Monday, April 18, 2016

5 Ingredient Sweet Potato Brownies

I saw a post for a 5 ingredient, anti-inflammatory brownie recipe and I was excited to try it. I mean, how much could I possibly mess up with such a simple recipe?

I found the MaraNatha almond butter at Walmart. They have other flavors like maple, dark chocolate, caramel, and crunchy. I think I may try these brownies with another flavor or almond butter and see how they taste. The carob chips were a bit harder to locate but I did find them at Whole Foods for about 3 dollars a bag. 





Ingredients
  • 2 cup mashed sweet potato (about 2-3 sweet potatoes)
  • 1 cup smooth nut butter of choice (I recommend almond or cashew butter)
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2  cup cocoa powder
  • 1-2 cups carob chips (optional)


Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a small cake/loaf pan (I used 8x8 pan)
  2. On the stove, melt nut butter with maple syrup
  3. In a large bowl add the mashed sweet potato, melted nut butter and maple syrup, and cocoa powder and mix well
  4. Fold in carob chips, as many as you want.
  5. Pour mixture into greased pan. Optional: sprinkle carob chips on top.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before slicing and refrigerating.





These brownies are best when cooled completely otherwise they will be too mushy and will fall apart. Store in fridge or freezer and ENJOY!

The benefits of these sweet potato brownies. 

Sweet Potatoes have a natural sweetness that can help you reduce your sugar intake, supports blood sugar management, if you have a serious sweet tooth. They have a relatively high glycemic index and can be great for those dealing with type 2 diabetes.

Anthocyanin (what makes a sweet potato orange) provides excellent anti-inflammatory benefits. The benefits of this compound are felt the most in the nerve tissue and brain.

Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins A and C, making them great for your immune system. They also have vitamin B6, B1, B2, B3, manganese, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber; all of which are compounds that support the work of the digestive system, keep our blood safe and support our overall health.

Maple Syrup contains up to 24 different antioxidants that are beneficial for reducing free radical damage that can cause inflammation and contribute to the formation of various chronic diseases.


Verdict


When I pulled the brownies from the oven, the boys immediately asked me for a bite. They were saddened to learn they had to wait for them to cool. I was impatient so I went ahead and cut them while they were warm and they fell apart. Despite the fact that the texture is mushier than a normal brownie, these are REALLY good. If you like super sweet desserts, this may not be the one for you. Carob chips are not super sweet but they were perfect for my sweet tooth.





If you want another sweet potato brownie recipe, try Dr. Axe's 16 ingredient recipe. As for me, I am sticking with the 5 ingredient version.


*Post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Texas Mothers of Multiples 2016 Convention

Texas Moms of Multiples conventions were created for moms to spend one weekend away from their kids. To allow us to not feel guilty about our time away to hang out with other moms who "get" you, other moms who can offer bits of wisdom, to tell you that the stage you are in with your twins/triplets/or more won't be the worst you will ever experience, and that it really does change in a matter of moments. You find out your kids are not the only ones who like to scream out "vagina" and "penis" in public places, who eat boogers, smear poop, don't eat their vegetables, and still have tantrums even though you think they are way too old to throw fits still.

This past weekend was the 2016 convention held in Kemah. The convention was hosted by Bay Area Moms of Multiples and they planned the entire convention, from the tours, classes, and meals. Putting on an event of this magnitude takes a lot of teamwork and they pulled it off quite wonderfully.  I met some pretty hilarious ladies from other clubs but best of all, I hung out with some pretty cool ladies from our club.

The weather was gorgeous and the view was spectacular.




We visited Space Center Houston and took a tram tour.
 


Lots of good food.
 


Photo booth awesomeness happened at the dinners. Every party deserves a photo booth. Certainly makes taking "us-ies" easier.





So if you are not part of an organization who meets up annually, to celebrate being a mom, start your own club and plan an annual get-together. You deserve it. And you'll thank me later.

