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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Laser Hair Removal: A Holiday Gift Idea + New Year's Resolution in One!

Over the past few weeks, we have been featuring our favorite holiday gift ideas, but there is one gift idea that I want to dedicate an entire post to -- laser hair removal. This gift stands out because it erased one of my biggest insecurities and added convenience to my life.  It's not only a fabulous holiday gift idea, but it may also support a New Year's resolution if you set the goal to attend regular appointments to eliminate some of your unwanted hair.  Personally, I set a goal to pursue laser hair removal at spa810 Dallas earlier this year and am now able to reflect on the positive experience. 

Let me start by sharing a flashback to the moment that I decided to set a New Year's Resolution to pursue laser hair removal. I was pregnant and had an appointment with my doctor. My pregnancy made it difficult to shave my legs and so I came up with a solution - I wore knee socks to cover my lower legs. I felt slightly embarrassed, but it was such a struggle to shave my legs at the time. I remember wondering if my doctor thought that I was crazy for continuously wearing knee socks to my exams.  I am sure that many of her patients find themselves in this predicament, especially when they are toward the end of their pregnancies.  I am sure that none of us fool her with our knee socks, but she is sympathetic to our exhaustion and insecurities.  Still, I vowed back then that I would have laser hair removal once I was done with pregnancy and breastfeeding so that I would never find myself obsessing over an insecurity that is so easy to fix. 

I am proud to report that I followed through on my goal to lessen unwanted body hair after my son was born and I finished breastfeeding. Earlier this year, I began my laser hair removal journey for my legs, Brazilian area, and a few stray hairs on my torso at spa810 Dallas. My experience has been fantastic. Now that it is December, I am almost done with my treatments and love the results. The sessions have not only removed the bulk of hair that bothered me, but they also erased insecurity that I have carried with me for decades. After several laser hair removal sessions with serious results, I realized how freeing it was to shed the paranoia that I used to experience on days that I didn't have time to shave or when I realized that I missed shaving a spot. Letting go of those worries has been amazing.

Let me be realistic by telling you that this is not an overnight process. As someone with fair skin and dark/course hair, I noticed a big difference after my first appointment and continually noticed differences throughout the course of my treatments.  By the 6th treatment, I achieved dramatic results and had an ah-ha moment  where I realized that the process truly removed an insecurity that I had carried for many years. I decided to visit an indoor waterpark with my family on the spur of the moment.  I realized that I didn't need to shave. Typically, I would shave in the shower, dry off, and then obsessively double check whether I missed any stray hairs.  I would often nick my skin or experience razor burn.  It was nice to reflect on how my New Year's resolution changed my life in terms of both convenience and confidence.

As I mentioned, I want to be realistic about my goal and experience. I still have some body hair, but it is sparse and thin. It's hardly noticeable. I have two more laser hair removal sessions left and look forward to finishing the series of treatments.   Laser hair removal has been a gift in terms of my confidence.  It feels good that I set a goal and am almost done achieving it. I highly recommend pursuing laser hair removal as a New Year's resolution. Of course, a series of laser hair removal treatments is also a fabulous holiday gift. 

If you would like to experience laser hair removal, be sure to do your research to select a reputable business that comes highly recommended. Personally, I spent hours reading about laser hair removal and reading reviews about different spas.  In the end, I chose spa810 Dallas and have been thrilled. I really like the customer-centric culture of their spa. The visits have gone by quickly with serious results. I look forward to my visits because I know that I am making progress toward my goals.  

Finally, I like the philosophy at spa810 where they want clients to be comfortable. They know that many people are new to the laser hair removal concept, so they offer a free session on a small area for new customers.  I am not aware of any other spas in our area that have this customer-centric offer. It says a lot about their customer service.   Learn more about spa810 here.
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A 30 Day Decluttering Challenge with Calendar and How Decluttering Changed My Life

I recently took on a 30 Day Decluttering Challenge that surprisingly helped me with anxiety and helped me to feel much happier.  I didn't realize how much this decluttering challenge would boost my spirits until I was a bit over halfway through the challenge and saw major difference.  Let me start with a quick overview of the challenge:

