks for wild salmon and the entire marine environment. If the FDA decides to approve it despite the risks and public opposition, mandatory labeling required by the FDA will be the only way to protect the public's right to know what exactly is in our food. Currently there is no label for genetically engineered food. I believe this should change. Please take the time to watch the following clip for more information on GE salmon. Then go to
http://www.ge-fish.org/ to see how you can make your opinion count.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

GIVEAWAY from Clean Well

Clean Well is giving away cases of their yummy smelling orange-vanilla sanitizer wipes.

Visit the CleanWell Facebook Page and upload a photo of you, your kids or even your pets in their Halloween costumes and then encourage your friends to join our Facebook Page to "Like" your photo. The 5 photos that receive the most number of "Likes" will win a case of Orange Vanilla Canister wipes!

Click HERE for full details.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Flashback Friday

If you are wondering what to do about that enormous candy stash your little ones will collect tomorrow, here is my post from last year that will give you a few ideas on how to cut down on sugar intake:

Tweak the Treats!

Today seems to mark the official beginning of our season of special treats. Whether you participate in this holiday or not, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and more are right around the corner, and there will be goodies o' plenty at every turn. So, what does this healthy livin' mommy think about all of the sugary treats?

Well, tonight we will be attending an event at our church, and there will be plenty of candy involved. I cannot hope for my little one to say "no thank you" to all of those yummy sweets. Of course I want to limit her sugar intake, but I want her to enjoy herself.

When it comes to special days like this, birthday parties, etc, I don't fret too much. It is only one day, and since I am doing my best all throughout the year to keep nutritious, healthy food in our diets, I can shrug my shoulders and let my kiddo have a good time. But do I want my three-year-old consuming all of her giant candy loot? No way. So here are a few ideas to help parents put a lid on the candy intake!

  • Buy their candy! Let your kids choose a handful of their favorites and "buy" the rest from them. Set a price of 5 to 25 cents per piece of candy, depending on the size of their collection (and their age). Then let them put that toward a special toy or other item they've had their eye on. OR instead of using cash, buy them out with stickers or other fun stuff!

  • I read about one mom showing her kids "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and then allowing them to keep a portion of their candy, and offering the rest to "the Great Pumpkin" (in reality, it's daddy, who hauls the loot off to work on Monday morning!)

  • Make a trade! Let your kids keep a few pieces in their bag, and trade the others for some healthier options. Here are a few ideas for replacements that are not necessarily "healthy", but are a better alternative to the more common treats filled with hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors and colors.

1. Fill a small bag with trailmix, carob chips, raisins, pretzels, or one of their other favorite snack foods.

2. Yummy Earth organic lollypops (my daughter's favorite)

3. SunSpire's natural candy bars and Sundrops- colorful "m & m"-like chocolate treats

4. Cliff Kid Organic Twisted Fruit

5. Annie's Organic BunnyFruit Snacks
(can all be found at Whole Foods and other health food stores, and Amazon)

These are just a few ideas to make your holiday a little bit healthier, but just as SWEET!

Here's to your health!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clean For a Cause

As you all may know, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you don't know someone who has battled this terrible disease, it is likely you know someone who has been affected by it in some way. Mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, aunties. So many lives lost each year, but we can hold on to the hope for a cure!

The month is more than half way over, but I want to share this link from Clean Well. There is still time to purchase their Clean For a Cause spray. Fifty percent of proceeds will go to Cancer 101, founded by Monica Knoll.

Click HERE for details!

Here's to the fight against Breast Cancer!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Better Than Cream Cheese


Well, I haven't been blogging much this last month or so. The hard-drive in my laptop is shot, we had family in town, and oh, there is that pregnancy thing. Life has been busy. I have many things I want to write about, yet the time just isn't available for me to do so. Tonight, I have time for a quick recipe. With pregnancy comes food, lots of food. And cravings! I am not one of those pregnant ladies who eats pickles and ice cream. Pickles, yes. Ice cream, yes. But not together!

I do have plenty of cravings though. Who wouldn't when much of your day is consumed by hunger? The other day I thought of a sandwich I hadn't had in years. There is a great little place in southern California called The Gypsy Den. They have this cool, vintage setting, a mish-mosh of furniture and art displayed, and shelves of books to sit with if you have nothing else on your agenda for the day. And they have fresh, yummy food! I love all their food, but the other day, all I could think about was their Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwich....so I made my own version of it.

I have tried a few cheese substitutes and find them okay, but not great. Recently I have tried a couple of really amazing substitutes. It is hard to tell the difference! One of those substitutes is Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese . Since I have mostly given up dairy, it is great to find a creamy, yummy spread for this sanBetter Than Cream Cheesedwich craving of mine.

Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwich

Sprouted grain bread (toasted)
Cream cheese or substitute
Cucumber slices
Sliced black olives

Toast two slices of sprouted grain bread. Spread layer of Tofutti cream cheese on one or both sides. Add sliced olives to one side, then add the cucumber slices. Assemble sandwich. Yum! For added nutritional value, you may add some baby spinach leaves or sprouts.