Monday, April 11, 2016

3 Main Reasons to get a Natural Himalayan Salt lamp in your home now.


3 Main Reasons to get a Natural Himalayan Salt lamp in your home now.

As a person who suffers from seasonal threats, having these softly glowing, natural sources of fresh, clean air in my home, is almost as good as an open window on a fresh Spring day. These salt lamps come in all shapes, sizes, and displays and you can place them on your desk, in your living room, in all bedrooms, anywhere you choose to put it.  One sits in our living area guarded by a ninja turtle.




Cleanses Air, reducing allergens
Himalayan salt lamps purify air through the power of hygroscopy. The salt lamps attract water molecules from the surrounding area and absorbs those molecules along with any foreign particles they may be carrying, into the salt crystal. As the lamp warms up from the heat produced by the light bulb, that same water particle evaporates back into the air and the trapped particles of dust, pollen, smoke, remain in the salt.

Himalayan salt lamps remove microscopic particles of dust, pet dander, mold, mildew, etc from the surrounding air. By placing a salt lamp in rooms you use the most, it can help cut back on allergens and allergy symptoms. The Himalayan Salt is said to works so well for allergy and asthma symptoms, you can find them in inhalers.

Adds negativity. In a positive way
Himalayan Salt lamps act as a negative ionizer and can reduce the levels of positive ions depending on the size and placement of the lamp.  In this technological age, we are surrounded by electronics such as TVs, computers, cell phone, tablet, appliances, etc that emit electromagnetic (EM) radiation. While they may be invisible, the long-term effects of EM exposure can be quite serious. Constant exposure to EM radiation is known to increase stress levels, cause chronic fatigue, and decrease the body’s immune response, among other things. Himalayan salt lamps work to neutralize electromagnetic radiation in a short range. Even as limited as its production of negative ions, it is a great addition to the home to help:
Increased relaxation and calmness
Improved ability to concentrate, allowing you to work for longer periods
Help with getting to sleep and more restful sleep
A better overall sense of health and well-being.


Reduces Stress and increase recovery from stress
In this study on people completing a 40-minute task on the computer, exposure to negative air ions reduced stress and anxiety and improved performance. The performance for the task was slightly but significantly improved by the presence of negative air ions. These results suggest that negative air ions are effective for the reduction of and the prompt recovery from stress caused by computer operation. (Source: Effect of negative air ions on computer operation.)
"Studies demonstrate that negative ions can definitely benefit people suffering from seasonal depression (SAD), and may help other forms of depression too."

Bonus Reasons
They are beautiful conversation pieces and are an environmentally friendly light source.The base of an HPS lamp is generally carved from a sustainable wood such as neem. Some lamps use a low-wattage bulb which consumes very little energy while others are powered by a lit candle. Every Himalayan crystal salt lamp is unique and the combination of colors that makes up each one can vary. Generally, the darker shades of pink and orange are considered to be of higher quality. Very light pink, especially with black deposits visible within it, can be a sign that it was mined from a lower quality vein of crystal salt. Generally, the weight of a salt lamp is a good indication of its size and air cleaning ability. The bigger and heavier it is, the more health benefits should be noticed from it.

Use these salt lamp sizes as a rough guide:

Work area/small office/cubicle/desk: a smaller crystal salt lamp around 5 pounds is good if located close to you in smaller spaces.
For small bedrooms, up to 10 square feet: a Himalayan salt lamp around 6 – 8 pounds.
For a larger bedroom, kitchen or small lounge room: a salt lamp between 9 – 11 pounds.
For larger spaces/office environments, where there is more electromagnetic radiation: a large Himalayan salt lamp, at least 12 or more pounds is more effective.


Interested in purchasing salt lamps?

I was not compensated for this review. I bought the salt lamp, liked it, wrote about it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Groupon: All Stars, iPlay, Pinot's Pallette, Showboat

$25 for a Three-Hour BYOB Painting Class for One at Pinot’s Palette ($45 Value)



$4.50 for One Day of Uncovered Valet Parking at Houston Hobby at WallyPark ($8.95 Value). Up to 7 Days.



$16 for Admission to Movies for Two at The Showboat Drive-in ($23.25 Value)



$9 for $16 Worth of American Comfort Food at All Stars Family Grill


iPlay open playin Sugar Land

Three or Five Open-Play Sessions at iPlay Sugar Land (Up to 39% Off)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

eMeals is what's for dinner.

