Six Game Ideas For Fun Zoom Calls

Amidst this pandemic, Zoom has become a household word and something I never thought my 88 year old grandma would be savvy at. Since we aren’t able to travel to see family this year, we’ve implemented a weekly Saturday morning Zoom call with our extended family. It’s become something we all look forward to and has helped us stay more connected in each other’s lives than ever before. As the host of these calls, I’ve made it my weekly challenge to keep the calls fresh with at least one activity planned.
This helps keep the kids engaged and also creates some structure so we don’t go down the conversation trail of how much 2020 has sucked (easy to do!!). I’ve rounded up the activities we’ve done so far and hope they spark some great conversations and fun amidst your own family Zoom calls.

  1. Name That Tune

This was fun to put together. The hubs and I put together an Apple play list of songs from movies and all genre’s and generations. We then played them over the call and whoever shouted the name out first got a point. You could easily use a Spotify playlist as well. Each household was a team and we sent the winning team a surprise prize. In this case it was a tie dying kit complete with shirts to tie dye. If you need some inspiration, we used the Harry Potter theme, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, Ed Sheeran’s You Look Perfect Tonight and The Beetles Let It Be, to name just a few.

2. Bingo

This was a bit of a labor of love as I made up Bingo cards for each person and then sent them via email before the call so they could print them out. We then used this site to generate the bingo numbers to call. The winner got a prize worth $10 (fro-you gift card in this case) and a $10 donation to their charity of choice.

3. Jeopardy

This is by far the best game that we played together and worth every penny I spent on the pre-built Powerpoint Jeopardy template that you can buy here for $9.99. You do have to make your own categories, questions and answers but the template is all programed and you only have to type in the info. It worked flawlessly and was so much fun. To inspire you, some categories we made up were Star Wars, Disneyland, All About Cats, and Young Adult Fiction.

4. Virtual Baking Show

For Fourth of July, we gave everyone the challenge before the call to bake or cook something with a Fourth of July theme and share their completed product with everyone on the call. The kids got to play judges in the style of the Great British Baking Show. Would also be fun to send everyone a recipe ahead of time and share/eat the results together on the call.

5. Pictionary

Zoom has a great whiteboard option that makes it super easy to allow anyone to share their screen and then draw. People on the call get to guess. We just used whatever popped into our heads as ideas of what to draw, but you could easily keep to a theme if you wanted to.

6. Birthday Party Ideas

Over these last few months, there have been tons of Zoom birthday celebrations. We’ve dressed up, worn silly hats, used fun birthday Zoom backgrounds and created birth year quizzes using Kahoot. Kahoot is an online quiz/game platform that allows users to submit answers from their phone or the website, making it a fully interactive experience as you can see the answers they submit and rankings.

I hope that gives you some inspiration to jazz up your Zoom calls as we might still be having these for a long time! Take care.

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday. I know it might feel a bit like Groundhog Day lately, but I hope you have some fun weekend plans even if they aren’t as exciting as you would have hoped because 2020 has shaken up all the plans. We’ll be working in the yard this weekend and watching my nephew play some tennis in La Costa. He’s so good and we love cheering him on.

I have a few things to share that I’ve been loving this week including a new vegetarian dinner recipe we loved.

Chocolate PB cups

So first things first, let’s start off with some chocolate. I have a sweet, sweet friend in NY who sent me these delicious Perfect Bar dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I love everything I’ve had from Perfect Bar and these are no exception. They do need to be refrigerated, and while they aren’t exactly “healthy”, they are a delicious whole food alternative to Reese’s. They have a tiny sprinkling of sea salt which is a marriage made in heaven with chocolate and PB in my opinion. You can order directly from Perfect Bar with free shipping (they send with ice packs) and get 15% off your first order.

