Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ringing in the New Year with MotoX

Motorola's new MotoX lets you customize your new phone from top to bottom, front to back, sides and insides!  As a nature lover, I was drawn to the wood-grain.  You can even add custom lazer engraving on the back: add your name, your favorite team or your one word intention for 2015.  My word is Inspire.
How would you customize a phone to fit your personal style?  My son was all over the football texture:
I think my favorite feature is the Best Shot feature which takes several photos before and after you snap the picture and identifies your optimal shot.  It even knows if you’ve taken several pictures at a party or on vacation, and will organize them into a highlight reel with options for music and special effects.  It also lets you do more using only your voice, working with favorite apps like Facebook, Twitter, Google Play Music and Pandora.

My daughter selected a teal back with silver sides, white front and coordinating case:
She inscribed her phone with "Adventure Outside".  Her dad just sent her a Motorola phone with a note saying, "Remember the world of Adventure lives outside a phone a computer."  I think it's a good reminder that our smartphones can help us prepare and get us to places, but it's up to us to put the phone/screen away and get out and live.

The new Moto X is everything you want in a premium smartphone without the premium price. It is available for $99 with a two-year contract and $499 without a contract. Add $25 for the wood or leather backs.

What adventures await you in 2015?  How will you ring in the New Year??  Head over to the Moto Maker site and create your own customized phone and check out the other features the MotoX offers.  Ring in this year with style!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Building Memories wih LEGO® & LEGO® Minifigure Holiday Cards

Are you ready?  The family is arriving and you can feel the excitement in the air with all of the kids running around Grandma's house.  The little balls of wound up energy usually scurry straight to the basement to get busy continuing the LEGO land they've left off at Thanksgiving.
These LEGOs have been passed down from one generation to the next.  My aunt brought over a huge tub of LEGOs passed down from my cousins, now in their 30s.
LEGOs truly are the gift that keeps on giving.  My brothers all got LEGOs for Christmas when they were kids and I love the Friends sets they came out with several years ago.  When my sister and I were younger, we'd spend full days building Barbie villages out of LEGOs.  The Lego figures fit the same scale as the village- no more towering Barbies in LEGO villages!
The kids spend hours down here building, making modifications and using their imaginations.  The best part to me is that as they build, they are also building lasting memories of spending time with their cousins.  It's so easy for the kids to each disappear on an electronic device and barely have contact sitting right next to each other.
As they are busy playing, the adults are freed up for last minute holiday preparations.
I like to keep an extra kid gift on hand in case I forgot about someone.  Although we don't buy gifts for each person in our family, you never know when a BFF might show up with a gift or an unexpected birthday invitation shows up in your kids' backpack.  Kids love 'em, grown ups get tired of stepping on them...I know.  
The only thing I didn't get done this holiday was the family Christmas card.  We had gorgeous family photos taken in a wintery aspen grove - perfect for a holiday card.  Sometimes, you just have to give yourself permission to let a few things go.  Not all is lost.  If you skipped the holiday card like I did, you can create your very own LEGO Minifigure Holiday Card!
As a family-owned company, LEGO Systems is in the business of helping families "build" memories. The LEGO Minifigure Holiday card is yet another way the whole family can come together, create and share. Choose your scene and your own characters/family members with outfits, expressions, hats, hairdos, wardrobe and more tocreate a one-of-a-kind LEGO Minifigures Family Photo.  Honestly, I think the ski goggles on my LEGO doppelganger add such a local touch.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cashew Chai

This is my favorite warm Ayurveda breakfast:  stewed fruit with spices and warm chai.  I prefer a dairy-free, soy-free option to mix with my chai and have been using almond milk in place of skim milk for quite some time now.  The stewed fruit is apple, pear, pineapple, cinnamon, ginger & cloves simmered until soft.  The warmth of the fruit and warming spices is very satisfying for breakfast.  I've discovered a new creamy dairy-free, soy-free option...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nature Box Snacks

I was just sitting down with my brother and sister-in-law and we were discussing afternoon snacking.  My brother and I made the same homemade snack mix and we both commented that it leaves us with a heavy feeling.  There must be something better.  I started telling him about NatureBox and the snacks I selected to review.  The list of snacks was extensive from granolas, dried fruits, and crunchy snacks.
When you join NatureBox, you'll receive five different snacks every month. You can choose the snacks you want or be surprised with their carefully curated selections.  Check out their snack catalog!  I chose Siracha Rice Crackers, Caramel Pretzel Pops, Sweet Potato Sticks, Guacamole Bites and Chocolate Quinoa Granola:
Next time, I'll for sure order multiple packages of the Siracha Rice Crackers and the Chocolate Quinoa Granola.  The granola had a nice sea salt flavor to go with the chocolate and completely satisified all afternoon chocolate cravings.  Got a dietary goal or taste preference? NatureBox has 100+ snacks to excite and delight every palate.
My kids espeically liked the Salted Caramel Pretzel Pops and Siracha Rice Crackers.

