Monday, November 4, 2013

Your Personal Security Guard and Few Trillion of his Closest Friends

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Tom Hines, co-founder of, on Twitter. He offered to write a guest post for my blog and it could not be a more fitting time! My mom was recently admitted to the hospital after one of several intestinal bacterial infections. Taking care of your body is very important, as is listening to the warning signs it gives off. Read on for an excellent article written by Tom on why good bacteria is good for us and what you can do to prevent bacterial infections that can sometimes be deadly!

A few weeks ago, a friend and I loaded up some supplies into a trailer and made our way to the security checkpoint at a large local home improvement store. As we pulled up, he looked toward the guy manning the checkpoint and said, “that’s the most important person working here. That guy decides what gets in and what leaves.”

Whether we’re talking kids or adults, it’s hard to overstate the importance of a healthy gut. Much like our underappreciated security guard, the gut is responsible for the majority of what makes it into our bodies, and just as importantly… what doesn’t. In addition, about 70% of our immune function comes from the gut, certain vitamins are produced there, and battles with invading forces are waged there (viruses, bad bacteria, bad yeast, toxins). Unlike our security guard, the gut can’t do it all alone; it relies on help from trillions of it’s closest friends… probiotics.

You might not be aware of this but you are only really about 10% human. Your body is made up of about 10 trillion cells, but you are home to about 100 trillion bacteria. Lucky for you, the vast majority of them are good and live in your gut.  

What does good bacteria do for us?

  • Use resources and space that bad bacteria and yeast would claim in their absence
  • Produces vitamin K, folic acid, vitamin B-12, and biotin (aka vitamin H)
  • Breakdown and carry away toxins
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Assist in nutrient absorption
  • Ferment dietary fiber into short chain fatty acids

It’s important to be aware of all this for one simple reason; today more than ever, we have an enormous amount of influence over the health and wellbeing of our teeny tiny little family.  Government and corporations pour a seemingly endless supply of money and resources into the messages “this is safe”, “this is good for you”, “this is better”.  It’s hard to blame anyone, especially kids, for buying into this constant barrage of Good, Safe, Normal, Better, Healthy.  It’s confusing as heck, and the truth in this case, we’re outgunned.

What can you do?

  • Limit antibiotic usage -  If you have a doctor that prescribes an antibiotic every time you stub your toe, then find a new doctor.
  • Eat less refined sugars - Sugar is food for yeast. A large percentage of Americans have a yeast overgrowth.  The yeast causes several problems of it’s own and crowds out good bacteria.
  • Eat more fiber - Fiber will keep things moving, carry away toxins, and supply food to probiotics.
  • Eliminate or cut back on gluten - Even if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten can increase the permeability of the gut and cause damage.
  • Cut back on the chemicals - Processed foods, food additives, pesticides, and herbicides can all harm those little guys.
  • Take probiotics - There is a constant war going on and this is like sending in more troops.  Find a few GREAT products and rotate them throughout the year to get a variety.  Here are three that I like: Florajen 3 by American Lifeline, Dr Ohhira’s by Essential Formulas, and Ultimate Flora by ReNew Life.
  • Eat more fermented and cultured foods - Yogurt is great, but there’s so much more.  The old practice of fermenting foods like sauerkraut and other vegetables is coming back strong due largely to their probiotic benefits.  Here’s a great video on how to make your own.
  • Pay attention to your gut - If you have frequent constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, pain or other gut issues, then start asking “why?”.  Your body is trying to tell you something and I’m telling you that it’s not normal… I don’t care how many friends and family you know with the same issues.  Misery may love company, but it doesn’t make it right.

Take care of your gut and your little friends, and they will take care of you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Another Amazing Need Brands Product Giveaway for the Stretchy Deep Moisturizing Cream

Last week we did a giveaway for Milky!, an incredible breastfeeding supplement by Need Brands brought to you by Tia and Tamera Mowry.  Congratulations to Krystal Cano of Indiana on winning the 6 day supply of Milky!  Enjoy and please let us know if you love it as much as other mommas do!

This week we have the pleasure of doing another giveaway for another amazing Need Brands product!  We will be giving away 2 bottles of their Stretchy Deep Moisturizing Cream.  This cream is one of a kind and it is not just for moms that want to prevent or minimize stretch marks.  It is an all natural, organic moisturizer that the entire family can use and benefit from.