Eye Sleep Mask

Next is a sleep hack that I just discovered. The hubby has been staying up later reading with his bedside light on making it harder to fall asleep. I also was waking up before the alarm as light comes through our cheapo blinds. I decided to try an eye sleep mask that I got for free on some Jet Blue flight and I love this thing. It’s like a light switch for my mind and I can instantly fall asleep once I’ve drowned out the light. I’ve ordered a silk one from Amazon (only $7) hoping it’s a bit more comfy, but this might be something you want to try if you’re having issues falling/staying asleep.

Hint water

So when this first came out, I did not like the blackberry flavor I tried and wrote it off. They’ve since come out with a flurry of flavors and they are delicious. It’s still water that is lightly and naturally fruit flavored. My favorites are the apple, black cherry, pineapple and watermelon. There is a peach flavor, but I have not been able to find it at my local stores yet. If you don’t like sparking water or like me, you can’t drink due to reflux issues, give this a try. Ensure it’s super cold as it’s not very good at room temp. You can order off Amazon, but I found mine at Target and most grocery stores do carry.

And for the recipe we tried and loved this week…..I’ve tried a few black bean taco recipes and this one was similar but the cilantro pesto made it stand out. So delicious and good on a hot day.

Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

Here’s to a gorgeous weekend!

Reduce GERD, Acid Reflux and Gastritis With 3 Easy Tips

If you’re reading this, I feel your pain and am sorry you are suffering with the frustration that acid issues bring. I have been struggling with Gastritis and GERD for over three years now, and am happy to say that I’ve found almost 100% relief from it. It has taken some discipline and changes to my daily choices and habits. Acid issues can be very damaging to your body over the long term and in my opinion PPI’s (Proton Pump Inhibitors) were not a solution due to the side effects including hurting gut health and overall immunity. Here are my tips and I hope they work for you. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, so be sure to consult with your physician.

  1. Find your triggers, eliminate them, find replacements

You might already have an idea what triggers your acid problems. My triggers are primarily coffee, alcohol, carbonated water and too much caffeine. I’ve eliminated almost all of these from my diet with the exception of coffee because I just don’t want to live in a world without my coffee. I’ve made some adjustments to my coffee regimen which deserves it’s own post here. Occasionally I’ll have a sip of wine or beer without issues, but I really don’t miss it anymore. Don’t know what your triggers are? Try keeping a food journal to track what you eat and drink so you can pinpoint any culprits as issues occur.

**Some common triggers to avoid and other options**

Coffee: See my coffee regimen here

Black Tea: Switch to a caffeine free rooibos or caffeine free chai

Carbonated beverages: Switch to flavored water like the hint brand or make your own with fruit ice cubes.

Citrus: I just use this sparingly in cooking. Lots of non-citrus fruits and veggies still provide plenty of vitamin C too.

Spicy foods: Experiment with other spices and fresh herbs to keep flavor but cut out the trigger

Fried foods: Try homemade baked versions and invest in an air fryer to get the crunch that fried foods give

Chocolate: Try semi-sweet or milk chocolate or only small amounts of very dark chocolate. Another tip is just avoid two triggers together such as coffee and chocolate at the same time. Ensure they are spaced out.

2. Sleep Elevated and with an empty stomach

This matters as sleeping elevated helps keep the stomach acid from seeping out of your tummy into your esophagus. I’ve invested in this wedge pillow and have been using it for six months with great results. No more sore throats in the morning from acid. It does take some getting used to and I’ve trained myself to sleep like a vampire on my back. A side bonus is that this is great for reducing puffy eyes and wrinkles!

3. Eat smaller meals and try fasting

I find that if I get really full, this exacerbates my acid issues. I now try to never get to that full point and just stay at the satisfied point. Intermittent fasting has become an easier task because I stop eating very early in the evening (no later than 6pm) to avoid going to sleep on a full stomach.

I hope these tips help you and would love to also hear anything you’ve done that has helped too! Here’s to good health!