Click here to start your free trial with NatureBox!*  The free trial box contains one full-sized bag and four single-served pouches.

*Fine Crumbs: Free trial is available for new and US subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers”

Follow NatureBox on TwitterNatureBox on FacebookNatureBox on Instagram.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, November 14, 2014

PTA/Life Lock #ShareAwesome Contest - How's your online decision making?

We played out an interesting experiment one weekend to see how many times over the course of a weekend, we'd typically pick up a device for an answer to a question:  the weather, a product, a movie time, a recipe.  I think we were each surprised at the frequency.  That doesn't even count any connection to social media or games. It is part of our daily lives and our kids don't know a world before these devises.  My kids had their first cell phone at age 2 (for parenting reasons, so they have an even bigger head start than most kids).

Online saftey is a key issue for me.  I don't reveal my location, employment, house numbers or any number of identifying information about myself.  My personal Facebook privacy settings are pretty tight and I rarely use location services.  I watermark over my kids' faces on photos I use for my blog Facebook fan page or any other public social media site.  On the other hand, I like sharing and connecting with friends and family online.  I like seeing photos of their lives and sharing photos of ours and it can be exchanged in a safe way.

As my tween son has started texting with friends, my rule is "If you wouldn't send it to Grandma or Papa, don't send it."  That includes use of language, photos, links, and friendly banter.  Same goes for his app games like Clash of Clans with the chatting feature.  Real and/or full names are not to be used and all of his emails are forwarded to my account.  We've had conversations about nothing ever "disappears" from the Internet.  Once you put it out there, it's out there and there can be some serious consequences to safety, reputation and character.  I've held firm that social media is restricted until age 13.
I don't understand this game, but a crew of friends play and chat.  The chats "disappear" after 100 messages and kids build up 100 messages in a matter of minutes.
The National PTA has joined with LifeLock to bring online safety to your awareness and into your families.  The #ShareAwesome campaign seeks to build an understanding among parents and students that no matter the device, the app or the networking site – the skills we need to be safe and positive online are similar to what you need offline.

I think the key thing is to check in on devise activity.  Every now and then I have to reel it in and question some decisions and/or discussions.  It's a good place to keep open and frequent conversation.

  • The #ShareAwesome contest invites social media users to share a smart and safe decision, uplifting accomplishment, or positive action for the good of others using hashtag #ShareAwesome on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Students who enter a photo between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will be eligible to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship! Visit to learn more.

  • I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Cocozia Coconut Water Review

     A couple of my new favorite liquids:  Liquido yoga pants and Cocozia coconut water.  This is my tame pattern of Liquido pants.  They have some pretty outrageously fun print fabrics.  The fabric feels great and the pants wear great.
    My go-to drink is now Cocozia Coconut Water.  Epicurex sent me a case to sample via Amazon and now I'm hooked.  I want more!! As the packaging reads, it's 100% organic.  So far it is my favorite coconut water.  Bonus, I'd rather get electrolytes from a natural source than from a sugary sports drink.   It's the perfect drink to re-hydrate throughout the day, but I especially like to drink it after yoga.
    That was an epic slack line spanning the width of the park.  You can find other Cocozia flavors like chocolate, coffee, mango and pineapple.  I definitely want to try the chocolate and pineapple flavors.  You can go to the website to see if Cocozia is distributed near you or purchase online through Amazon.  The 16.9oz case ships free!

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Heisman Sports Safety

    Baseball is often referred to as “America’s favorite past time,” but many believe that football is
    America’s game. The Super Bowl is the biggest sports event of the year, and college football
    constantly dominates headlines in the fall. However, since football is such a demanding and
    physical sport, injuries can be common and sometimes serious enough to lead to a trip to the
    emergency room.