If you do have stretch marks, Stretchy works to reduce inflammation in the skin by hydrating, moisturizing it and encouraging collagen production to help rebuild connective tissue.  After a few weeks of use, you should be able to see a noticeable difference on any stretch marks that you may have had.  If you are pregnant and want to prevent getting any stretch marks, Stretchy can help do that by maintaining your skin constantly moisturized to prevent scaring and stretching. 

Like I said before, though, Stretchy is for everyone.  It is an all natural cream that smells amazing and is made of all natural ingredients.  Stretchy is created from a blend of argan oil, cocoa butter, aloe vera, tamanu oil, argan oil, cupuacu butter, horsetail, lady's mantle and vitamins K1 and E.  It is also recommended by dermatologists.  Many moms love that it is vegan and none of the Need Brand products are tested on animals.  

So, if you'd love to try Stretchy and win one of two bottles that will be given away, follow the steps below to enter.  The more you enter, the more likely you are to win.  You have 5 ways to enter and can enter daily by commenting on the blog and tweeting about the giveaway too! Good luck and stay tuned to see if you're the lucky winner!

Rules to Enter the Giveaway
Ways to enter are:
1) Like us on Facebook at
2) Follow us on Twitter at
3) Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter
4) Comment on this blog post below

5) Join The Parent Center and Follow Us by clicking the "Join this site" Google link

The will be 1 winner selected at random and 1 winner selected who has the most points earned during the giveaway.  Earn one point per entry and you can enter 5 times the first day alone.  Then you can enter twice each day after that by tweeting about the giveaway and adding a creative comment below.  Tell us why you want to win, what creams you have tried, why you love Tia & Tamera.....anything you can think of related to the giveaway, Need Brands, Tia & Tamera or creams in general!

Contest begins tonight at midnight (October 4, 2013 at 12 am) and ends October 9, 2013 at 12 am.  Get started and win yourself a tube of the best moisturizing treatment around.

If you would like to order Stretchy in advance, enter NICK10  at checkout to receive 10% off your entire order of 2 tubes or more. 

I was not paid/compensated in any way to test/review this product. I was simply given a tube to try and I'm addicted!

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Get Your Children Ahead Before They Even Start Kinder!

As the proud mother of an amazing 4 year old, I want nothing more than to watch my daughter succeed in life.  That is one of the reasons I decided to start working with her on learning her shapes, colors, numbers, letters and more as early as 2 years old.  By the time she was 3, she was already writing her name, reading sight words and doing basic math.  Now at 4, she's already reading at 1st grade level, adding, subtracting, telling time and TONS more.  And she's not even in kindergarten yet.

There has long been an argument between mom friends of mine whether you should or should not work with your child in order to help him or her get a head before they start kinder.  Some moms say not to do it because the child will then be bored when they start school.  I do not believe this at all.  As a former teacher, I loved when my students came into class prepared and already had the foundation for what they were going to learn.  I saw that they had more confidence when it came to school work and learning new things that they were not already exposed to.  If you have kids at home, it would benefit them to spend at least 15-30 minutes per day working on educational topics that they will see in the upcoming school year.  This will not only prepare them, it will give them extra confidence and a step ahead so the school year is not so challenging.  Standards are getting increasingly more difficult so it would benefit us to help them.

Now, as a former teacher, it is not difficult for me to find resources to teach my daughter. For some moms, though, it can be tough to decide what resources to use and where to get them.  I got a lot of my books at the dollar stores (the 99 Cent Store & the Dollar Tree).  I also purchased some of the curriculum books at Costco.  I got large books there that included every topic (letters, numbers, sentences, reading comprehension, math, etc) for less than $10.  Costco also has 20 book sets of BOB books which are EXCELLENT for teaching reading. Those were key in helping my daughter learn her sight words and begin reading independently.

