Recent Posts

Chore Chart Simplified

Have you ever tried what seems like a million different ways to get something done? Well, that’s been me… I am great at getting my kiddos involved in sharing household responsibilities, but I don’t always follow up to make sure that they’ve done what I asked them to do. Don’t get me wrong, my children are GREAT helpers, but I don’t always remember what I’ve asked them to do and I tend to be a sucker for routine.

I think a daily routine is important. It allows me time to get up early and do what I need to do minus interruptions, and my children know exactly what is expected of them. I’ve tried to keep us all on track using lists in a binder, writing things on a notepad on the refrigerator, putting post it notes on their walls where they do their school work, but it just wasn’t working and I was feeling defeated. After much frustration and lots of searching the web, I FINALLY found something on Pinterest (my favorite DIY website) that I could make and personalize.

These chalkboard clipboards are AMAZING and fun to use! I made them in about two hours this past weekend – super quick! Let me tell you, my children were SUPER excited to have a chalkboard chore chart! They couldn’t wait for the boards to be ready, and this morning I heard them arguing about who was going to be done with their chores first, without me even having to utter one word! Mission accomplished!

Here’s what you will need to make these chore charts:
👉 Wooden clipboard
👉 Black chalk paint – spray paint or paint in a can is fine
👉 Paint brush
👉 White chalk marker
👉 Plain pegs
👉 Permanent marker

1. Paint your clipboard with the first coat of paint. Wait 20 minutes and give it a second coat.

2. While your paint is drying, label your plain pegs (you can purchase a pack of pegs at the Dollar Tree) with whatever tasks you’d like your children to complete. I made two sets – my children are different ages, so I labeled them according to what they could and could not do.

3. When your board is dry, using your white chalk marker, make the Daily and Weekly To Do lists. Add the pegs to the areas which you’d like done daily and weekly.

How the chart works:

Clip the pegs to the left side of the board (To Do). When the chores are complete, move the pegs to the right side of the board (Done). This allows you to see what has been done and what still needs to be taken care of. Your children will have a blast moving the pegs.

That’s it! Simple to make and do!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on chores and charts! What have you tried? What works or does not work for you? How do you get your kiddos involved in helping you in your home?

Morning Baskets & Homeschool

As many of you know, I am a homeschooling Mommy of two. I’ve had a set routine for years, but this year, I am trying something new and different, it’s called a Morning Basket. I was inspired to give it a try, after watching a YouTube video by Pam Barnhill. Pam is the author of an amazing book called “Better Together”, which is all about her morning routine. Look her up, I guarantee you will be inspired!

So what is this Morning Basket you may ask?

A morning basket is a combination of books, activities, crafts, games, or reading materials that allow you to begin your day with something exciting, before getting into your actual school day. Of course, everyone has different thoughts and ideas as to what should be included, so it’s truly up to you as to what you’d like to include.

Today, our morning basket is all about creativity and fun! Because it’s “Back to School” week for us, I wanted to make the day extra special for my kiddos.

Here’s what I put in my basket:

👉 Props for photos (we need some “first day of” pictures of course!)
👉 A new board game
👉 Bible time
👉 Math puzzles
👉 Creative writing
👉 Poetry tea time
👉 Outdoor play

We had a blast with our basket this morning and so far we’re on schedule as far as the new routine goes. Our “Morning High Five” was a success, and though it was challenging getting everyone out of bed earlier than usual, we are on track!

How did your kiddos first day of school go? What fun things are you doing with your children this week or did you do today? I’d love to hear from you!

It’s Hail! It’s Snow! Or is it?

On Monday, February 26th, 2018, my children and I were sitting at the kitchen table doing school work. Our lights flickered a few times, we had a brief power failure and when I looked out the sliding door, it was pouring rain. There were extremely dark clouds just above our home and then suddenly, the rain turned to hail. The hail was coming down fast and furious, and began to cover our patio, the swings on our play structure and the outdoor table and chairs. A thin layer of white ice started to form across the patio and I thought to myself “This can’t be snow!”, but it wasn’t like anything we’d experienced in Sacramento before. I immediately called my husband who works about 30 minutes away and asked if they were experiencing the same thing? Nothing… No storm, no rain, just clouds. So odd! How can weather be so different in two parts of town just 30 minutes apart?

I decided to log on to Facebook to see if anyone else had posted about this odd weather. It was then that I saw video footage of what looked like snow in our neighborhood and knew I wasn’t seeing things! This was so strange, this couldn’t possibly be Sacramento – this looked like Tahoe. Sacramento doesn’t ever have snow storms and we’re hardly prepared for severe hail and icy conditions.