    How do you protect your kids from injury and accidents with all of their sports and activities?  We've had a few minor crashes and hits over the years.  I am relentless when it comes to helmet safety, but I don't confine my kids with safety over their natural exploration tendencies.
    When it came to football sign ups this year, my son opted not to play.  He has taken a few really big hits and weighed his own risks.  He said he didn't want to take a big hit to the head.  I completely respect his decision.  To help your children learn how to keep things as safe as possible on the football field, follow these tips:

    1) Football = lots of gear!
    Some equipment may look “optional,” but it is important to wear all necessary pads and safety
    gear each time you play. If you show up for a practice or game without it, alert your coach

    2) Follow the rules
    While physical prowess is central to football, you must obey the rules. In the heat of the moment
    it’s easy to forget, but there is a reason why things like tripping, clipping, blocking below the
    knees and helmet-to-helmet contact are illegal in football: they can be very dangerous to both
    you and your opponents.
    3) Listen to your body
    If at any point you feel pain or discomfort while playing, notify your coach and get out of the
    game. While sitting on the sidelines is one of the most difficult situations a player can face,
    pushing through injuries increases the severity and keeps you out of action longer.

    4) Take the doctor’s orders
    After experiencing a sports injury, the first question a player often asks is, "When can I play
    again?" The answer depends on the injury. Always listen to your doctor. Even if you can't return
    right away, a doctor or physical therapist might have suggestions and advice on what you can
    do to stay fit and rehab the injury. It is important to always check with a doctor before attempting
    any activity following an injury.
    5) Make sure you’re covered
    Accidents happen. When unexpected injuries happen on the football field, make sure you’re
    prepared with supplemental insurance to help cover out-of-pocket expenses. According to
    the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, 66 percent of U.S. workers could not afford the costs
    associated with a serious illness or injury. That’s why voluntary insurance plans are so
    important. In the event of a serious injury, they help provide peace of mind and cash benefits to

    help you get back in the game fast.
    Is your mountain biking concussion covered?!
    Who doesn't love the Aflac duck?  Are you the ultimate college football fan? If so, this #AflacSweeps is for you! Three lucky fans will win a trip for two, a pair of tickets to one of three college football games in November, a chance to meet Desmond Howard and more. Enter once per 24 hours on Facebook; for bonus entries, share on Twitter.  Enter today and then spread the word to let your friends know it’s #GameOn!

    Each prize package includes:
    • Two tickets to the biggest college football game of the weekend.
    • Meet & greet with Desmond Howard.
    • Round trip airfare.
    • Hotel accommodations.
    • Ground transportation to and from events.
    • $500 prepaid debit card for food and other expenses.

    CONSUMER NOTICE: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Open to legal permanent residents of 50 U.S. states and DC, 21 or older, who have Internet access and valid email address prior to 08/28/14. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds and prize descriptions, click here: This sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook or Twitter. For a winner's list (after 11/10/14), visit the Ultimate College Football Experience tab of this page or mail request to Aflac "Ultimate College Football Experience" (Specify Winner List), Media Relations, 1932 Wynnton Road, Columbus, GA 31999. Sponsor: American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.

    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

    Monday, October 13, 2014

    Restyling for Fall

    With Halloween approaching, we thought we'd restyle the bookcase at the landing of the stairs. This bookcase from Sauder is the perfect piece of furniture for easy accessory swapping. I still love the bookcase as much as I did the day I put it together. Here was the spring/summer look:

    The cubicles swapped out with Halloween decor:

    To easily transition the bookcase after Halloween, we'll keep the more neutral pumpkins and swap picture frames with fall photos. The bookcase is in the Barrister line. Right now I'm also really liking the the Cannery Bridge storage wall.

    I added a second piece of furniture from Sauder from the Edge Water collection:

    This is a tricky little corner in my living room created by the unusual shape of my sectional. I used to have a small leather folding seat placed in the corner to hold a blanket for the couch, but I relocated that piece when I moved some other furniture around and needed it as a desk seat. The shape of the space makes it tricky for a standard sized end table, but then I found this smaller end table from Sauder.

    Flat-box furniture can feel intimidating to some people, but I find it to be rather, "yeah, I built it". Here all of the pieces dumped out from the well-packaged shipping box:

    Everything comes out a little dusty, so I like to vacuum it all off before assembly. After vacuuming, I lay out all of the pieces in an orderly fashion and get busy.

    Elmer's glue scares me a little when it comes to building furniture, but its use in this table is pretty inconsequential- just a little more security, not for any stability. Here I am more than half-way through the assembly:

    Sides go up, top goes on, feet attached. Done in less than 25 minutes...all by myself!

    We rarely sit on this side of the couch, but with the lamp there now and table to set a glass of water, this is a new reading spot.

