Easy DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’ve been trying to perfect making lattes at home, partially because they’re so expensive at coffee shops, but also because I can add whatever I want to make them healthier (coconut oil, anyone?). I save my daily latte for an afternoon treat, and usually make it when Jeff is napping. Last year I ventured into making pumpkin spice lattes at home and have whittled it down to this process. It’s not exactly like Starbucks, but without any sugar added (I use maple syrup instead) it’s a pretty decent healthy version—and it even has real pumpkin in it (unlike Starbucks!). Let me know if you have any substitutes or suggestions, I’m still working to perfect this recipe.

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Fear in Pregnancy

The interesting thing is that I've been trying to be positive,  remain hopeful, and overall be thankful this pregnancy. I relish in each symptom, every kick and can't wait to meet the baby growing within me. But try as I may,  fear has taken root in my heart. I thought I had outsmarted it with my thankfulness and faith, but this morning I woke with anxiety so strong, I wasn't sure how to differentiate my dream from reality.  

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I'm Pregnant! June 2018

Really, I can't believe it. 10 months after miscarrying it had become normal to me not to be pregnant. Every passing month wasn't necessarily easy, but it was what life had brought my way and I adapted. Two weeks ago, on a drive up North to close on our condo, I realized I had a still small voice in my head, telling me I couldn't do it. I couldn't get pregnant, and I wouldn't. It was on that drive that I decided to stop that thought, to rebuttal back with "I can and I will!". It was hard to change my mentality, after so many months of accepting that I wasn't pregnant and wasn't holding my baby, it was difficult to even think those little words, but I tried. And maybe it was all for a reason, because maybe my body was already in process of being pregnant.

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DIY: How To Take Passport Pictures at Home

I've always gone to a drug store to get my passport pictures done, "professionally". I was worried that I wouldn't be able to have the right size, spacing or focus to be accepted by the Department of State's Guidelines and that would set me back in the process. But looking over their website I realized that they never specified it had to be a $14.99 photo from Walgreen's, but rather the specifications were mostly regarding size, having a white background and not smiling. 

So, in order to make the process easier (and cheaper!) on myself and my son, I decided to try to do it at home. I quickly grabbed my son one morning, put a fleece on him and zipped it up (he was still in his pajamas lol) and told him that we were going to take a picture so he could go on an airplane. Since he is a toddler boy and obsessed with all moving vehicles, that was enough incentive for my normally camera shy kid. I sat him on a stool adjacent to our kitchen oven and snapped a few shots: 

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DIY: 4 Ingredient Kitchen Cleaner

Making my own cleaning products always appealed to me, but I got the final push the day I saw my toddler son actually lick the countertop on our kitchen island. All I could think about was what he might get in his system as my husband had recently purchased a Clorox cleaner, and I had used it! I tend to buy cleaner products such as 7th generation and method,  but having vinegar and oils on hand already it seemed like the easier and more cost effective option. I buy big bottles of vinegar for under  $2.50 at Aldi, which is far less expensive than natural cleaning sprays, and with far less ingredients. 

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Easy DIY PooPourri!

I'm not a fan of synthetically scented things, perfumes, candles and sprays like febreeze often give me headaches. So when I tried Poo Pourri I was not only impressed with it's natural ingredients but also it's efficacy in our sole bathroom. When I realized I already owned the esential oils in the original citrus scent Poo Pourri, I simply purchased small glass spray bottles and can refill on demand at a fraction of the cost!

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To Teach or Not To Teach

As much as I enjoyed learning, I loathed the schedule. The very schedule I thought would be perfect for a mom, working part time on alternate days. It was hard to keep up with the schedule, I taught in the afternoons, arriving at school around noon. Some weeks it was Monday, Wednesday & Friday and others it was Tuesday & Thursday. I never caught on.  Was I a stay at home mom? Or was I a working mom? Basically I was both and I felt like I couldn't keep up with either job description. Projects, grocery shopping and general housekeeping fell to the wayside as I squeezed in as many mom-like activities with my son on my days off. Other days I rushed out the door frazzled, trying to squeeze in grading, prepping, photocopying and meetings. 

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Aldi Grocery List: What I Buy & How to Save

The wonderful thing about Aldi is it's price point on organic goods. I've been shopping at Aldi for about a year, and avoid going to the "regular" grocery store as often as I can, for fear of spending more on the same items I could buy at Aldi. People have asked me what it is exactly that I buy there, and how much cheaper is it, really? Throughout my time of shopping at Aldi, I discovered that I typically spend about $20-30 less per visit than at other grocery stores, all while buying many of the same items I would typically buy at any other store. In fact, I find that I am more apt to buy all organic at Aldi, whereas at another store I might skimp because of cost.