Several people in our neighborhood showed video footage of this ‘snow’ which they said was about 4 inches deep, and then I saw photos of a shopping center close by to our home.

I turned on the news… The weather man stated that this was not in fact hail or snow. What Sacramento was experiencing was called graupel. What is graupel you may ask?

Here’s what I found on Google: “Graupel (German pronunciation: [ˈɡʁaʊpəl]; English: /ˈɡraʊpəl/), also called soft hail or snow pellets, is precipitation that forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes, forming 2–5 mm (0.08–0.20 in) balls of rime.”

The following day I took a drive to the shopping center about 7 minutes away from my home. I honestly felt like I was in a different town. There was snow covering the grass outside the bank, and the shopping center still had thick graupel all around the parking area. My kiddos were so excited by this graupel, so I decided to stay and let them play for a while. About 20 minutes later, their hands were so cold that they needed to warm up again and we headed home.

It was a great start to our week and the perfect Science lesson for our homeschool studies.

Sam Michelle Designs

If you’re like me and enjoy shopping for unique, affordable, costume jewelry, then you have to check out one of my new favorites – Sam Michelle Designs. Sam Michelle Designs is an online etsy store, but you can find her on Facebook and instagram as well.

I absolutely LOVE these black leather earrings by Sam Michelle Designs. They’re lightweight, look great with something casual or dressy, and they’re affordable. Sam Michelle Designs has a wide variety of styles and designs too. You can even personalize your earrings! How cool is that?

They arrived in a super cute envelope, beautifully wrapped and presented. GREAT gift for a friend, sibling, aunt or niece. 

Thank you Sam Michelle Designs for these gorgeous earrings!

Please visit her website at or check her out on Instagram @sammichelledesigns

Use my DISCOUNT CODE ZBQ15OFF for a 15% discount on your purchase.

 

*Earrings sponsored by Sam Michelle Designs. All opinions expressed are my own.

My Thoughts on ‘The Wheat Belly’ Book

I found “The Wheat Belly” book at Barnes & Noble about 2 weeks ago and haven’t been able to put it down since. I have heard so many positive reviews on this book from a number of people who have celiac, crohn’s, IBS, and a number of other chronic illnesses to do with inflammation of the gut, that I had to read it myself.

This book is an eye opener and life changer, truly. As a fitness pro, I know a little about health and nutrition, but I didn’t realize just how horrible wheat is for the body. We constantly hear that whole grains are good, and to eat wheat for good digestion… Um… No and never again, no thank you! I have been struggling for years with gut issues, but thought that wheat was ‘healthy’ and so it became one of the staples in my diet, so long as it was always about 45 calories per slice (bread). Not anymore – my diet has drastically changed.

For the past 2 weeks, I have avoided eating anything with wheat in it, although I did have a couple slices of thin crust pizza about a week ago at a family outing, and regretted it immediately afterwards… The stomach pain was unbearable and I ended up taking something natural to settle my tummy.

After being extra careful with what I put in my mouth and checking every label, I am happy to report that I am down 1 dress size as of today. The bloat is disappearing and I know it’s going to be a long journey, but it’s one that I am very excited about. Reading this book has brought about a lifestyle change and is helping me with other gastrointestinal issues that have been bothering me for years.

*Wheat Alternatives to Watch Out For: Flour, bulgur, semolina, spelt, frumento, durum/duram, kamut, graham, einkorn, farina, couscous, seitan, matzoh, matzah, matzo, and cake flour. These are often marketed as being a wheat alternative, but none are gluten-free.

Here’s a great video from Dr William Davis
The Wheat Belly Guide to Grain Free Baking

Here’s a snippet from an interview with Dr William Davis on why wheat is harmful in it’s current form.

“I learned just how bad wheat was when I asked patients in my cardiac practice to remove it from their diet. I did this because 80% of people I’d meet for the first time were diabetic or pre-diabetic, situations that double or triple heart disease risk. In an effort to minimize this situation, I applied a very simple fact: Two slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of sugar, higher than a Snickers bar. (Most people are unaware that the glycemic index of whole wheat bread is among the highest of all foods.)

I asked everyone to remove wheat to observe the blood sugar effects. People would come back after a 3-6 months and, indeed, their blood sugars and HbA1c (a measure of prior 60 days blood sugar) would be much lower, even to the point at which some diabetics were no longer diabetic. But people told me plenty more: They lost 30 pounds, lost 4 inches from their waist, felt better than they had in 20 years with more energy, less moodiness and deeper sleep. They told me how they experienced complete relief from acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, hand and finger arthritis and joint pain, sinus congestion and chronic sinus infections. They told me about how their asthma improved so much that they threw away three inhalers, their rheumatoid arthritis was so much better they were in the process of reducing medication, their ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s had improved so much that no medication was required any longer, their leg edema had disappeared and rashes were gone.