Here's to your health! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hunger Action Month

Did you know that more than 49 million Americans struggle with hunger? That is 1 in 6 people! September is Hunger Action Month. There is still plenty of time to participate this month, and of course, all year long, helping those in need. Here are a few ways you can make a difference:
  • Donate-Your contribultion makes a big impact; $1 helps provide 7 meals to those in need.
  • Raise awareness in your community by spreading the word. Tell your friends and neighbors and reach out to legislators.
  • Volunteer-Contact your local Feeding America food bank and learn how you can help.
You can also take action with Feeding America partners. There are several listed on the website. For example, The Cheesecake Factory invites guests to pledge in the fight against hunger in America. If you donate just $5 or more through the Cheesecake Factory Hunger Action Month microsite, you will receive a certificate for a FREE slice of cheesecake. Yum! Also, Macy's hosts Shop For A Cause on October 16. Buy a savings pass for $5 at any Macy's store this month; a portion of each pass sold benefits Feeding America.

To learn more, go to www.HungerActionMonth.org

Here's to helping out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Free Lunch Sack!

Funny thing. Someone posted a comment on my last post, complaining that I was posting about a product's sale. I don't know about you, but I love a great bargain...especially on health products. If I find a sale worth noting, I'm going to share it with you! Who doesn't need to save a little money these days? So, here is another great deal...and it's FREE. Well, with a purchase of two Annie's Homegrown products. I already buy Annie's Homegrown, so this isn't a stretch for me. Click below for details on how to receive a free reusable lunch sack!

Here's to a great deal and here's to your health!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sheer Miracle Sale!

One of my favorite mineral makeup companies is having a sale. Sheer miracle has great foundations, and now you can buy one get one! Click the picture below to enter their site. Here's to healthy skin...on a budget!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Flashback Friday!

Here are some healthy grillin' tips I posted last year right around this time. Have a great Labor Day weekend everybody!

With Labor Day right around the corner, you may have one last chance for a summer BBQ. Of course, since we live in beautiful Hawaii (sorry to rub it in), we cook out all throughout the year. Here are a few tips for healthy grillin'.

If you're grilling up burgers, choose grass-fed beef. What is the difference between grass-fed and corn-fed? Well, put a cow out in the pasture and what does it eat? Grass. Due to a very high number of cattle being raised for food, ranchers began feeding cows corn to try to reduce damage to the land from overgrazing. Well, cows don't digest corn so the result is fattier beef, higher in cholesterol and saturated fats, which as you know, are linked to coronary heart disease. A better solution for the industry might be to raise fewer, healthier cattle....but that is another discussion. I like to feature local Hawaii companies when I can, so if you are here in Hawaii, try Northshore Cattle Company. One serving of grass fed beef has about the same Omega-3 essential fatty acids as a serving of fish. That is great news for burger lovers!

A cook-out just isn't the same without a Dawg! Hotdogs are the all-American food. I get nostalgic when I eat them-they bring back lots of childhood memories. I have tried many healthier versions of the hotdog. Whether turkey or chicken or beef, I always ended up a little disappointed...until I found Applegate Farms' all-natural, organic, nitrate-free, grass-fed beef hotdog. Reminiscent of the classic hotdog of my youth, this one of the yummiest and healthiest dogs around. AND they are the only ones that don't leave me regretting that I chose to eat a hot dog...if you know what I mean.

If you're serving one up for me, don't hold the pickles. I was craving pickles a while back as I shopped at Whole Foods and came across a brand I hadn't heard of before-Bubbies. They are excellent! Bubbies are crunchy, kosher, delicious pickles that have a little spicy kick. And they have something other pickles don't-live, active cultures. A pickle that is yummy and good for you too?

Last, but not least are the sauces. I'm a sauce kind of girl. I like to load my goodies with ketchup, mayo, and mustard. There are some great, healthier choices at health food stores. I choose Organic Ville ketchup because it's organic and it's sweetened with agave syrup instead of high-fructose corn syrup. I also recommend Westbrae Naturals mustard, Miso Mayo, and Vegennaise (instead of mayo).

Quick tip: When you're cookin' on the grill, be sure the grill has been cleaned thoroughly from the last time you BBQ'd and avoid charring your food because it can create carcinogens.

Here's to fun, healthy grillin'!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finally...Safe (& Green) Cookware!


Are you concerned about non-stick cookware? Maybe some of you are not even aware of the health risks. If you are not aware, non-stick cookware contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a synthetic chemical used in production that creates a soap-like slipperiness and non-stick finish. I have known the risks for years, and switched to stainless steal pans long ago. But I must admit, I hung on to one or two of my non-stick pans for cooking eggs and French toast. I was careful not to heat them past "medium", however not everyone in my house did the same...my hubby does not always pay close attention to those little details.

It just takes one or two times overheating your non-stick pan to burn it, leaving it not so non-stick anymore. More importantly, even on lower heats, these pans are known to "off gas" dangerous chemicals and heavy metals into your food and into the air. I don't know about you, but I don't buy grass-fed beef and organic veggies with the intention of spicing them up with toxins. What's the point of buying healthy food if you aren't preparing it in the healthiest manner possible?