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5 Things to Know About Aldi

The reason Aldi is so much cheaper and concise is that they don't use brands for food. The foods they offer may very well be from a certain brand, but they are labeled with Aldi brands, similar to Trader Joe's (they are, by the way, owned by the same company as Trader Joe's).  So, for example, you can buy Kind brand granola bars at Target for $3.09, but you can buy the same granola bar branded as an Elevation bar for $2.99. Or Organic Milk for example, a half gallon can be up to $5.49 at my local grocery store, whereas at Aldi, it comes at a price of $2.95. It makes eating organic affordable. 

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How to Create a Perfect Bouquet!

This past weekend I went with my sister and my sister in law to Boston for a fun handmade bouquet class. It was a beautiful spring day here in New England (finally!) and the florist we worked with was so helpful, I can't help but share some of her tips for keeping bouquets beautiful!

We started by going over the flowers we would use to make our bouquets. Included were: 

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Fun Toddler Activities in The San Francisco Bay Area

During my time in the Bay Area I never knew about this gem. I discovered this hack via instagram and found it to be true during my last visit. You don't have to pay for entry into the de Young Museum, rather, you can walk past the admissions desk to the tower and ride the elevator to the observation deck for free. It offers 360 views of the city and the bay, it is stunning!

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Easy Turmeric Tea Recipe

I am a yes (wo)man, especially when it comes to health kicks so of course I opted to try a cup of her tumeric tea when she offered it. I was expecting it to be bitter and strange, as I've only really consumed tumeric in curries, but it was surprisingly sweet and delicious. I felt great afterwards and found myself wanting to refill my mug. During my stay at her house we drank it daily, and since returning home two weeks ago, I haven't stopped yet. I find myself in the routine of making this every morning when I first get up. I like the routine, but mostly I like the way I feel starting each day off on a health kick.

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Pregnant With Grief

As I slowly approach what would have been my due date, it still feels like I've been through an entire pregnancy. Turns out, I've been pregnant the entire time, only just with grief. It's almost as if I thought the pain would go away, but instead it grew with me every month that passed during the time I was supposed to be pregnant. What would have been a life is just the shadow of sadness over mine. 

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What To Expect When You Miscarry

Within the span of 48 hours I discovered I was likely to experience a miscarriage and made it to the other side. I became a statistic. I became the 1 in 4 women who experiences pregnancy loss. It was strange to experience this loss because I pride myself in healthy living, and come from a long and fertile line of women. This miscarriage has been an emotional whirlwind, the following months were a complete blur and only now do I feel some clarity regarding the situation. 

In an effort to better equip other women who may either experience a miscarriage or know someone who does, I decided to document what it was like to miscarry, because it was surprisingly traumatic and painful. I even took a few pics, because it was all so overwhelming, and mostly because I had never seen anything like it.

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The Best Natural Beauty Finds on Amazon

Ever since I turned 30 I've started to notice a few signs of aging: mostly the wrinkles around my eyes when I laugh (which is a lot).  In a perfect world I'd never show signs of aging, or I'd whisk away the possibility with a quick dose of botox. But in an effort to live healthier and happier, I've really worked to switch out my beauty products for more organic options, unfortunately Botox doesn't fall into that category. As a young mother, I want my beauty to routine to be simple, effortless and effective all at once, that's not too much to ask, is it?!   I've been researching and trying all sorts of products this past year, but here are the 5 I keep coming back to:

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My Miscarriage Story

It was draining, it was painful, and it was emotionally insane. The strangest part for me was how long it went on. It felt like forever. I was actively bleeding for about 3 hours straight, so much so that I had to remain in the bathroom over the toilet--I really felt like I was going to go crazy in there. You don't really want anyone with you, but you also feel so alone. You literally watch your hopes and dreams go down the drain, and it is beyond upsetting. What's worse is that it seems to be just the beginning of the grieving process, which for me, has taken months to recover from. 

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The Benefits of Using a Menstrual Cup and How to Choose One

The one thing I didn't consider that has become my biggest reason for using menstrual cups over pads & tampons is the sheer convenience. Seriously, they're so simple. I pop it in the morning when I expect my period and can leave it in ALL DAY. Yup, up to 12 hours. Of course there are days where you might have to change it more frequently than that, but even the fact that it is an option is remarkable, and without a warning for Toxic Shock Syndrome, too. This means no extra trips to the bathroom during your work day, no having to leave class for fear of leaking, and no having to ask around for tampons (or worse yet, have to buy one from the nasty machine in a public restroom, God willing it's not out of order).  When I travel, I just throw it in a small cloth bag and put it in my toiletries. It's such a simple and easy way to deal with that time of the month, I really can't imagine doing anything else at this point. 