  • What: 30 Day Decluttering Challenge
  • Time Allocation: A minimum of 15 minutes per day for the duration of the challenge
  • How: Remove items from your home that you no longer need and consider using these methods to get rid of them:
    • Gift items to friends and family (We gave a lot of items to friends with children who are younger than our children. We emailed photos of available items on a weekly basis for people to claim what they wanted!)
    • Sell items
    • Donate items
    • Recycle or track items
  • Measure your progress so that you are able to reflect on your accomplishments:
    • Cubic footage of items removed
    • Amount of money for selling items
    • Amount of time spent on tasks
    • Keep a journal of what you completed each day
Personally, the consistency was important to me. Whether it was the minimum 15 minutes/day or a super productive 8 hours/day, consistent contributions made me feel like I was moving forward. I had days where I spent the entire day decluttering a room and removed as much as 7 cubic feet worth of items. I had other days where I only did the bare minimum of 15 minutes and didn't even declutter 1 cubic foot, i.e., I went through papers and shredded things or took items that I sold on eBay to the post office.  I kept a journal because it helped my motivation to reflect on my progress.  The daily journal contained:
  • Day (1...30)
  • Description of progress
  • Measurement of the amount of items removed in cubic feet
  • Amount of money received for items that were sold
  • Cumulative cubic feet to-date
  • Cumulative money to-date
I kept a written journal, but let me share a few graphs that show my progress.  You'll notice that there isn't really a trend to the amount of decluttering or sales each day.  While I set a goal to spend a minimum of 15 minutes/day on decluttering, I informally set a goal in my head to try to reach one cubic foot of decluttering each day.  However, I wasn't strict with the one cubic foot/day goal because I didn't know how much clutter was in our house. (It became more challenging toward the end!) As I mentioned earlier, there were days when I didn't reach the goal of one cubic foot/day because it took me a while to go through papers to figure out what to shred or scan. I also had to take items to a donation center or the post office which took time.  In the end, we decluttered 58 cubic feet. (I feel embarrassed to admit this, but at least the majority of the items went to other people who could use them and very little went to the trash. Having two children that outgrew various things accounted for a large amount of the space.) 

Here is a graph of my daily progress in terms of cubic footage.

Here is a graph of my cumulative progress in terms of cubic footage.

Another measurement of my productivity was the amount of money from items that I sold.  This was not one of my primary goals because I was much happier to give things away.  I don't enjoy selling items because I find the "people aspect" of scheduling and meeting up to be a hassle. I am also not a big eBay fan because I was once scammed on eBay and they sided with the buyer.  In any case, I did sell some items and surprised myself that the money added up quickly. Sure, I lost money if you think about how much we spent on items compared to the peanuts that we sold them for, but they were sunk costs of things that we really didn't use anymore.  For instance, my baby never liked his baby swing and it was easy to sell for half of what we paid. We paid $100 and sold it for $50.  In the end, we collected a good amount of money by selling items that were taking space without being useful to us.   (Again, I feel guilty that we had that much stuff just sitting around, but am glad that the items went to people who could use them and that we received some of our investment back from the money spent on the items.)

Here is a graph of my daily progress in terms of dollars.

Here is a graph of my cumulative progress in terms of dollars.

Now that you've seen my progress, let me share my decluttering calendar.  In general, I recommend that you do whatever makes sense for your personal situation, but for me, I thought that a calendar like this would be helpful for those days when I felt like, "I don't know what to do today..."  You will be able to skim my calendar and see if there is anything that make sense for your personal situation. You will also notice that every Wednesday was an "*EMAIL DAY." Throughout my decluttering, I took photos of items that I was getting rid of and sent weekly photos to family and friends to offer for them to take anything that I was cleaning out.  This was a fun way to keep my momentum since others enjoyed being part of my decluttering mission.