Low Acid Coffee Hacks

If coffee is your love language, the thought of giving it up due to acid reflux, GERD or gastritis is a nightmare. I’ve been there and after lots of trial and error, I can offer some tips on how to enjoy a lower acid version of your coffee. Here are the tips:

Select lower acid beans/grounds:

I personally have had great success with Trader Joe’s Low Acid French Roast. You can also pick darker roast coffees which have less caffeine and can be less irritating. Look for beans from Brazil or Central America which tend to be naturally lower in acid.

Use a coarser grind:

It is better to use a coarse grind vs. a fine grind as less acid is released.

Use a cold brew method or let the coffee sit overnight:

I have used both of these methods, and am currently brewing my coffee at night and letting it sit before I drink it in the morning. I have also used a cold brew Hario coffee maker and this is also a great option. If you prefer a bottled cold brew, I have tested most of the major brands and Chameleon Cold Brew has the lowest acid that I have found.

Mix your coffee with a substitute:

Since I am an all day coffee sipper, I brew in my coffee maker, a scoop of Trader Joe’s low acid coffee with a scoop of Teecino (an herbal coffee substitute). It tastes great and I still get the enjoyment of sipping on my iced “coffee” all day. I prefer the Teecino Java, Hazelnut, Vanilla Nut or Maca Chocolate flavors. I buy mine on Amazon, but you can find it in most natural grocers.

Modify your coffee order:

If you’re ordering at Starbuck’s or another shop, always modify to one shot of espresso vs. the 2-3 that go in a grande. You can even have them substitute some cold brew for the espresso which will have lower acid. Also, try almond milk vs. dairy milk as some have reported that dairy exacerbates their acid issues.

Hope these tips help allow you to still enjoy your coffee habit!

22 “Clean” Adult Shows on Netflix and Prime

We all have a lot more time at home lately which allows for more streaming binges. The hubs and I currently have Netflix, Prime and Disney + and I’m looking at adding Hulu into the mix too. While I’m not judging others, we try to watch shows that don’t contain lots of graphic sex stuff. It’s what we feel is in line with our Christian beliefs and it’s hard to unsee something once you’ve seen it. It’s also really hard these days to find good shows that don’t contain over the top nudity. If you’re like us and looking for some cleaner options, I wanted to help you out by compiling a list of shows we’ve really enjoyed that you don’t have to worry about seeing stuff you’d rather not. I won’t give a synopsis of each one, but hope you enjoy. Keep in mind these aren’t necessarily family friendly as some might have violence, language and/or more adult themes.  Also, there might be implied scenes in these shows, but they are all graphic nudity free. I’d love to hear any options you recommend too.

Netflix

  • The Blacklist
  • Rebellion
  • Colony
  • Wanted
  • The Umbrella Academy
  • Secret City
  • Somebody Feed Phil
  • The Staircase
  • The Killing (season 1- can’t speak to season 2)
  • Fallet
  • Safe
  • Hinterland
  • Shetland
  • Limitless (similar to movie with Bradley Cooper)
  • Longmire

Amazon Prime

  • Detectorists
  • Homecoming
  • Dickensian
  • Unforgotten
  • Endeavour
  • The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
  • Little Dorrit

2020 Goal Setting Tips

I love the fresh slate that a new year brings and it’s even more exciting to have a new decade. I went through the last ten years and wrote down one big thing that happened each year from 2010 through 2019. All I can say is, time sure does fly! I wanted to share some of my 2020 goals with you and the process I take to ensure I don’t just forget about these goals after January has passed.

I arrange my goals in buckets of Spiritual, Financial, Professional, Hobbies/Growth and Health. I try to only plan 1-2 goals per bucket otherwise I know I’m just setting myself up to fail. I also involve the hubby as some goals involve both of us and we want to be sure we’re both on the same page and working towards these goals together.

I only make quarterly goals because I want to keep them achievable and have the flexibility and freedom to adjust these goals as needed. Now to get really nerdy, I schedule a monthly check-in on the first of each month with my hubby so we can review our goals and our progress. Again, this ensures I’m sticking to the goals and not just forgetting about them after the newness of January has faded.