One of the areas I wanted to focus on for 2016 was better meal planning for our family. Our schedules are getting busier and some nights we are not even eating as a family. It is difficult to get a nutritious, healthy meal when you have very few options and most of  them are fast food places. With meetings and activities, there is also little time to sit down at a restaurant just to get better options than a number 1 combo at whatever place has a drive through.

I chose eMeals.com for the menu plan options and the price.

Meal plans arrive via email or smart device app on Wednesday. Each menu plan contains 7 meals, a main dish and a side dish. A shopping list is included listing items needed for each meal.  If you choose a particular store where you shop, the shopping list includes pricing. There is also a smart device app you can download. If a particular week does not appeal to you, you can use the app or log in to your account to change the menu plan. The bonus is that you also get the previous week's menu plan for the new plan you choose. Tip: viewing the plans in the app is so easy, I prefer looking at them on the app, if I decide to change my plan, I do it there, then I log in from my desktop and print/save the plan. Keep in mind that you won't get an email if you change the plan.

I already had a weekly dry erase board with days of the week. To start, I chose a menu plan based on the days of the week we were going to cook at home. 

 First time ever eating Brussels sprouts and cooking with artichoke.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive program to buy into. $69 for a year. With the potential for 365 meal ideas, that comes to $.19 per recipe.
  • You save the pdf file and you can print the shopping list as many times as you need.
  • Ability to create freezer meals or do a meal dump.
  • A chance to try foods you may not normally include in your family meals.
  • If you don't like a particular list for that week, you can switch it to another plan. No limit to switching.
  • There are options for breakfast, lunch, dessert, and special occasions.
  • Smart device app gives you the ability to take your shopping list with you.


CONS:

  • There is some duplication in menus. If you choose more than one plan, keep that in mind. I don't know what kind of duplication will take place year after year. 
  • It would be nice to have pricing on all the weekly plans so that I have an idea on food budget for that week or month.

We have been using the meal plans for the last 2 months and I have to say I am glad for this service. My hubs gets to be involved in the meal choices, the list is practically made, I just have to add the household grocery list. The kids like seeing what is on the menu so they can complain about eating it before the plate is placed in front of them.

If you want to try eMeals, you can choose from a variety of menu plans. If you get a plan one week and you don't care for the majority of the recipes, you can select another plan.



Groupon currently has a deal for eMeals

Choose from Three Options

  • 6 months of weekly online dinner plans (a $59 value)
  • 6 months of weekly online lunch and dinner plans (a $83 value)
  • 6 months of weekly online breakfast, lunch, and dinner plans (a $101 value)
I was not compensated for this review. I bought the bottle, liked it, wrote about it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

My first IF: Table



What is If:Table?

A place to gather women and share a simple meal and dive deep with people over real stories and Christ centered conversations. A time for a whole lot of laughter – and maybe a few tears – but time spent that leaves us with glad hearts. Full hearts. Grateful hearts.
The vision is
6 women
4 questions
2 hours
(Acts 2:46)
I heard about IF: Table when I attended a local IF: Gathering in February. It was such and emotional event for me and I am still trying to wrap my head around all that I given. I was inspired to continue my faith journey and reached out to a neighborhood friend, Tiffany. It was something she has been wanting to do ever since she attended a Gathering last year. Rather than invite those we knew in the neighborhood and who we were comfortable being around, we decided to post it in our neighborhood group and see who God called to us. What a wonderful surprise when we saw so many women interested in attending. 
We made it a potluck and asked others to bring a dish or items to share: Appetizer/Starter, Main, Side, Bread, Dessert, Drink. I wish I had taken a picture of Tiffany's beautiful table scape and of the group of beautiful ladies who attended. It's such a neat feeling to be able to meet someone for the first time and be able to chat like you have known them for years. The conversations definitely changed tone once we started asking the questions posted for March with the theme centered around loneliness. Be prepared to answer some tough questions. 
  