After completing a 30 Day Decluttering Challenge, I feel happier and realize that the extra "stuff" was causing me anxiety and weighing me down.  In some ways, I understand how it happened. Our lives have changed in many ways over the years. When we were first married, we had more time for recreation such as riding our bicycles together or individual projects like crafts, sports, and more.  When our children were young, they needed various things that they quickly outgrew. (That baby bathtub was truly useful for the first few months! The special infant carrier was also handy.  I don't think that I could have lived without our Baby Bjorn at the time. The list is long...)   However, where we went wrong was that we did not regularly reflect on the changes in our lives and declutter at the appropriate phases of life. We allowed clutter to build for several years.  These were the downsides of not decluttering sooner:
  • The clutter cost us space. 
  • The clutter cost us time in terms of cleaning or even when we needed to search for items that were hidden behind clutter. We even moved clutter from one house to another.  
  • The clutter cost us money as we could have sold many items for more if we sold them when they weren't as old.  
  • The clutter cost us a bit in terms of anxiety as we were surrounded by "stuff" and an ongoing thought hanging over us that we needed to declutter.   
Now that the decluttering is done, our home is cleaner and life is more efficient.  The outcome was wonderful for us.  It was a lot of work, but there were some bright spots along the way:
  • We emailed or texted photos of random items to friends and family to ask if they wanted anything.  I'm sure that they thought that I was crazy at times (like, what are you doing with so many Star Wars costumes?), but they appreciated our thoughtfulness and were kind to support us with the Decluttering Challenge.  It was fun when people wanted items.
  • We dropped off donations and appreciated that the items would probably go to good use.
  • We sold items to people who were often excited and appreciated the great deals.
  • We collected several hundred dollars that we put to good use
  • We were able to reorganize our home, including everything from entire rooms to cabinets so that things looked nicer and were easier to find
Now that the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge is over, I feel proud of my accomplishments.  It was easier to let go of "things" than I imagined. I surprisingly let go over some anxiety too.  I'd like to say that we purchase fewer things after the decluttering challenge, but really, our habits were never that excessive.  We are just better about letting go of things sooner rather than later.  For instance, once my husband finishes playing a video game, he trades it in promptly rather than letting games fill a shelf. Once soccer season is over, we donate the uniform and move on.  I've also held on to the "consistency" aspect of the challenge, but instead of decluttering for a minimum of 15 minutes/day, I spend a minimum of 15 minutes/day speed cleaning. I set a timer and clean as much as possible in 15 minutes. It's a great way to direct some of my energy!

Good luck in your decluttering endeavors. I hope that you find bright spots along the way and feel a sense of accomplishment!

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Monday, January 21, 2019

(Win it!) Entenmann’s® Little Bites® Churro Muffins are the Perfect Dessert for Taco Tuesdays or On-the-go Snacks!

Entenmann’s® Little Bites® just released a new limited-edition flavor! They are the Churro Little Bites® with the muy delicioso taste of cinnamon and sugar.  In today's post, we'll tell you about this trendy new variety and why we love Churro 
Little Bites®. We'll also provide the opportunity for readers to enter for a chance to win a $25 digital Visa and three coupons for free Entenmann’s® Little Bites®!

Let me share three reasons that we love Entenmann’s® Little Bites® in the new Churro flavor.

1. Taco Tuesday has been elevated since we have tacos + Churro Little Bites®!
Throughout the state of Texas, Taco Tuesday is serious business.  Tacos could be their own food group here in Texas as they are a staple for most of our families.  I'm always grateful for taco nights because tacos make it easy to get my children to eat protein and veggies in one bite.  Taco Tuesday is more fun lately thanks to Entenmann’s® Little Bites® in the Churro flavor!  I have a taco holder for my preschooler - the front holds a taco and the back holds Entenmann’s® Little Bites® in the Churro flavor!

2. They taste amazing!
These trendy little Entenmann’s® Little Bites® taste amazing with the cinnamon and sugar flavor. The chefs definitely hit the mark when they created these churro-inspired little muffins!

3. They aren't as messy as real churros!
Not only do they taste fantastic, but the convenient mini muffin form is much cleaner than real-life churros.  Real-life churros are one of my least favorite desserts to give to my children because their little cinnamon and sugar covered fingers seem to touch clothing, furniture, and everything else! The churro mess factor holds me back from giving them churros very often. On the other hand, the Entenmann’s® Little Bites® are fantastic for my messy children! They do have some cinnamon and sugar on them, but it's a very reasonable amount such that my toddler doesn't end up covered in cinnamon and sugar. The chefs at Entenmann's created the perfect cross between churros and Little Bites®!  

In summary, you will definitely want to try the new limited edition churro flavor of Entenmann’s® Little Bites®! They are a great way to make Taco Tuesday more exciting. Plus, they are great for snacks. Each box includes 5 pouches with each pouch containing 4 little muffins.

Win it!
One winner will receive 3 coupons that are each for $5 off a box of Entenmann’s® Little Bites® and a $25 gift card! Please enter using the Rafflecopter below. The winner must have a U.S. shipping address. No P.O. boxes. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to our email with their shipping address. Otherwise, we will select a different winner. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to Entenmann’s® Little Bites®  for sponsoring this post and providing the prize for one lucky winner!
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You Will Love the New Saladworks in Southlake!

If a healthy lifestyle is at the top of your New Year's resolutions list, you will quickly fall in love with the new Saladworks in Southlake. This trendy restaurant is conveniently located on Southlake Boulevard (in the plaza with Ulta, Kohl's, etc.) and offers a crave-worthy menu that will help you to stay on track with goals to eat healthy meals.