We try to eat a lot of raw,organic foods throughout the day. But when I am cooking, I want to know that I am still doing my very best to keep it healthy and safe for my family. I have been doing some research lately and I discovered a line of cookware that may just be exactly what I have been looking for. I discovered it on Dr. Mercola's website. Not only was I very impressed with the cookware offered, but also with this website. A lot of very valuable information about health was presented, and in a manner that was easy to understand.

Of all the options out there, I am very excited to try Mercola cookware. After hearing the information presented on the site, I think this cookware is a best buy. I was aware of the leaching in non-stick cookware, yet I was not as educated on some of the other options. I was surprised to find that my high-end stainless steel cookware could possibly be leaching a variety of heavy metals. And my tea kettle? Also a high probability that it is leaching!

What is a mom to do? Well...her best, of course. So now that I have found Mercola cookware, I think I just might be making the switch. Check out Dr. Mercola's website for more information.

Here's to your health!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is There Lead In Your Balsamic?

Have any of you read the fine print on the back of your balsamic vinegar bottle and found this Prop 65 warning: This product contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

I discovered this warning a couple years back, and have checked labels on my vinegar ever since. I have looked at several brands in big chain stores and health food stores alike. I just could not seem to find a balsamic that does not contain lead.

When researching this a little, I found that some claim that the lead occurs because of the processing of the vinegar and some say that the grapes absorb it from the ground during the aging process. Either way, it seems that we are just supposed to accept the fact that there is lead in our balsamic vinegar. So what about red wine vinegar? I have seen some warnings on them as well. And what about red wine? How are we to trust that there aren't levels of lead found in more aged products? Are they being tested? We worry about lead in our children's toys. Must we now worry that we are tossing lead into our salads as well?

Some of my readers know, and some may not know that I am pregnant with our second child. Exciting! The last thing I want to do is jeopardize the health of this unborn baby. And studies show that there are no safe levels of lead. Even a small amount can cause birth defects and other problems. After searching the Internet for a bit last night, I came across a company that states that it's vinegars are guaranteed to be lead free. I have yet to try this brand, but I am certainly going to. I am always searching for the highest quality, most natural products out there, so I just had to share this with you all as well.

Now, Prop 65 was issued by the state of California, so only brands regulated in that state will have this warning. However, even if your vinegar does not have the warning, it likely contains lead.

Lucini Italia is the brand I just discovered. Go to www.lucini.com and check their store finder to see where you can pick up a bottle of their fine vinegars and other products.

Here's to your health!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Go Flourless!!

Okay, so maybe you have tried sprouted grain bread and you didn't really like it. It may be fine for some people, but you aren't quite ready to make the switch. It's a bit dense, and kind of grainy, you say? Well, compared to the Wonder Bread we were raised on, you're right. But....

I want to try to convince you to try sprouted grain again. Are you willing to give it one more try? The first time I ate sprouted grain bread, I thought it was awful. I didn't eat it again for many years. Now it is the only type of bread I buy. Why? It is highly nutritious, low in digestible carbs, and low-glycemic. AND it tastes great!

Before you decide that sprouted grain bread is not for you, let me tell you that there are many more options out there than you might know about. Ezekiel bread by Food For Life is technically the "original". It is probably the most nutritious as well. But it is not the only brand available. Many other companies are offering sprouted grain choices.

I must say this...I think the key to eating sprouted grain bread (with the exception of the tortillas) is browning it, whether in the toaster, toaster oven, or pan. With that, here are my top picks for sprouted grain You will be surprised at just how delicious they are, and who knows? You may be ready to trade that Wonder Bread just yet.

First, you just have to try Ezekiel sprouted grain English muffins. They are 100% flourless, but you would never guess it. I promise you won't be disappointed with these. They toast up very nicely, with little nooks and crannies for your favorite spread to sink in. Crispy on the outside when toasted, yet nice and gooey center...yes, they are 100% flourless! You may also want to try Ezekiel hamburger and hotdog buns.

Another favorite-spouted grain tortillas. Ezekiel tortillas are more dense and grainy. I like to dip them in hummus. They are good, but they fall apart quite easily. My new favorite tortilla is from French Meadow. They are 100% flourless, and again, you would never guess. They are soft and pliable, making them great for quesadillas and wraps.

Try this with a French Meadow tortilla: Heat one up in a saucepan or tear one in half and warm it in the toaster. Melt a pat of butter or a bit of coconut oil over the warm tortilla, add a little agave nectar and cinnamon, then roll it. A bit reminiscent of a churro. Yum!

This last recommendation is for Alvarado Street breads. I have tried many of their varieties and have loved them all. My two favorites are the Essential Flax Seed, and the Sourdough. The Sourdough is fantastic for sandwiches, and it yields a delicious French Toast!

With so many options to choose from, why not try them all and see which you like best? Sprouted grain breads and tortillas are high in fiber and protein, and they are a living food, with the grains coming together to give you optimum nutrition in a bread. Is it time to go flourless?

Here's to sprouted grain and here's to your health!

Monday, August 2, 2010

FREE SHIPPING on CLEAN WELL!