To summarize here are a few goal setting tips:

  • Arrange goals in buckets (Health, Hobbies, Professional) and only pick 1 goal per bucket. 
  • Involve your spouse or significant other to have an accountability partner. This also helps with together goals such as finances or home projects.
  • Make quarterly goals with a measurement metric at the end of each quarter to gauge your progress. 
  • Schedule a monthly check in on your calendar with your goals attached so you can review your progress. 
  • Include your WHY with each goal that you set so you can stay motivated and remember what is driving you to achieve this. 

Here are my goals in each bucket for some inspiration:

Spiritual: Study book of the Bible in depth beyond just daily reading.

Financial: Get a trust completed on Legal Zoom by March 30, 2020

Professional: Start a new career and making a specific salary goal

Hobbies: Do a daily Spanish Duolingo lesson

Health: Cut back daily sugar intake to less than 21 grams per day

I’d LOVE to hear your goals for 2020 and how you are planning to succeed in achieving them.

What to expect from a Pressed Juicery Cleanse

cleanse-3

 Here we are a few weeks into January, the time when we’re setting new goals and hitting the reset button. I felt the need to reset and refresh my eating habits as I’ve been pretty much eating whatever I want including a hefty amount of  sugar. I decided to do a juice “cleanse” with Pressed Juicery to get my food mindset back on track.

I committed to a 2 day cleanse due to the cost ($30 per day) and also wanted to see if I would really follow through with this. I snookered a co-worker into doing the cleanse with me because misery loves company right? So here’s what you need to know to do this cleanse along with my results and daily recap throughout the cleanse. I chose to do the most intense, lowest sugar, lowest calorie cleanse because that’s how I roll. Pressed Juicery has three levels of cleanses. I did Cleanse 3.

img_0391

Pressed Juicery Cleanse 3: lowest calorie and lowest sugar

Before the Cleanse

I did zero prep before the cleanse such as cutting out sugar or caffeine. I just dove in head first. Disclaimer though…I continued to drink my cup of morning coffee mixed with  chicory and a splash of unsweetened almond milk. Sorry, but I am not giving up my coffee for ANYTHING.

  • Check your schedule to ensure you don’t have any big food events (work luncheons, parties etc…) and nothing too physically taxing such as long runs or intense workouts planned.
  • Check your cycle and plan a time when you are not close to starting your period. Personally, I start to sleep poorly, am moodier and have less self control during PMS time and couple that with cleansing and you’re going to be Ms. Crankypants.
  • Plan the cleanse on days you have easy access to a restroom because you will be peeing A LOT. You are constantly drinking water or juice and you will be taking countless trips to the bathroom. So a road trip would be a bad idea.
  • I would recommend days that you are busy as it helps to have distractions such as errands, cleaning the house etc…
  • Cleanse on days you don’t have cooking responsibilities. It’s really difficult to be that involved with food while you are cleansing.
  • Pick up all your juices the day before so you have them ready to go.

img_0390

Day One

I am full of resolve and confidence and excited to start this challenge. My stomach starts to growl around 7am and I drink my first juice. The juices are surprisingly tasty and satisfy the tummy. I have to fight the natural impulse to get up and grab a snack from the work kitchen around 9am and throughout the day. I notice that these urges come on when I am feeling slightly hungry, I am bored or there is a complex issue I don’t want to work on. I continue to drink the juices at the 2 hour intervals- 9am, 11am an 1pm. At 2pm, I head out for a lunchtime run of 3 miles and have plenty of energy. I am not ravenous when I finish.