We visited Saladworks a few times over the past couple of weeks and want to tell you about it because we are in love with the restaurant and menu items. They make it convenient to pack colorful veggies and protein into our diets and have delicious homemade salad dressings that add special touches that we haven't found elsewhere.  I felt like the chefs for this restaurant really thought about the important components of different types of salads and then upped the game by adding options such as roasted brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and more. 

They even have unique dressings. For instance, the Citrus Caesar is my favorite dressing because it offers a special twist on one of my favorite dressings!  If you crave avocado toast or a grain bowl, they also have you covered!

Let me share a few photos of example salads. The first is my husband's favorite - El Toro. This trendy salad contains a house green blend, grapes, roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, avocados, radishes, scallions, quinoa, feta, smoked pumpkins seeds, house-made chipotle ranch dressing.

Personally, I love the option to create my own salad! The salad below includes baby kale, chicken, goat cheese, sunflower seeds, roasted sweet potatoes, and roasted broccoli.  If you browse the list of ingredients, you'll find that there is a combinatorial explosion of possibilities.

The salad below was created by my son with baby kale, avocado, roasted sweet potato, avocado, shaved Parmesan, and beets.  He is a one of a kind. I think that it's awesome that Saladworks makes it easy to create unique combinations! There truly is a combinatorial explosion on the number of possible salads that are possible to create!

Finally, while I showed how beautiful, clean, and open the restaurant is, let me also share that they have a few tables tucked away in the front of the restaurant where I enjoy sitting when I visit with my toddler. If you have little ones, you may appreciate my secret sitting space. My toddler is tucked into the corner and enjoys looking out of the window while also watching customers enter the restaurant. 

I hope that you have the chance to visit a trendy Saladworks restaurant.  Click here to find a Saladworks location near you!
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Double-Headed Sweaters are Trendy for Valentine's Day 2019!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  This may be the Best Valentine's Day in history thanks to the Valentine’s Day Double-Header Sweater!  You will definitely want to order one of these trendy sweaters for your sweetheart! Let me share some Valentine's Day stats and then show you some other examples of trendy sweaters for couples.
A recent survey by online retailer Zulily has the low down on all things Valentine’s Day:
  • On February 14th, over 40% of Americans – more than 130M people – will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. That’s a whole lotta lovin’! When asked ‘what is the most offensive Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever received,’ a quarter of Americans (24%) unveiled ‘no gift at all,’ followed by ‘a breakup’ (6%)!
  • BFFS over boyfriends. If women were to celebrate ‘Galentine’s Day’ (aka hanging with your gal pals on Valentine’s Day), over a quarter of women would prefer to get pampered (26%) – who needs romance with mud wraps, massages and manis in your future?
  • If choosing to wear a Valentine’s Day-themed two-person sweater, both men and women would prefer to ‘wear it out with their pet (23%/19%), over their significant others or BFFs. Second to ‘wear[ing] it out with their pet[s],’ both men and women would prioritize ‘wear[ing] [a two-person sweater] for a pic, just for social media’ (15%/17%).

Whether your Valentine's Day plans are to go out on the town or stay in for a quiet evening, zulily has the perfect gift! Available in four unisex styles (see images below), these Valentine’s Day Double-Header Sweaters, available on zulily starting 1/21. These trendy sweaters are Instagram-worthy and will literally bring you closer to the people you love. So, grab your significant other, BFF, or even your fur baby because life’s just better when you’re in a sweater together!

We hope that you have a fun and memorable Valentine's Day!
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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Recipe: Mango Chia Seed Smoothie (3 Ingredient Recipe)

Recipe: Mango Chia Seed Smoothie

1. Cut and peel the mango.

2. Add all of the ingredients to a blender.

3. Blend for approximately 30 seconds or until smooth.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Visit Central Market for a Cooking Class with Envy Apples! #BiteAndBelieve #CookingwithEnvy

Envy apples are in the spotlight lately because people love these apples! You may wonder what is so special about an apple. Once you taste an Envy apple, you'll know part of the answer. They taste delicious. The other part of the Envy apple equation is that they have a have a naturally higher citric acid content that prevents the ‘browning’ enzyme from activating. This means they are VERY slow to brown!  They are perfect for kid’s lunches, picnics, salads, charcuterie boards and party platters, especially since they will look great for hours! In today's post, I'll tell you about how these trendy apples work their magic, tell you about an upcoming cooking class with Envy apples at Central Market, and share a crave-worthy recipe.