What did I learn from If: Table?
{Plan your IF: Table} I would highly recommend planning or attending an IF: Table to any women embarking on a spiritual journey, whether you are just starting out or have been on the path for some time. Even if you have not started the journey, this is still an event for you.
{Venture out of your usual circle of friends} Once we leave school, it becomes harder to meet and make lasting friendships. You also grow as an individual and the friends you had in grade school, high school and college may not grow along with you. 
{Keep it simple} There is no need to go all out for this event. Use paper plates and cups. Buy pre-made dishes if you don't have time to make something. Dress in your comfiest leggings. Don't stress about the condition of your home. Not everyone lives in a model home.
{Stay on Course} Once you start opening up, it is easy to want to continue talking about your answers. Be sure to allow the other women an opportunity to discuss their answers to the questions. If you feel a connection to other women, schedule time for a one-on-one meet up.
{Don't judge a book by its cover} We prejudge and form opinions about others that might prevent us from seeking new friendships. It's easy to find surface friends; you meet someone, you talk about topics you may have in common, hobbies, kids, movies, etc.  You might think, "Wow, we have so much in common, she likes blue M&Ms, I like blue M&Ms, I can see us being bosom buddies" or maybe "Good Golly, this chick is bonkers with her crocheting cat sweaters!" But in order to find deep, friendships, you have to dig deeper. Look past the surface. You may find that lifelong friend who will come over with a bag of blue M&Ms and some yarn and you can both crochet cat sweaters.
{Be open and communicate} The questions can be difficult to process and answer. If you are going through some tough times, there will be some tearful talks. Be prepared with tissue and hugs. 
{It's cathartic} As much as you may not want to divulge personal information, especially to strangers, it is amazing freeing to be able to talk about the issues that are troubling you. You will be surprised how many others are walking the same path and dealing with similar hardships. This is one event you want to make sure is a no technology zone. 
If you are interested in starting your own If: Table, you can find all the info and download the questions on the If: Table pagePinterest has so many ideas you can use to make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. You can also follow my board, Anchored in Faith.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Glasstic is fantastic

Water bottles are something I never put much thought into. The bottle just needed to hold my drinks. I had a plastic one from Walmart for almost and year and it was double insulated and kept my drink cold. But I dropped it one too many times and I had to get a new one. The next one was from 5 Below and it came with a freezable core that was supposed to keep my water cold. That ended up being a bust too because it sweat more than a hot yoga instructor and it was too big to fit in a drink holder.

I decided it was time to invest in a good bottle. I sometimes add citrus essential oils to my water so the bottle I got needed to be glass. But who wanted to carry a big, heavy glass bottle around fearful it might drop and shatter?

Then I saw a FB post about Glasstic with a coupon code for 10% off. and decided to try the Value Pack for $20. It ended up being $18 with free shipping, not a bad deal for a glass water bottle.


What I like about Glasstic:
The glass bottle is encased in plastic making it insulated and will not sweat.
Lightweight
Locking mechanism for the cap
Slim design makes it easy to carry
Fits in most cup holders
Dishwasher safe
Handle allows you to attach it to your bag or belt loop
Shatterproof (watch the video of the dropped bottle)
The wrap designs are removable, replaceable and laminated to change the look of your bottle.
Different bottle colors and designs to give each member of your family their own style.

Things I did not like about the bottle:
Only 16 oz. If you drink lots more, it's a lot of refilling.
The spout opening is awkward and took me a bit to not drink and drip. (I am clumsy that way)

Use GLASSTIC10 for 10% off

Glasstic FAQs
Glasstic Articles

I was not compensated for this review. I bought the bottle, liked it, wrote about it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The one where it's just the beginning

This day seemed so far away. I thought I would have plenty of time to prepare for it. But what seemed like eons ago when I first held their tiny 4 lbs 6.5 ounces and 3 lbs 3 ounces bodies or on their first day of daycare, was really only 5 years ago. Five years that sped by in the blink of an eye.


Today is the first day of kindergarten for my boys, no longer babies, physically and mentally, but babies in my eyes. And really forever. No matter how long you have, you are never really prepared for what you kids can do to you. No matter how strong you think you are emotionally, you never know when you stomach will be in knots or a flood of tears will overtake you and you are left with a pile of tissue smeared with all your makeup and your husband looking at you like you are Rocky Balboa screaming "ADRIAN!"