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How To Help Families After the Napa Fires

The recent fires in Northern California have really hit home for me. Having just moved away from the San Francisco Bay Area this time last year, I have so many great memories and friends there. Notably, look at little Jeffy visiting his first Sonoma Vineyard at a mere 6 weeks old:

 
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Interestingly enough, he wasn't the only baby there. That's one of my favorite parts of the California lifestyle, people are so overtly kind and laid back--parents can easily go out to a brewery or winery and bring their baby. Now that's the way to live!

Having so many memories in Napa and Sonoma it is devastating to read the news and see the spread of the fires. Knowing the location of the fires and actually checking with friends to make sure their friends and family were safe was an eerie feeling. When disasters happen it can be hard to feel the impact of it, we are quick to feel sorry for what has happened, but often just as quick to go back to our everyday lives. This one felt so real for me, perhaps more upsetting to me than hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico, even though their devastation may have been worse (it was).

It's upsetting enough to think so many people lost their homes, but it's worse to consider 23 people lost their lives. A friend of mine recounted that one of the strangest things about visiting Napa after the fires was to see entire neighborhoods burnt down, with only washing machines and dryers remaining as evidence of the homes that were once there. 

 For more pictures of the aftermath of the fires click  h   ere

For more pictures of the aftermath of the fires click here

This was a neighboring place for me, a place I went when friends were in town visiting, a place people escape to for Honeymoons and Anniversaries, a place where families live. During my time in the Bay Area I was part of a mother's club and sought both information and friendship through this club as I began my journey of motherhood. The Petaluma Mother's Club taught me so many things about motherhood, I loved their holistic and crunchy take on motherhood. They are collecting donations of gift cards to distribute to displaced families through the end of 2017. This is one way to give to local families, even from afar! 

The Petaluma Mother's Club is accepting donations of gift cards to help with local families who have been evacuated or affected in some way from the recent fires. Click here to access more information on their website or send gift cards electronically to service@petalumamothersclub.org 

Please consider helping these families as they regroup after a difficult time. 

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Reflecting on Las Vegas: How Can We Instill Kindess In Our Children

When I first heard the news about the Las Vegas shooting I initially tried to ignore it. It seems as though something awful and impactful occurs regularly now, and it's really starting to become overwhelming emotionally. It's as if I thought that maybe if I just pretended I didn't know about it, maybe it wouldn't have happened. But upon returning home from work, I sat down to read the news. I felt so sad for the families affected, sorry for our culture that hate and violence have continued to occur, and afraid for the world our children are growing up in. I have so many questions on my mind: Who has this much hate in their heart? Why is anyone allowed to own that many guns? Why are these bump stock devices legal and allowed on rifles anyway?  What kind of world are we bringing our children into? and will it ever get better? 

What's happened in Las Vegas doesn't seem like it could be real life. To hurt more than 500 people and murder 58 all in the span of 15 minutes seems inconceivable and so very terrifying. There are so many things that concern me regarding this shooting, amongst the many others we've had in the U.S in recent years, but the biggest question that I think needs addressing is why do these events continue to occur? It's not all about the guns (don't worry I know the guns are a big part of the problem, I'm just saying something else is off producing people who stockpile guns and ammo and pull the trigger.)

 
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So what can we do to make the World a better place? We can continue to love our children, teach them how to be respectful humans who value the life of other people and show that same love and kindness towards others. When I was a child there was a song in Sunday School that always confused me. It was titled "JOY" and stood for "Jesus, Others, You". As a child I thought it was strange to put many people ahead of myself, it was almost as if my childlike mind couldn't understand the concept. But as an adult I can see the value in that lesson, that although we are naturally inclined to be selfish and think about our own desires, it is important to consider others to create a more peaceful and loving world. 

It doesn't happen on it's own and it doesn't happen at school. Raising a respectful human being begins at home. How do we show our children a love so great that they are able to go out into the world and share it? It takes selfless and dedicated parents to raise respectful children and foster an attitude of caring and helpfulness. It stems out of considering others before ourselves. We have to put aside some of our own selfish ideals in order to consider our children first. Maybe we want to watch a movie or go on our phone when we could be reading stories to our children. Maybe we'd rather eat dinner in front of the television instead of sitting at the table and communicating with our kids. But we need to lay down our selfish ambitions along with our phone from time to time and just be with our children. Watch them play, listen to their mumblings. It takes a great amount of patience, consideration and above all, time. But listen to your children, treat them with dignity and respect, and demonstrate what it is to be kind. 

Children copy what they see, and develop in how they are treated. We don't need to offer them the world, rather we should show them how to function properly and successfully in the world. Kindness and respect are far more important of a gift to our children than the newest scooter or coolest toy. How we treat others and how we work to develop care and consideration in our family culture has a lot to do with creating a better and happier culture. If we consider kindness, maybe we will be able to reach those who are hurting, and help to make these tragic events fewer and further between. And maybe I'm just a dreamer thinking this could help, but it's worth a shot and I'm willing to try. 

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