At night, I do start to feel really hungry and find it impossible to prep dinner for the hubby. It is too tempting smelling and handling all the food. I almost eat a potato chip but the hubby holds me accountable and asks if I really want to do that. Bless him. I sip on some chamomile tea to end the night and sleep like a baby.

img_0389

Day Two 

I wake up confident and not too hungry. I have enough energy to do a leg workout in the a.m. Thinking about food and what I am going to eat the next day consume my thoughts. The worst part is that my stomach starts to feel gassy and urpy. It feels like things are moving around and it is super uncomfortable. The unsettled stomach subsides around 1pm followed by feeling sluggish and cranky. I am having a hard time keeping up with all the juice drinking too, so much so that I fall behind and don’t drink the almond milk “dessert” juice. Emotionally and physically I feel low, tired and cranky. The hubby is really looking forward to this cleanse being over. Again, I sleep well and thoughts of tacos and breakfast in my near future kept me sane.

img_0384

Results and Thoughts

I lost 1 lb after the cleanse. My stomach feels flatter and less bloated. Keep in mind that you are still consuming at least 850 calories on the most intense cleanse so you are by no means starving yourself or fasting. Pressed Juicery recommends drinking your juice followed by 16 oz of water. I was not successful in this and I’m sure that it would have been better if I followed their directions.

Most importantly, I feel a sense of confidence and accomplishment for having met my goal. I also have a heightened awareness of how often I had been snacking when I didn’t need to. It was almost refreshing to feel REAL hunger. How often do we let ourselves get really hungry before we eat? So often we are snacking and never allow our bodies to get into that hungry, stomach growling state. I felt very in tune with my body and my mind throughout this process.

I also felt very hydrated and my skin was glowing. It made me realize that I don’t drink enough water and do need to up my intake of greens as beauty and health are directly impacted by what we consume.

Next time I would opt for a 3 day cleanse. I am also considering doing a once a week water or juice fast as a regular routine to reap these benefits.  For cost reasons, I would most likely attempt to juice at home vs. buying. I’ll keep you posted.

My 4 Favorite Blogs to Follow

Happy Friday! We made it! It’s been one of those calmer weeks around here, which I like and would not trade for anything. For today’s Friday favorites, I wanted to share a few of the blogs that I really love and follow on a regular basis. You’ll see a common theme here, as they are all blogs with a mix of fitness, food and fashion; lifestyle blogs that have some variety to them. So without further ado, here are my favorite blogging ladies and I’d love to hear of any bloggers that you are loving right now too.

The Hungry Runner Girl

featured-4

While I’m not an avid runner, I love this gal’s blog and read it almost daily. The Hungry Runner Girl is Janae, a Utah mom of three young kiddos. I don’t know how she does it, but she blogs every day. The topic of running takes a prominent spot on the blog, but she also talks a ton about food, family and products she’s using. You feel like you’re one of her good friends giving you a glimpse into her daily life all while being genuine and transparent. She ALMOST motivates me to start running again half marathons again, but then I remember how much I don’t enjoy running long distances. We’ll see. If you are a runner or just want some food tips, this is a great blog to check out.

Honey We’re Home 

Hair-curling-tutorial-4.jpg

I have to say Megan’s blog, Honey We’re Home, is my favorite spot to go to for fashion, beauty and fitness tips. She’s a Texas mama of two, in her early forties and is as fit and cute as can be. If you are part of the short girl club, you will love her petite friendly outfits (she’s 5’1”). Her style is casual, classic and feminine and I love that she tests out so many outfits for us petite ladies. She also gives great beauty tutorials on hair, makeup and skincare that are easy to follow. She taught me how to use a curling wand and I am forever grateful. Her blog also features some little snippets on organization, fitness and home decor all with her down to earth realness and positivity.

The Fitnesissta 

wall-pushup

Gina just celebrated ten years of blogging over at The Fitnessista and what a talented, high-achiever she is. Her blog is heavily fitness and healthy food focused, but she also touches on fashion, makeup and what’s going on in her life. She’s a mom, a military wife, an aerobics instructor and most recently a podcaster (haven’t checked out the podcast yet, but I’m sure it’s awesome). I really enjoy her recipes, workout suggestions and life recaps and look forward to listening to her podcast real soon.