For other educational tools to teach your kids, click on the "Education" tab at  There you will find reviews on other educational products and websites you can use to teach your kids at home ;)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cupcake Crayons Made Out of Crayon Scraps

 If you have young children, you surely have your fair share of broken crayon pieces around the house.  Instead of throwing them away, recycle them and make fun cupcake crayons they can reuse.  Not only are these fun for them to use, they can be made in any color combination you want.  They are also the ideal shape for smaller tots that have a difficult time grasping a standard crayon.  If you don't happen to have broken crayon pieces, I'm sure your children's teachers at school, church or day care have some you can use for this craft.  Promise your kids will love it!  Follow the steps below:

What You Will Need
--Broken crayon pieces
--Mini cupcake tin
--Mini cupcake liners

1) First you'll have to remove the paper off each of the crayon pieces. This is definitely the most labor intensive part of this project.  My daughter (4 years old) was at it for almost an hour with me.  She was so excited to make her cupcake crayons, though, that she didn't care! LOL 
2) After peeling them all, we broke the larger pieces into smaller pieces that would better fit into each mini cupcake tin.  

3) After breaking down all of the crayons, we put 2 liners in each of the cupcake tin spots.  If you only put one, the crayons will leak through and it will be difficult to clean and reuse for actual baking next time. You can also use the foil liners.  They are thicker and the crayons don't bleed through them like they do the thin paper ones.

4) After you've lined the tin, turn the oven on to 200 degrees.  It won't take long to heat to such a low temperature so I usually wait until this step to even turn it on.

5) Once the oven is on,  add the crayons to the cupcake tin in any combination you'd like.  You can make some solid color crayons and you can mix colors as well.  We kept color families together but made some cool combinations as well (orange + yellow, red + purple, blue & green, red + orange, multi-color).
6) After the tin is full and/or you're out of crayon pieces, place the muffin pan in the oven and "cook" for about 10-15 minutes.  Watch them carefully so they do not overheat or burn.  The smell is not great but it will be worse if they burn.  They will also stick more to the pan.

7) When you remove them, make sure to do it carefully and slowly.  The crayons will be a thin, watery liquid consistency and can spill easily.  Let them cool for about 30 minutes and remove them from the tin.  
8) After they have completely cooled, remove the cupcake paper/foil wrappers and they're ready to be used! 
My daughter absolutely loves them and doesn't even want to use her regular crayons anymore.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Milky! Giveaway: Win a Chance to Try the Organic Way to Increase & Improve Breastmilk Supply

As the mom of a beautiful 4 year old girl and expecting #2 in January, I am always on the lookout for new products.  I love discovering new products that I can use and that other moms will love as well.  Recently I discovered Need Brands.  Need Brands was created by Tia and Tamera Mowry, the famous twins that many of us thirty something moms grew up watching on t.v.!  As they started their own families, they had similar concerns to most moms.  Breastfeeding and producing plenty of milk to feed their little ones was a big one!  They decided to create a tasty, effective product that could increase milk production, be healthy for mom and baby and be affordable too!  From this idea, they came up withMilky!

Milky is a natural, organic lactation herbal tea supplement.  It promotes lactation without having to go through the trouble of brewing hot teas throughout the day and it was designed by a pediatrician to help boost the quality and quantity of breast milk. Some of the main ingredients are fenugreek, fennel, ginger, chamomile and rooibos.  Unlike teas you have to prepare at home, you can take Milky! with you in the convenient bottles they are packaged in and drink them on the go.  They will make for a healthier lifestyle for you and nourish your baby too! One of my favorite aspects of Milky! and all of the Need Brands products is that they are all vegan and are not tested on animals.  They are also all eco-friendly and they are scientifically proven to work.

So, do you want a chance to win your own box of Milky!?  It includes a 6 day supply and it is valued at $29.99 plus $5 flat rate shipping.  Below are the rules to enter and a 10% discount code for all to use as well!

Rules to Enter the Giveaway:
The winner will be selected at random and given points per entry.  Ways to enter are:
1) Like us on Facebook at
2) Follow us on Twitter at
3) Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter
4) Comment on this blog post below

Contest begins September 25, 2013 at 12 am and ends September 29, 2013 at 12 am.  Get started and win yourself a box of the best breastfeeding supplement around.

If you would like to order a supply of Milky! in advance, enter NICK10  at checkout to receive 10% off your entire order of 2 boxes or more.

I was not paid/compensated in any way to test/review this product.

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

So You Want A Mermaid Tail?