It's Back To School time and to help you stock up on hand sanitizers, CleanWell is offering free shipping until August 15th! Click HERE to get the code for free shipping.

Here's to healthy kids!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Quick Beauty Tip

The next time you slice open a yummy avocado to spread on a sandwich or add to your salad, don't throw the rind away just yet. Scrape out that last bit and moisturize! That's right. Avocado not only has essential nutrients for your insides, but amazing benefits for your skin as well.

Try this: Simply rub a bit of avocado into your hands, feet, or anywhere you need extra moisturizing. Then rinse excess with a little water, and pat dry. Your skin will be nourished, and will feel super soft and supple.

When it comes to skincare, nature always provides the absolute best! Here's to healthy skin, and here's to your health!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics : Just Launched: The Story of Cosmetics


You have read it here many times...there are toxic chemicals all around us. I have touched on the subject of cosmetics and have reviewed just a few of my favorite healthy choices for cosmetics, and will continue to do so. Here is a great little clip that breaks it all down for us. And you can make a difference by making your voice heard. Click on the link below to watch The Story of Cosmetics.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics : Just Launched: The Story of Cosmetics

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What Is A Baby Carrot?

Ever wonder where baby carrots come from? Well, I hadn't either until I came across a link about them. Ah, the Internet. Such a plethora of information out there. Well, a while back I started a series of posts I call, Every Day Toxins. One of the toxins I have highlighted is chlorine. I will continue to post information about chlorine and ways to keep a chlorine-free home.

This link is not about chlorine. It is about baby carrots. But I mentioned chlorine because it is part of the process for non-organic baby carrots. They are soaked in a chlorine solution before packaged. Now, I must note that it is a low concentration of chlorine in the water and it is widely accepted as a safe and effective way to disinfect. However, it does makes me very glad I choose organic. Anyway, the following link is kind of an interesting little history on baby carrots. Lately I have just been sticking to the larger ones. They generally cost less, stay fresh longer, and pack more nutrition. But there is nothing wrong with baby carrots. They are sweet and yummy, and quite perfect for dipping!

http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/babycarrot.html


Here's to veggies and here's to your health!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tube Your Lashes!

Every girl has stories about her first experiments with makeup. I remember a classmate in high school who was known for constantly adding layers to her mascara throughout the day. It was like she only had five eyelashes by the end of the day. She was a bit obsessed with it I think! When I met her my freshman year, I had never worn mascara. She took one look at my lashes and begged me to let her put a little on me. I agreed (to just one coat). I was a bit nervous, but one look in the mirror, seeing how my eyes just popped...I loved my new look. Now I just had to convince my mom!

Have dark circles under your eyes? Well, it might not be just lack of sleep. The pigment used in some mascaras can bleed and deposit right into your skin. Years ago, I heard that cosmetic companies use coal tar in mascara. Yuck! I started looking for a natural formula. I have since done some research and I cannot seem to get a clear answer. Is there tar in mascara? Some sources say that the tar myth is simply that, a myth. Others report differently. Well, I will have to continue in my research and report back to you later. For now, I will recommend a great product I've found that definitely does not contain coal tar, and does not run!

If you know me well, you know that I have been accused of wearing false lashes, on more than one occasion. It is a blessed genetic gift bestowed by my dad. Ah, but don't worry. The scales were evened out, as I also inherited his feet! With this burden of long lashes to bear, I am a bit picky about choosing a mascara. I have tried lots of different brands through the years, and when I went all-na-tu-ral with my makeup, the natural mascaras did not do much to impress me. They were okay, but just did not have the performance of some of the more popular brands. I've gone back and forth between different brands, trying to find one that looked great and didn't contain all the chemicals.

In my search for natural mascaras, I have found most of them just don't seem to have the stay power a girl is lookin' for! Now I am using blinc (formerly Kiss Me) mascara. This is such a cool product! You put the mascara on and it forms little tiny tubes around your lashes. To remove, you just use warm water and apply a little pressure. No makeup remover needed. No rubbing your eyes and no irritation.

What I love about this product is that it really stays put. While I don't purposely wear makeup for workouts, I sometimes exercise in the evening when makeup is already on from the day. I can be dripping with sweat and my mascara does not run. And the ultimate test for us ladies...a good cry-yes, it passed that test as well. I'm not talking about a few tears here either. I have had a total sobbing fit and this mascara stayed in tact.

But when it comes time to take it off? Piece of cake. Just use warm water, apply a little pressure and the tubes come off. It is a little strange at first...almost looks like you are pulling your lashes out. Oh, and best of all, I never get those yucky glops of mascara sleep gunk in the corner of my eyes. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about!

Okay, so I wish I could say that this product is absolutely natural. It does NOT contain tar, but it does have a couple ingredients that are on my no-no list. Despite this, I am giving it a pass, because once this mascara dries, it is DRY, and the product does not continuously get deposited into your skin. The mascara is a little tricky to work with at first. If you are picky like me, you want your lashes to look just so. When using blinc mascara, just have your eyelash comb ready to go to get the look you want. If you want to apply more than one coat, it needs to be done before it dries, not after. When it dries, it is set. While the packaging says it does not flake, I have had a tiny flake here and there (very tiny) during hot and humid weather. But this is by far, the best performing mascara I have tried.