At first, I dismissed it as pure coincidence. But the effects became so frequent and consistent that the conclusion became unavoidable: Wheat was the underlying cause for an incredible array of health problems and weight gain, and that eliminating was key to astounding health.

And note that this was not gluten avoidance for the gluten-sensitive; this was wheat avoidance for everybody, as it was a rare person who didn’t experience at least some measurable improvement in health, if not outright transformation. I now recommend complete wheat avoidance for all my patients, as well as anyone else interested in regaining control over health and weight.

Wheat is a weak opiate. Eat wheat, you want more wheat, you want more carbohydrates. The gliadin of wheat is converted to exorphins, morphine-like compounds that can be blocked with opiate-blocking drugs.

Even worse, we’re advised by our own government agencies like the USDA and Health and Human Services that whole grains are good for us and we should eat more. Eat more “healthy whole grains,” we eat more, we gain weight, we acquire all the health consequences of wheat and weight gain such as hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, acid reflux, and diabetes. Big Food makes out, Big Pharma makes out; we all pay the price.

The epidemic of diabetes and obesity has been blamed on us. We’re told that Americans are overweight and diabetic because we are gluttons and we’re lazy. I don’t buy it. I believe the majority of Americans are fairly health-conscious and try to get at least some exercise. I do not believe we are that different from, say, the people of 1950 or 1960. I think we’ve been duped into blaming ourselves, when all along a big part of the blame should be placed on this corrupt product of genetics research, propagated by agribusiness, and put to profitable use.”

 

 

What is Your Valentine’s Love Language?

Valentines Day is just around the corner, and while gifts are nice, do they speak to your partner’s love language?

My hubby and I did a course called “The Five Love Languages”. We learned that what makes one person feel loved will not necessarily make another person feel the same way. We all express love toward others in the way we want to receive love. When our partner doesn’t respond positively to our expression of love, we get annoyed, disappointed, and frustrated. The problem is not how sincere we are; the problem is that we are not speaking our partner’s love language.

Do you know what your significant other’s love language is? You can take the Love Language Test here.

Here’s a brief overview on the five love languages through my eyes.

Words of Affirmation
These are things we all need to hear. Compliment your partner on the way they look, a character trait, or something they’ve done for you. Use words like “I truly appreciate you doing xyz for me” or “You know, I really love xyz about you” or “You look lovely/handsome today”. Your compliments need to be unsolicited.

Receiving Gifts
There is nothing more generous than receiving a little something that says, “I was thinking about you.” You don’t need to be extravagant with your gift, let it be simple but thoughtful. Think about what your partner always looks at while shopping, or talks about, or enjoys as a hobby.

Acts of Service
We all enjoy it when our partner pulls alongside us to help out with a chore or project. Things like helping with dishes, taking the trash out, cooking, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, changing diapers, wiping snotty noses and bathing little ones, are all acts of service. We’ve heard for decades that “Actions speak louder than words” and guess what? They truly do, when you’re with someone who lists acts of service as their primary love language.

Quality Time
Give your spouse undivided attention – don’t make them feel second best. Giving undivided attention is not watching a tv show or movie together. It means doing things together that require you both to look at one another while talking. Go for a walk and talk, go out to dinner and put that phone away – look your partner in the eye and have a conversation without interruption. Hearing your partner say “We don’t ever spend time together” is your partner telling you that you don’t give them enough undivided attention. It’s not about just living together and residing in the same home, it’s all about focusing on one another and conversing minus the distractions of the world.

Physical Touch
Physical touch has many meanings, but in the Five Love Languages course, it’s all about holding hands, kissing, embracing, being intimate, putting an arm around a shoulder or cuddling while watching a movie or tv show.

Each and every one of us has a primary love language – one that speaks most to us emotionally. It’s almost like a spoken language, a language we relied on more than any other, a language we understand the best. The same can be said of our love language. The problem that arises in most relationships, is that naturally, we speak our own love language vs our partner’s love language. We tend to assume that what makes us feel loved is what makes our partner feel loved, and this is incorrect. In the course “The Five Love Languages”, we learned that in order to be effective in keeping your partner’s emotional love alive, you have to know and learn to speak the love language of your partner.

What are some gifts that speak to your love language? I’d love to hear, so please comment below.