As a Mom and an Engineer, I was curious about how these apples taste so delicious and why they don't brown as quickly.  Fortunately, the answer comes from Mother Nature and not weird science or questionable additives. According to grower Rick Derray, the EnvyTM naturally boasts higher levels of an antioxidant (citric acid) that prevent the enzyme polyphenol oxidase from reacting with oxygen, resulting in it’s slow to brown feature. Pretty cool, right?! 
Are you intrigued by Envy apples?  If you live in Texas, you are in luck because Central Market has classes across the state on this coming Weds, January 15, 2018 where you'll learn and experience trendy recipes that use Envy apples!  The classes are at Central Markets in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio.  Visit here to find a cooking class near you. (Register soon because some of the locations are almost full.)

Now that I've share information about Envy apples and the upcoming cooking classes, let me share a recipe!

Recipe: Apple​ ​&​ ​Bacon​ ​Corn​ ​Fritters​ ​with​ ​a​ ​Habanero​ ​Honey​ ​Glaze 
Makes​ ​about​ ​10​ ​corn​ ​fritters

For​ ​the​ ​fritters:
  • 6​ ​slices​ ​bacon,​ ​cooked​ ​and​ ​rough​ ​chopped 2​ ​cups​ ​apples,​ ​small​ ​diced
  • 3⁄4​ ​cup​ ​all​ ​purpose​ ​flour
  • 1⁄2​ ​cup​ ​cornmeal
  • 2​ ​tsp​ ​baking​ ​powder
  • 2​ ​tsp​ ​kosher​ ​salt
  • 3⁄4​ ​cup​ ​whole​ ​milk
  • 1​ ​egg,​ ​whisked

For​ ​the​ ​honey​ ​glaze:
  • 1⁄4​ ​cup​ ​honey
  • 1​ ​habanero,​ ​seeds​ ​and​ ​stem​ ​removed,​ ​cut​ ​in​ ​half

Will​ ​need:
  • A​ ​slotted​ ​spoon
  • 1​ ​large​ ​container​ ​canola

How​ ​To:
  1. Heat​ ​a​ ​medium​ ​sized​ ​pot​ ​of​ ​canola​ ​oil​ ​to​ ​350​ ​degrees​ ​and​ ​heat​ ​your​ ​oven​ ​to​ ​250​ ​degrees​ ​to keep​ ​batches​ ​of​ ​fritters​ ​warm.
  2. In​ ​a​ ​small​ ​bowl,​ ​microwave​ ​honey​ ​and​ ​habanero​ ​for​ ​15​ ​seconds.​ ​​​Allow​ ​to​ ​steep​ ​while​ ​frying​ ​off fritters.
  3. Stir​ ​together​ ​all​ ​ingredients​ ​for​ ​fritters​ ​until​ ​well​ ​combined​ ​and​ ​no​ ​clumps
  4. Using​ ​a​ ​large​ ​spoon,​ ​drop​ ​a​ ​dollop​ ​of​ ​batter​ ​into​ ​the​ ​oil​ ​and​ ​allow​ ​to​ ​get​ ​dark​ ​golden​ ​brown​ ​on both​ ​sides.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​do​ ​a​ ​tester​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​the​ ​batter​ ​is​ ​cooked​ ​all​ ​of​ ​the​ ​way​ ​to​ ​the​ ​center. Remove​ ​fritter​ ​to​ ​a​ ​paper​ ​towel​ ​lined​ ​plate​ ​to​ ​drain​ ​excess​ ​oil.
  5. Repeat​ ​with​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​batter​ ​and​ ​keep​ ​first​ ​batches​ ​of​ ​fritters​ ​warm​ ​by​ ​placing​ ​on​ ​a​ ​sheet​ ​tray​ ​in​ ​the warm​ ​oven.
  6. Once​ ​all​ ​fritters​ ​fried​ ​off,​ ​drizzle​ ​with​ ​spicy​ ​honey​ ​glaze​ ​and​ ​serve​ ​immediately.
  7. Batter​ ​can​ ​be​ ​kept​ ​in​ ​refrigerator​ ​for​ ​1-2​ ​days,​ ​but​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​to​ ​stir​ ​batter​ ​well​ ​each​ ​time.
We hope that you have the opportunity to try Envy apples! We also hope that you visit Central Market for a cooking class with Envy apples. If you happen to attend the Dallas location on Weds., January 15, 2019, we will see you there! Of course, all of the locations are fabulous and will offer a memorable experience.  Learn more here.

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