Although this is a healthy-living blog, this post was more about sharing a favorite exception to the rule. While I live my life looking for the healthiest products out there, once in a while I find a happy compromise, and this is the case with blinc mascara.

So, here's to fabulous lashes!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tune In!!!

I received a very important email update from Healthy Child Healthy World. Please join me and tune in to watch CNN's special, Toxic America!

Wednesday and Thursday, June 2nd and 3rd, at 8pm EST, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be airing an eye-opening investigative story: Toxic America. If you care about public and environmental health, it's must-see TV.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts the two-part program, revealing devastating results from a year-long investigation.

Wednesday night highlights “Toxic Towns” and will delve into the environmental health and justice problems plaguing the community of Mossville, Louisiana. Mossville is not an isolated example, but instead a poster child for a broken chemical safety system.

Thursday night highlights the “Toxic Childhood” and features Healthy Child founders, Jim and Nancy Chuda; Scientific Advisor, Dr. Phil Landrigan; and our “A Wake-Up Story” video. This second part of the series reveals the effect toxics have on unborn babies.

Here's what you can do:

  • Have your friends over to watch the show on June 2nd and/or 3rd or record the series to share with others in the future.
  • Tell other to watch by using these suggested status updates:
    • Facebook: Will be watching America’s toxic little secrets revealed by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on June 2 & 3 at 8pmEST/5pmPST. If you care about public and environmental health, it’s MUST SEE TV!
    • Twitter: MUST SEE TV: CNN special on Toxic America – June 2-3 at 8pmEST/5pmPST – Watch and learn! Plz RT
  • Take Action to help prevent these tragedies by emailing your members of Congress and asking them to support a strong Safe Chemicals Act.
  • Get your friends to stay involved and informed by having them sign-up for the Healthy Child newsletter.

Please join us in tuning in!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ear Bud Alert

Here is a quick tip for the day. I read this in Parents Magazine a while back.

Listen up! New research results that frequently using headphones for 30-plus minutes at a time significantly increases the amount of bacteria in the ear. "We think buds raise temperature and humidity in the ear canal, making the environment favorable for bacterial growth, " says study author Chianjay Mukhopadhyay, M.D., of Manipal University, in India. Though generally harmless, the bacteria could lead to infection if the buds irritate your skin enough to tear it, so make sure yours are comfy.

In addition, it can be common for family members to share iPods, etc. It is a good idea for each individual to have their own ear buds. And be sure to sanitize ear buds between uses. I simply spray mine with Clean Well sanitizing spray. It is a quick and easy way to prevent bacteria from building up on those buds. If you have young children, pick up a pair of kid ear phones that are designed just for kids, producing sound in a lower decibel to prevent damage to little ears. It is best if those fit over the ear, and not in it. Check Target or other stores in your area for kid-friendly headphones.

Here's to rockin' out with healthy ears!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Use Lace on My Face!


When it comes to your skincare regimen, skip the scrub and grab the lace. Lace For The Face, that is! What is it and how do you use it? It is a beautiful little terrycloth washcloth with a lace overlay that is used for daily cleansing with your facewash. It is dermatologist recommended, suitable for sensitive skin, and hypoallergenic.

I bought my Lace For The Face recently at my local health food store and I LOVE it! I use it every other day (though it can be used every day) to exfoliate my skin. It gently sloughs away dead skin, while lifting dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells out of your pours. My skin feels silky smooth and my pours are visibly smaller.

Lace For The Face can be used on your entire body. No need to buy expensive scrubbing products. Use it on your entire body to help with rough skin, sun damage, ingrown hairs, and blemishes. The packaging actually states that you can use it to "spot treat" pimples. Oh how I wish that I no longer dealt with the occasional zit, but I still break out at least...um, once a month. I recently tried using it on my blemish, and it worked. Unlike popping pimples, which is bad for the skin, applying a little bit of pressure with this exfoliating cloth can safely open it up!

I'm done with scrubs. Its just Lace for my face! Find this natural microdermabrasion cloth at your local health food store or go to http://www.lacefortheface.com/.

Package warning: If you have had painful, bleeding, scaring acne, or any other serious or painful skin condition, consult your dermatologist prior to use of any microdermabrasion product. Do not use around eye area."

Here's to beautiful skin, and here's to your health!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nissan LEAF - Public Drive Reaction

Check out the new Nissan LEAF, a 100% electrical, zero emissions vehicle that seats up to five and boasts speeds up to 90 mph. Click the link below to see what people are saying about it.

Nissan LEAF - Public Drive Reaction

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day Special

I love Green Toys. Green Toys turns recycled milk cartons into adorable, high quality, safe toys. They are BPA free, environmentally friendly, and made in the USA, so you can feel great about buying these awesome toys for the special little ones in your life. Right now, Diapers.com is having a great Earth Day special in support of Healthy Child Healthy World.

Click HERE for details!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Virus, Virus, Go Away!