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Her

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to holidays and gift giving, I always seem to struggle to find that ‘perfect gift’. Well, Christmas is gone and Valentine’s Day is creeping up quickly… I’ve been scratching my head, thinking about what I could possibly give my spouse or even ask for. If your husband or partner is like mine, they like a list on Amazon or somewhere easily accessible, to help them with ideas.

I decided to shop local in Sacramento, CA and gathered a few gift ideas for my readers, to make things just a little easier for you. I think you’ll appreciate some of the products below. No, this gift guide isn’t filled with hearts and roses, but there’s definitely something for everyone on your list.

Keep scrolling for 10 ways to spoil the love of your life this Valentine’s Day!

1. Jason Keyser of JK’s Rustic Woodwork, has a Rustic Heart Valentines Day event coming up in February. See the event details here.

2. Cassidy’s Crazy Cans in Sacramento offers some unusual handmade glass trays that can be seen here. She has a sale on Saturday Feb 10th from 11am-3pm.

3. Check out these beautiful handmade trays from Devine Gifts. You can find her on Facebook at Devine Gifts.

4. I love these super cute earrings from Twee Her jewelry is affordable and unique. Keri makes colorful, nature inspired jewelry that helps quirky girls show off their inner whimsy. 

5. I am super excited about Jens Custom work. She makes custom name rings, necklaces, bracelets and keychains out of strips of metal. Check out her page here

6. In need of some custom made Valentine cookies? Tausha has an in home custom cookie business. She makes cookies baked to order and can create custom cookie cutters and stencils. Find her on Facebook here

7. How about an adorable custom rose bouquet with a combo of real and dollar roses. Check out Congratulei

8. I love the steampunk look here from Penz Jewelz

9. Candles Soy Delicious offers custom poured candles. Make dinner by candlelight extra special with a custom candle.

10. Looking for something decorative perhaps? Check out Joy Bushey on Pinterest Do you have any cute ideas to add to this list? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

 

From the Heart Friday

On my heart today…

Sometimes we get so caught up with giving to and focusing on others that we neglect our own families. Not just the family we live with, but our siblings and our parents as well. I’m not saying that it’s not good to give or to help others, but I think it’s more important to take care of those in our family first before extending ourselves to others. Sometimes we focus so much on being ‘needed’ by others and neglect the real need for love and attention at home or within our extended families.

Our children are little for a moment…  They grow, change and move on so quickly. We get so busy with being busy… How can we love and nurture our children when we’re so focused on giving our time away to everyone else but them? I hear parents complaining about not having time – time to nap, time for ‘girls night out’, time for themselves… Here’s the thing – you chose to become a parent. When you become a parent, life changes and your precious gems rely on you. Nobody said it would be easy, yes it requires endless hours of giving of yourself to your little ones, but guess what? You chose this lifestyle, and it’s amazingly rewarding if you take time to invest and enjoy your little ones. It’s an absolute blessing to be a parent, you are raising a little life, a life that is our future generation. Love them with everything inside of you, despite how exhausted you may be!

When you nurture your relationship with your children, your children will be close to you forever.  If you didn’t have that growing up, make the conscious decision to be the parent you may not have had. My precious mother and I have a priceless relationship, and I treasure her more than anything. She sacrificed her time and her career so that my siblings and I would turn out to be decent human beings. It is the reason why I am the Mom and wife I am today, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

It saddens me to see so many families falling apart. If every family took time to nurture and build relationships with siblings, parents, in-laws, etc. despite whatever differences there might be, I believe wholeheartedly, that the world would be a better place. Relationship building begins at home… If you’re a happy family, you will share that happiness and kindness with others, for whatever is within us, usually spills out and is shared with others, wherever we go in whatever we do. When people are unhappy or insecure, it carries over into their daily lives, their jobs and their relationships with others. They are never happy or satisfied, and end up looking for attention, negative or positive, outside of the home instead of working on improving themselves and the relationships they have, with those closest to them.

I think it’s important for us to take time to stop and evaluate. Evaluate your life, your relationships, your reasons for doing what you’re doing.  How often do you call your parents or siblings to tell them you love them or miss them? They may be near or far – it doesn’t matter, they’re your family, they need to be reminded that you still think of them.

How often do you tell your spouse or your children that you love them or you’re proud of them? Not for achievements, but for being the beautiful soul they are. Are you raising your children to be kind and compassionate or are you too busy being busy to spend time with them?

How often do you turn off the phone to be present in the moment with your spouse or little ones? I see so many families going out to dinner, with each person sitting around a table staring at their phones. It’s heartbreaking! How are we raising families that care when clearly the focus is the phone, not relationship building?