Hi Sugarplum!

HiSugarplum-91-1200x1798

Last but certainly not least, is Cassie’s blog, Hi Sugarplum! I just started following Cassie a few months ago and since then she’s partnered with Nordstrom and launched a line of clothing and accessories with Gibson. Her style is casual, kinda Southern, kinda preppy and 100% adorable. If you need outfit and home decor inspiration, this is your gal to follow.

I’d love to hear about the blogs or insta accounts you are inspired by and following- please share!! Have a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Target Fitting Room Finds

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!! I hope you have some fun plans in store for the three day weekend. I do plan on doing some relaxing and a little shopping which started yesterday with a trip to my beloved Target. They got a flurry of new warm weather dresses in and I tried on a few during a quick lunch time shopping trip.

IMG_6122

XS Xhilaration Dress * Wedges 

This was by far my favorite dress of the bunch. It’s a beautiful teal blue with black and brown detail on the bottom. The upper portion is fitted and flares a bit at the waist. The straps are adjustable and the back has a gorgeous crochet detail which I failed to get a pic of. This is the XS and hits just above the knee on me. Would be okay for a casual work outfit if partnered with a jean jacket. I linked up two of the same cut of dress, but they don’t have this specific pattern online yet.

IMG_6120

XS Xhilaration Dress Wedges 

This was a fun, lightweight one and on the sexier side. It ties at the chest and has a little triangle cut out. It’s super lightweight so it would make a perfect vacation dress or bathing suit coverup.

IMG_6118

Maxi Dress XS Wedges 

Another one I really loved but it was about two inches too long even with my wedges on. This off the shoulder maxi is adorable and is an interesting rust orange color. There is a slit up the center and it’s smocked across the chest and half sleeves. Perfect for date night or a trip to Mexico!! It comes in a black floral print as well, but I think this orange is so different.

IMG_6115

I ended up buying this maxi dress from Knox Rose. It is great for errands or to dress up and even wear to work. It’s really a wrap style dress which you can’t tell from the pic and has a fun hem that is higher in some places. I really like the tied waist to accentuate the waistline and it is beyond comfy. It’s not online yet so check your local Target if they carry the Knox Rose line. I’m wearing XS.

IMG_6093

Top Olive XS * Top Blush XSWedges 

I really liked this boho top from Knox Rose. It’s a very feminine green and pale coral. I love it with my favorite pair of white jeans from American Eagle. The top is super lightweight without being see-through. A great casual piece with the fun tassel details. The green is almost sold out online so I linked up the blush/navy version as well which looks really cute too.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend and to all of those who have served and continue to serve our country, protecting our freedom- we appreciate you and honor you!

 

Tuesday Target Finds

Top of the morning to you this Tuesday. Bringing you some Target fitting room finds including a fun little shamrock tee just in time for St. Patty’s Day coming up. We honestly don’t usually do anything for St. Patrick’s Day besides wear green but it might be fun to make some Irish Soda Bread. We’ll see.

IMG_5444 2

Shamrock Tee XS

IMG_5518

Striped Top XS

I thought this little striped top’s neckline makes it perfect for date night. No necklace needed….just some heels and black leggings or denim. It also is loose around the waist so it’s forgiving for tummy areas.

IMG_5523

Lace Dress XS

If you are not afraid of some bold color, this lace dress would be perfect to wear to a spring wedding or Easter Sunday. It is so feminine and cheerful. It’s a vibrant coral and I would wear nude pumps with it to lengthen the legs and pull it all together. It also comes in a bright yellow.

IMG_5521

Off the shoulder smock dress XS

And last but not least, this little off the shoulder smocked top dress. It is really lightweight and so comfortable. It’s more of a deep purple/blue which is so pretty. It comes in a solid maroon too and I just love it for a hot summer day (someday soon!) with wedges or flip flops.

Hope you have a beautiful Tuesday!!