So a few weeks ago we were swimming at our HOA pool and a little girl walks in with a mermaid tail. My daughter immediately fell in love with it so I proceeded to ask the little girl's mom where she got it.  She said she got it online, so I saved the website on my phone and promised my own little mermaid that we would look them up when we got home.

As soon as we got home, she reminded me of what we needed to do. When I looked it up, I couldn't believe that the cheapest one was upwards of $50 plus shipping.  I couldn't understand why it was so much, outside of the demand from so many little girls seeing them and wanting them. After all, it was made out of a shiny stretchy fabric and slipped on like a simple straight length tube skirt that flared at the bottom for the tail. So.....after thinking about it, I figured I'd save some money and try making my own. After all,  I had a sewing machine and it couldn't be THAT hard.

I bought the fabric (about $12 bbecause it was on sale & I had a coupon!) and decided to buy a rubber floor mat at Walmart to use for the tail. The website the little girl got hers from sold some with rubber tails but those were $75 and up! Being the over achiever that I am, I decided to add this to my daughter's. I was definitely getting adventurous.  Then, while looking for tips online,  I saw the same type of mermaid tail but it was a full dress with a tank style top. Of course,  I saw this and figured I could pull this off too.  After all,  the dress version was even MORE expensive and we're on a tight budget as it is now since we are currently on only one income.

So we got home, I pulled out my sewing machine and laid out the fabric. I measured my daughter's width around her chest and decided to do the dress the same width all the way down.  I took one of her tank tops and cut out the straps up top for the tank top portion (about double the width of what I wanted the straps to be since I'd have to sew them under).

I started to sew the side seams and that went well.  Then I went onto the tank portion and that was a little more difficult, but not bad.  After completing the main part of the dresss, Ihad my daughter try it on and we decided to put a slit on the back, slightly below the knees to make it easier for her to walk. That worked out well and we moved onto the fins.....

I cut two pieces of fabric into triangles and sewed them on 2 sides.  Then I cut pieces of the rubber mat in the same size,  placed it inside the fabric triangle (fin) and sewed the fin onto the side of the dress. I did the same thing for the other side and to my surprise,  it turned out pretty well. I thought I was done when I saw another piece of fabric on the floor and then decided to make a pleated little ruffle for the front.  Once completed,  we tried it on and I had one very happy little mermaid!

So, after completing the "mermaid tail for the pool" we decided it is way too nice and fancy of a mermaid dress for the pool, so we'll be making the swim skirt with fin with the remaining material.  And not as fancy or elaborate of course.

So moms, if you have a mermaid wanting her own tail and/or mermaid dress,  go for it and try making it yourself.  If I can do it, anyone can!  Up until now, all I'd ever sewn were a few burp cloths and those came out less than perfect, and that's being generous.

If you're interested in having me make one for you, contact me via email at I really enjoyed making it, although it was difficult and took about 4-5 hours, but the happiness in my little mermaid's face was absolutely PRICELESS! I will post pictures of the swim tail when I make that as well too ;-).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Socks on a Swiffer?

As a mother and wife, I make it my priority to make sure my family is taken care of and my home is clean.  The clean part seems to be the most challenging of all, however, because it seems like there is always something to clean!  The floors, mirrors, shutters,'s exhausting and I find myself constantly trying to come up with ways to do it easier, faster and better.  Today, as I was about to clean my floors, I went to grab the usual rag or towel to put around my Swiffer. I've found that the Swiffer pounds are too thin and ineffective.  They push around the dust on the floor but don't pick it up as well.  Beneath the towels I was going to grab were tons and tons of pairs of my husband's old, stretched out socks. I use those to clean the shutters and put Armor-All on the car tires as well.  That's when an idea was sparked.  Why not use the socks on the Swiffer and clean with that?  Those are thicker, absorb more and can be washed so I can use them again and again! This will not only save me time, it will also save me money on the costly Swiffer cleaning pad replacements.

I put the sock on the Swiffer and cut one of the ends a little so it would fit all the way across the cleaning pad.  I then tied the end that I cut and the sock fit securely on the cleaning pad.  I used an ankle sock but a tube sock may be best since it's larger and can be doubled it.  Let me tell you, it worked amazingly well and held up as I cleaned my entire 2600 sq ft house with hardwood and tile floors.  This is one idea that I thought of, put to use and am happy I did!