    Because of the table size, it is versatile to use in other areas of the house. It's even the perfect size to play up the depth at the front door:

    To see more ways to use these versatile furniture pieces and other accessory ideas, visit my Home Pinterest Board.

    This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder. The opinions and text are all mine.

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Frostys for Families!

    Did you know that there are more than 100,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption?  Foster adoption is something I have thought about for the future- what bigger gift of ourselves could we possibly give than to open our hearts, homes and family to a very deserving child?

    I have two cousins who have opened their hearts, homes and family to adoption and I'd love to share their stories:
    "Four and a half years ago [husband] and I were a mini family having been married for 8 years and enjoying the PNW—engorged with our work and spending time with our dogs and sampling the phenomenal restaurants in our little city. We laid our plans to perfectly time building our family around my residency research fellowship (aka the “procreative pause” of surgical training). Months became years and pregnancy had other plans. We followed our hearts and with the support of some amazing friends and family—we started the process for infant domestic adoption.
    Four and a half years ago our daughter was born to an amazing woman who chose us to parent her child. No words can describe the adoration and respect we have for our daughter’s birthmother. Seven months later- [daughter] became a big sister when her brother was born to us.
    People ask us—“Did you plan it like that?!” We laugh and think to ourselves--- in our wildest dreams we never could have imagined being so blessed."
    My other cousin shared with a friend just starting the adoption process: "I am in awe… More than words can express… Of the whole adoption process. It's like this amazing, very elite club that few people get to experience, because it takes very strong women, strong couples, and strong families to enter into the joy, trust & love." 

    The three of us messaged back and forth last night and I truly feel honored to get to share a small part of the their experience with you. I picked up this gem from Tara: "I can say to the child who was adopted: You are wanted. You are loved. I chose you. Out of all the children in the world, I chose you."
    "Worthy is the word that stands out most to me. I want all children to know how worthy they are. And for parents and birth parents to know the same. You are worthy of creating, carrying and birthing this child. You matter. Your role matters. Your child matters.
    You are worthy of raising this child. You matter. Your commitment matters.
    And you, precious child. You matter most. You are worthy of all things. You are worthy of being cherished. You are worthy of not just knowing, but feeling that you are loved. You are worthy of blessing others with your talents and gifts.
    We are all worthy--every parent, regardless of circumstance, and every child, regardless of circumstance. Sometimes we lose sight of that, and we need to be reminded."
    She also shared her letter from the judge finalizing her adoption: "Dear Mr. and Mrs. D:
    It was my privilege and honor to preside over the adoption of your daughter. Adoptions are without question the most remarkable of all judicial proceedings as they highlight the generosity of spirit of the adopting families. New families are formed with legal bonds to cement the familial bond between adoptive parents and child, bonds that have been developed and nurtured long before the parties step into the courtroom.
    Every child in our society deserves to grow up in a family that is loving, supportive and attending to a child's needs. All children deserve to have a sense of belonging, and adoptive parents deserve recognition for making the lifelong commitment of providing a loving and supportive home for these children. By adopting [daughter], you serve as an inspiration to those of us who work in the court system. You make us grateful for the small role that we play in creating and fostering your relationship."
    Here are both girls, arm-in-arm, placed in the arms of loving supportive nurturing families:
    In 1990, Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s®, accepted President George H.W. Bush’s invitation to be the spokesperson for a national adoption awareness campaign. Just two years later, Dave established The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® as a non-profit public charity with one primary goal: to help every child in foster care find a loving, permanent family. Thanks to Wendy’s® consumers and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®, 4,000+ children have found adoptive families.

    How can you help support adoption?  It's as easy as pulling up to a Wendy's Drive Thru.  Purchase a Wendy’s® Halloween Coupon Book for $1 at participating Wendy’s to support foster care adoption.
    That's right.  Share a Frosty with your family, pick up a few Halloween Coupon Books to hand out for Halloween and help make another family become whole!  Heck, go ahead and order handful of the Halloween Coupon Books.
    Speaking of handful...I like my Frosty topped with a handful of M&Ms.
      Visit your local Wendy’s® to purchase a Jr. Frosty™ Halloween Coupon Book* for $1, which benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®!
      *Coupon book may contain coupons for 5 or 10 free Jr. Frosty™ treats. Prices and participation may vary. Ninety cents to every $1 coupon booklet sold between 9/15/14 and 10/31/14 will benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®. Coupons valid from 11/1/14 through 2/1/15. ©2014 Oldemark LLC
    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.