The hubs and I walked the boys to their classroom. Both Dean and Sam exclaiming how excited they were for kindergarten. They are no stranger to being left in the care of others. They have been going to daycare since they were 15 months. They have been in separate classrooms since they were 3. They know the drill. To them it is just a different school with new friends to meet. They have no separation anxiety and no fears. Much unlike their mom on this first day.

The boys settled into their seats and we said our goodbyes. We went to the tears and tissue room where the PTO prepared these tear worthy packets. I met other moms and surprisingly, no one was in tears.

 As the hubs and I walked out the door, and closed behind us, I was hit with the realization that this was it. The start of their school journey, no going back. Up until this point, I kept it together but once in the car, the waterworks flowed. The hubs asked why I was crying now and not in the boohoo room. He told me  that they will be fine. They weren't tears from worrying about their safety or well being. It wasn't from worry if they will do well or make friends. They weren't even tears that they were growing up so fast and that the years grow shorter until they they will leave the nest.  My tears were from gratefulness that God allowed me to be their mom. That he thought me worthy enough to care for such amazing kids. Mine were tears of happiness because they are the best things that have ever happened to me. So this is my wish for them as they embark on their journey.



It's just the beginning...







Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Back in Bowl

I have not updated much about our embryo donation and adoption. In January, three of our embryos were thawed for transfer. Although there was an initial positive pregnancy test, her HCG levels continued to drop and resulted in an early miscarriage. 

I was so saddened to hear of this news. A and W planned for a May transfer. Their doctor decided to go with embryos that were further along in development so it was decided that our remaining embryos would not be used.

Last Friday, which happened to be the 13th, our caseworker told me there was not a successful pregnancy achieved. This has been their 3rd transfer since last November. I am devastated for this couple.  I cannot begin to imagine what they have been enduring, especially A having to go through several tests, shots, and hormonal changes. Then having to endure heartbreak after heartbreak with each failed transfer. They are doing any more transfers and look into traditional adoption after they take some time off. 

I have provided my email to them in hopes that one day, A and W might want to reach out. They have no ties to me but I feel a small connection with them and would love to see their dream of a family come to fruition. As for our remaining embryos, there are two left. I don't know that they will ever be adopted. And I don't know how I feel about it at the moment.

This is not meant to be a sad post about embryo donation and adoption. I am still very glad that we have chosen this method of giving. Even though it was not a success, I feel honored that we helped this couple in some way and gave them a glimmer of hope.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Friday the 13th - A good day for a tat.

Great friends are one of life's hidden gems. They encourage you, they share your special moments and they laugh their asses off when you scream "Holy &*%$#@" because the tattoo you thought was a good idea right on your rib, ends up feeling like you are being pecked to death by a mechanical woodpecker. On Redbull.


Is that an F bomb straining to escape my lips?
I have thought about getting one for a few months. Since my 40th birthday to be exact and I added a tattoo to my bucket list. So when my friend Roxy said she wanted another one, we decided to make a night of it. My other friend came along for support and wanted to get one too. But she shall remain nameless.

But what R did not know is that I got cold feet and was not planning on getting one. That's a sucky thing for a friend to do, right? But being a good friend, she talked me into it and even bought my tattoo as a gift for me. I had no idea what I wanted anymore in terms of a design. But I knew if I got anything, it would incorporate my kids.

Since my other friend was starting to get cold feet, I told her I would go first. Well, we ended up getting ours at the same time anyway. There was a lot of moaning and wincing going on and we were in near tears. If only I had a piece of leather to bite down on.


I am happy that I got it. It was so much fun hanging with my friends and now we have bonded over tats. I am sure years down the road we will call each other up and ask how the tats are doing.


And if you are wondering, it hurts like a $%&%^&(^&(*())*(()*(_)&^%$%#$@#@#%!!!!!!!!!!



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Donation and Adoption




The transfer is tomorrow.
When I reread that, I get a flutter in my stomach.
And a tightening in my throat.
Then I feel the urge to cry.

If all goes as planned, my last five embryos will have been thawed and the select few will be transferred to a new family.  I pray that it is a successful transfer. No matter if they were my embryos or another donor couple's, I pray this couple gets to experience what they have been wishing, hoping and praying for the last 8 years.