I must apologize that I am slacking off just a bit lately. A few days before Easter, my little one caught a little bug-a virus, that is. I immediately started loading her up on my Go-To List of natural remedies...and a couple days later she was feeling great. Then I woke up with a nasty sore throat, so of course I too, reached for my Top Immunity Boosters.

I fought off the virus for a couple days, and all seemed just dandy. Ah, but a few days later...it was back with a vengeance! So, I had to change things up a bit. You see, sometimes even your most trusted regimen may not work against all illnesses. If one thing isn't working, you may want to switch it up. Thankfully, I have a lot of natural remedies to turn to. I loaded up on a few super-duper remedies, and within 24 hours, I am now feeling just on the verge of normal.

So add these to my list of favorites...and then add them to yours!

Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries and is proven to suport the immune and cardiovascular systems. I often cook with garlic, and incorporate it raw into sauces and salad dressings. If you really want to boost your immunity, especially while fighting off those nasty viruses, a little garlic just won't cut it. Unless you want to smell like an Italian kitchen, concentrated garlic tablets are the way to go. I recently found Garlic Factors by Natural Factors. It is a highly concentrated dose of garlic, odor controlled, and enteric coated (which means it will only release in your stomach, and not on it's way down). After taking just one dose, I immediately saw improvement. Keep this one handy at all times!

Olive Leaf Extract

Olive leaf extract has been getting a lot of attention lately. Many natural lifestyle followers have been swearing by it for years. "Medical use of olive leavesdates back to ancient Egypt and is referenced by Hippocrates and now in modern medical texts. Olive leaf is used around the world as a health tonic and powerful antioxidant." It supports a healthy immune system, healthy blood pressure, healthy cardiovascular system, and healthy joints. And it boasts more antioxidant power than Vitamin C, Grape Seed Extract, Vitamin E, Green Tea, and many others. You can buy it in the pill form, but I highly recommend Barlean's Olive Leaf Complex. Barlean's Organic Oils is a trusted source of superb natural products.

Colloidal Silver

Another great immune support getting lots of attention in the health industry. The most popular brand and the only choice for me is Sovereign Silver. It has no odor, almost no flavor, is easily absorbed, and is a safe and effective way to boost immunity. You might be wondering a bit about this one...silver? For more information on how it works, visit www.soverignsilver.info.

UMKA

Once you are sick, boosting your immunity is very important, but it is also nice to have a natural product to sooth those uncomfortable cold symptoms. The sore throat, the cough, congestion, etc. I recently tried Umka Cold Care, by Nature's Way, and I am impressed. Umka is made from Pelagonium sidoides roots and has its origins in traditional Southern African folk medicine. A leading remedy in Europe, Umka works differently than other over-the-counter cold medicines. It doesn't just mask symptoms. It shortens the duration and speeds recovery. And the best part? It is all natural, sugar-free, and absolutely safe for kids.

Being sick is no fun. When you feel the symptoms of an illness coming on, be sure to get lots of rest, hydrate, and boost your immunity. If a sore throat persists, it may be a sign of infection, and you should seek proper medical attention. Always consult a physician or holistic health practitioner before something new and especially before giving it to a child.

Here's to kicking that virus, and here's to your health!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Flashback Friday

Happy Good Friday! Easter is just two days away, and whether you are having a small family gathering or a big feast, here is a salad recipe I posted for Thanksgiving. It's so simple and delicious, a great dish to serve at your table or bring along to a potluck for sharing.

Blue Cheese & Granny Smith Salad

organic mixed baby greens
Granny Smith apple
crumbled blue cheese
candied pecans
balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Use desired amount of ingredients listed. We like our salads hearty, and I often say that we added a little lettuce to our salad :) Make it how you like!

1. Cut desired amount of apple into small chunks
2. Add blue cheese and pecans
3. Toss all ingredients with baby greens, balsamic, and olive oil
4. Add just a bit of black pepper and cinnamon for extra flare (optional)

I often make this salad with raw pecans, or with Trader Joe's lightly sweetened pecans. (I stock up on these when we visit the mainland). But if you want to make them yourself, here is a nice recipe for candied pecans from my favorite gluten-free blog, Elana's Pantry. I made them tonight. I was out of yacon syrup so I used agave nectar. These nuts offer just a hint of sweetness to your salad or enjoy them all by themselves.


Candied Pecans

2 cups pecans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons yacon syrup (or agave)
½ tsp sea salt

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl
Place in a pyrex baking dish
Bake at 350° for 15 minutes
Cool and serve

Also, if you are looking for healthier goodies to fill up those Easter baskets, click HERE for a few ideas :)

Here's to great food. Here's to a blessed Easter celebration! Here's to your health!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dye Your Eggs With Vegetables!


If you're looking for a fun little science experiment to do with your kids, here is a truly natural way to dye eggs this Easter. I was reading Clementine Art's blog and found this recipe for natural egg coloring quite intriguing. I am always looking for interesting projects to do with my daughter. She would just love this! A while back I wrote a review for some of Clementine Art products. They are great quality, natural art products for kids. Check out their blog, Darling Clementine, for more creative art ideas, at www.clementineboulder.blogspot.com.