We are living in a world where people are so caught up with social media and a false sense of friendship based on the number of ‘friends’ they have on Facebook. GET OFF FACEBOOK and visit your family and friends. It seems like, gone are the days when friends and family would drop in for a cup of coffee or tea, Sunday afternoons would be spent baking and playing board games, weekends would be for visiting.

This world is chaotic… Everybody wants something, but very few are willing to give of themselves selflessly. Don’t forget your family, they need you as much as everyone else if not more – you are flesh and blood. The reward of spending time with your family is far greater than that of social media likes, trophies, medals, recognition from strangers, or your name on a certificate. Those things are all frivolous… In the end, when we leave this world, we leave it all to rot and ruin… What you sow, you reap, it’s a biblical principal.

Life is short, so love unconditionally, forgive quickly, show kindness not just to outsiders or those who love you for what you give them, but to your family too. Call your parents, love your siblings, spend time with those nearest to your heart. Hold your family close, for tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

Granola Breakfast Cups

I am always looking for ideas for healthy meals and snacks for my family. Today I decided to experiment with these breakfast cups after a conversation with a fellow fitness professional. Theirs had a lot less ingredients, and I like to ‘spice’ mine up a little, so here’s my version of granola breakfast cups.

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Ingredients (Makes 12 Servings)
2 1/2 Cups regular old fashioned oats
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbs unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tbs raw cacao nibs (I like to use the Spectrum brand mix which combines cacao, coconut and chia seeds)
1/4 Cup organic honey
2 Tbs peanut or almond butter
2 Tbs organic coconut oil
1 Organic ripe banana mashed
1 Tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine the oats, cinnamon, salt, unsweetened shredded coconut, and raw cacao nibs in a bowl.

3. Place the peanut/almond butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until the mixture is bubbling. Remove the mixture from the microwave.

4. Add the mashed banana, vanilla extract and coconut oil to the peanut butter/honey mixture. Mix well.

5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon until the oats are evenly coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

6. Spray or grease a 12 cup muffin pan OR place 12 paper cupcake holders in a muffin pan. Remove the mix from the refrigerator and evenly divide the mixture into the muffin cups.

7. Press the oats into each cup so that it forms a shell. Make sure it’s even all the way around the sides, as these cups will crumble if not evenly spread.

8. Once you’ve spread the mixture evenly, place it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it as they will start to burn after 15 minutes. Cook until golden brown.

9. Remove from the oven and place each cup on a cooling rack. If you used paper cups, gently peel the paper wrapper off each cup.

10. Store the breakfast cups in an airtight container or serve once cool, with plain or flavored Greek yogurt, topped with berries or toppings of your choice. You can fill these with some of your favorite smoothie leftovers or simply serve with fresh fruit.

My kiddos absolutely LOVE these and they make a great healthy breakfast or snack!

 

Zesty Green Smoothie

Today was a really fun but busy day. I woke up early to get my kiddos ready for a field trip which wasn’t local, made them breakfast and got out the door as fast as I could, in order to avoid the CRAZY traffic that heads down the I80 to San Francisco… I dislike traffic and I cannot stand being late!

This morning I didn’t have time for coffee or my regular protein packed breakfast, so by lunch time, I had a pounding headache… I had stopped to grab a coffee across the street from where we were meant to be, but once I parked and got out of my car, the coffee somehow ended up all over me before I could get a sip, and unfortunately, the caffeine wasn’t absorbed by my skin… Ha ha…

We got home around 3:30pm and I needed something that would energize me. That’s when I decided to experiment and make myself a green smoothie with ginger. I needed something with a little zest!

Here’s what I put in my Ninja (YES! It was absolutely DELISH!!!)

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Ingredients (Makes 3 8oz Servings)
1 Cup organic rainbow chard
1 Small piece of fresh organic ginger
1 Cup organic pineapple juice
1/2 Fresh organic lemon
1 Organic pear
1 Cup ice

*I did not peel my lemon as I’ve read online about lemon peel being a cancer fighter but you can peel it if you prefer.

DIRECTIONS:
Wash your chard and pat dry. Place all of your ingredients in a blender and blend well. My Ninja is pre-set for smoothies, so use your judgement. You can add more ice if you prefer – I felt like 1 cup of ice was sufficient.

Organic chard, lemon, ginger and pears
Organic pineapple juice
Place ingredients in your blender and blend well
Delicious smoothie!

My kiddos LOVED this smoothie and it’s great for the digestive tract!