For the egg dying recipe, click
HERE

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Toxin-Free Tub

A while back, I started a series of posts regarding "everyday toxins". It has been a while since I have posted in this subject area, but I felt compelled to do so today. I have wanted to address one particular everyday toxin for some time now. This is one commonly found in houses across the nation and around the world. CHLORINE.

Here is a description I found online for chlorine:

Chlorine is a highly poisonous, greenish yellow gas, about two and a half times as dense as air, and with a strong, sharp, choking
odor. It was, in fact, one of the first poisonous gases used in warfare—in 1915 during World War I. In spite of its disagreeable nature, there are so many everyday products that contain chlorine or are manufactured through the use of chlorine that it is among the top ten chemicals produced in the United States each year. In 1994, more than 24 billion lb (11 billion kg) of chlorine were produced.

Did you note the part about it being a poisonous gas used in warfare? How about the "choking odor" part? Actually, that description is absolutely accurate, as it was used for that very reason.

So why is it that we find this chemical so widely used today? We know that chlorine is highly effective in killing bacteria. It is used in common household cleaners, in pools, and in our water supply. But through the years, sanitation has improved and alternatives to chlorine exist, though they are not widely used.

I am not writing this post to address alternatives to chlorine, but to share with you, if were not already aware, that chlorine is in fact, a poison; to let you know that your exposure to this toxic chemical is likely far higher than you think; and to show you a simple way to reduce it.

So, you may be thinking that you don't go swimming very often, and that you don't need to worry about chlorine exposure, while in fact, you are at risk every day. You see, since chlorine is added to the water supply to kill bacteria, you are literally bathing (and possibly drinking) it each and every day.

You might also be thinking that this is no big deal, and that you don't seem to notice any effects of this. But when it comes to toxic chemicals, there is often a cumulative effect that happens over time. You wouldn't reach for a household cleanser and sprinkle it into the water, just before you climb into a nice hot bath, would you? In reality, you're kind of doing this just by turning on the faucet.

Here's the problem: When you take a toxic chemical and heat it up in your bath or shower, not only are you absorbing it through the pores in your skin, you are also breathing in the steam, taking it right to your lungs and into your bloodstream.

So what can you do? A simple solution is to add a filter to your shower. Shower filters are inexpensive and require little maintenance, just a filter change about six months to a year. Easy enough, right? You can type in "shower filter" on Amazon or other sites, or search Gaiam Living for different types of these filters. They are very effective at removing chlorine, and other water contaminants.

Now for the bath. This is very important parents!! Protect your little one from the harmful effects of chlorine and other contaminants. Their little bodies are still developing, and the effects of everyday toxins are much more damaging to these precious ones. A simple solution for the tub is what is called a "bath ball". You can purchase one of these balls on Amazon or check your local health food store. By swirling it in the bath water for about one to two minutes, you neutralize the chlorine and it changes the chemical compound into one that is harmless. I keep one of these balls handy for travel.

Okay, if you are highly sensitive to chemicals like I am, you also have the option of purchasing what is called a whole-house filter. You can contact a company in your area that provides water softening tanks. They usually offer whole-house filtering tanks as well as options for your drinking water. This is a more costly option, but highly effective in removing multiple contaminants (including chlorine, pesticides, petroleum byproducts, and heavy metals) from the water supply in your home.

Take the time to research. Know what's in your local water supply. We don't have much control over our exposure to environmental toxins. This is one time that you do. Stay tuned for more chlorine-free tips on To Your Health!

Here's to truly natural water and here's to your health!


*For Hawaii residents here on Oahu, you can contact AAA Best Water for all your filtration and softening needs. If you are in Orange County, California, try Water By Design.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gone Bananas

I got this in an email today, so I am just pasting it here for you all. I love this kind of stuff...it encourages me to keep eating the amazing foods God has created for us, not only for us to enjoy, but most importantly, for our benefit. And this is just ONE of many natural, yummy foods to choose from!!....

A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas. He said the expression "going bananas" is from the effects of bananas on the brain. Read on:

Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!
This is interesting.
After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia : High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

PressureBlood : This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips.. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady..

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance.. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

**Want a quick shine on your shoes? Take the INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe...polish with dry cloth.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wholly Organic??

Okay, I love Whole Foods. We are there every week, picking up our favorite gourmet cheeses, deli meats, and much, much more. But when a friend of mine emailed this to me a while back, I was disappointed, and of course, I knew I had to share this with all of you. Will I stop shopping at Whole Foods? No way. I will, however, be reading their store-brand labels with much more scrutiny. Click the arrow and watch this news report:


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another New Clean Well Product


Here is yet another new product from Clean Well, making it even more convenient to sanitize your hands, instantly. I can't wait to try this new hand sanitizing foam! This is a great one for teachers to have on their desks. Mommies, this will come in handy just about anywhere, especially in kitchens, bathrooms, and nurseries.

Get 20% off a two pack of foam now through February 22! Click here for details.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Choose Fair Trade

Now is the time of year when more than 20 million Americans are buying sweets and flowers for their loved ones on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, these tokens of love aren't as sweet or pure as they may appear. Over 40 percent of the world's conventional chocolate (i.e. non-organic and non-Fair Trade) comes from Africa's Ivory Coast, where the International Labor Organization and US State Department have reported widespread instances of child slavery. Meanwhile, commercial flowers, most of which are produced in countries such as Colombia, are the most toxic and heavily sprayed agricultural crops on Earth. Supplying the global market, poorly paid workers in Third World countries put in up to 18 hour work days for poverty wages during peak flower buying times such as Valentine's Day. But don't let the bad news squelch your Valentine's plans. Show your love by choosing Fair Trade and organic flowers and chocolate for your Valentine's Day gifts.


Read more about this and other important stories here on the Organic Cosumers Association website.

Here's to your health!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Healthy Child Healthy World

If you wonder where I get my information for some of the issues I write about in this blog, here is a video clip from one of my resources. It is one of the best out there. You can receive their updates via email or visit their site anytime for the latest news and ideas for a healthier home. Here's to your health!

A Wake-Up Story from Healthy Child Healthy World on Vimeo.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Surface Wipes, Powered by Clean Well!

You all know that I am a big fan of Clean Well. My bathrooms and kitchen are stocked with their soaps, and I carry my handy little sanitizing spray wherever I go. I am happy to tell you that you can now have the safe and natural, sanitizing power of Clean Well in your disinfecting wipes!

Seventh Generation has teamed up with Clean Well to give Clean Well fans what they have been asking for. They have produced great line of surface disinfectants for the home, which includes both surface sprays and wipes. So far I have only found them at Whole Foods here in Hawaii, but they are supposed to be available at Longs, Target, and other stores as well.

I recently bought the sanitizing wipes for our home and tried them out right away. First I wiped down the kitchen counters, then the bathroom counters, the door handles, the toilet seats...quick, easy, safe sanitizing. I used to use my Clean Well spray on surfaces, but now I can just grab a wipe.

I love that these wipes are safe and effective, and convenient. I was a bit worried about using them on my black granite counter tops. With careful examination, I saw only a hint of a few streaks here and there. What I really like most about the wipes is the mild, fresh scent. Unlike other brands I've tried, they are not at all overpowering. Just clean and fresh!

So, do you Clean Well?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jump On In!

Hello! Happy New Year! I bet you all thought I wasn't coming back. Well, things got very busy in my real world and I just didn't seem to have time for the land of blog. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I don't know about you, but I have had a bit of a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Traveling can be so taxing.

So, anyone make New Year's Resolutions? It may surprise you, but I don't do resolutions. I mean, sure, there are things I might like to improve. I might like to be more organized, and I definitely want to get more sleep! But I don't think change happens overnight. It's a process. So I don't make the kind of vows that start with, "From now on..." It might work for some, but for me personally, I may just be setting myself up for disappointment. And that is no way to begin a new year.

Are there changes you'd like to make? Goals you'd like to reach? If you have resolved to make positive changes in your life, you're headed in the right direction-you are moving forward. Weather you want to exercise more or make healthier food choices, better financial decisions, or increase your faith, there are opportunities for growth all around us. The question is this: Will you take them? Will you grab hold of them and make the most of it? It's up to you!

Here are just a few things to consider in the midst of it:

1. Be realistic! Don't set outrageous expectations for yourself. If you have never worked out a day in your life, don't resolve to exercise two hours a day, five days a week. Take it slow. Make long term goals that meet or exceed your expectations. Then, make short-term goals that you can focus on and achieve. Each small achievement will boost your confidence and ultimately help you go the distance.

2. Don't beat yourself up. Hey, we all get down from time to time, about one thing or another. It's okay to get disappointed, but the longer we focus on what we aren't doing "right", the more time and opportunity wasted. Keep moving. Find motivation. Seek it out!

3. Partner up! It is so much easier to achieve a goal, especially a fitness goal, when you have a buddy coming along for the ride. You keep each other motivated and accountable. And it's just more fun with a friend!

4. Write it down. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to organize your thoughts. When you keep a journal, you can keep your intentions and goals in focus, while charting your progress along the way. You can always go back and see just how far you've come.

5. Have fun! During my recent trip to the mainland, I knew that my exercise regimen would take a back seat to family events, etc. My sleeping schedule was a bit out of whack, I didn't have access to a gym, and my calendar was pretty booked. To top it off, my rugged stroller was back at home and I had my not-so-high-tech umbrella one...with the wobbly wheels.

So? I improvised. I made extra trips up and down stairs, I stretched in line at the airport, while waiting to board the plane. And I acted like a kid...When I tried to get a little cardio in on a stroller walk with my daughter, my attempt to run proved to be nearly impossible with that stroller. I suddenly had the idea to do something I hadn't done in years (well, outside my home anyway). SKIP!!! Yes, skip. The gardeners looked at me sideways, but I was having too much fun to care. Let me tell you, skipping is quite the buns and thigh workout!

Are you ready for change? Are you up for the challenge? It's a new year. Opportunities await. Seize them. And have fun! Try something new. Sign up for a Pilates class. Take up kickboxing. Do something you haven't done in years. Run barefoot on the beach, jump rope with your kids, or skip through your neighborhood. Go ahead, I dare you!