When I tell people about what we decided to do, I get responses that range from awe to curiosity. But in every instance, I am told that we have given this couple a wonderful gift from this selfless act.
But what I don't tell people is that it was not all selfless.

I did this for me. I wanted the peace of mind that those embryos would help another couple. I hated the fact that I could not keep them and might possibly expand out family. I no longer have the worry of what would become of them.

I did this for my kids. I have always wanted more kids but it was not in the cards for us. If any children result from our embryos, if they ever choose to seek us out, they are welcome to do so. I would love for Sam and Dean to get a chance to know their biological siblings.



If anyone you know might be interested in learning about embryo donation and adoption, feel free to message me. Here are a couple articles about it.

The Beginning of Embryo Donation and Adoption

Long-frozen embryo brings joy to adoptive parents

Another Family Created and Donated the Embryos to your family, But this is Your Child!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sometimes, you have to send your cape out for alterations

I'm No Superman by Lazlo Bane


I'm certainly no Superman. Sometimes I think I'm Wonder Woman but really wish I could be Zatanna, Raven and Black Canary all rolled into one. With a sprinkling of Black Widow for good measure.

The last few weeks have been stressful.
The kids were sick. Not at the same time mind you. There were 4 days where I had one or the other at my work place. The first day would be fine but the second day, the little buggers would not sit still or use their inside voice. Then I got sick.

Sinus infection, coughing, headaches. Last week was unbearable. Last Thursday (Halloween), I started my downward spiral. I was like Lindsay Lohan, popping pills for the sinus pressure and pain and the migraines. I had to take the last migraine pill in my possession that day. This was the last pill that I had nursed and coveted since September. I said to myself that if my migraine does not go away, I am screwed. Friday, I was screwed.

I made my way to the Urgent Care Clinic. They took my blood pressure and it was a whopping 170/110.
Wait. What???!
They asked if I was on BP medication.
No.
Did I normally have bp issues?
No. I am in a lot of pain so that might be the cause.
Possibly. But that is still really high. Make an appointment with your doctor.
(or you're gonna die. dun, dun, DUN!)

Well, that's what I was thinking.


I got a shot at urgent care for my migraine and nausea. I got a refill for my migraine meds. I made an appointment with my doc. Even though I went through the weekend still in a drug induced haze and feeling slightly better, I continued to feel like I would drop dead any minute. What if I had a hard attack or a stroke while I was driving the kids? What if I was home with them and all of a sudden I was gone? Just those thoughts alone, I am sure elevated my blood pressure even more.

I tried the whole weekend to remain calm, to mellow out and be one with nature.
I saw the GP last Monday and my BP was 178/118.  Seriously?
I might as well have tried to make the Statue of Liberty disappear. Trying not to be stressed is the impossible magic trick for me. I ask the doc what I can do to help with my BP besides the meds. Stay calm. Again, cutting a women in half would be 100 times easier.

I am now taking blood pressure medicine. I'm 40 years old and my age is catching up to my 20 year old spirit. Last Tuesday was my lowest point. Not only was my migraine back but it was worse than ever. I was nauseated, I could barely walk, talk or open my eyes. My chest was so tight, I felt like 50 sumo wrestlers were sitting on me. And not in a good way. I felt I was knocking on death's door and wished he would open it just to put me out of my misery.


I rarely ask for help and I never let on that I am NOT superhuman but I felt I needed to be lifted up. Facebook is good for rallying friends. So I broke down and asked for prayers. When I woke from my coma, I was greeted with so much caring and concern. It could have been the second pill I popped but I like to think it was all the prayers and positive vibes sent my way that alleviated my pain.

There have been lots of crying and reevaluating. Even a fight with the hubs thrown in to really test my strength. In the greater scheme of illnesses, this is so minor. Many people would love to have this as their health problem as opposed to more serious conditions or terminal illness. Even though it reads like one, this is not my pity party. But I'll still cry if I want to.

It's ok NOT to do everything.
It's ok NOT to be everything.
It's ok NOT to be ok all the time.
It's ok, to put yourself before others, even your kids.
It's ok to ask for help.
And it's certainly ok to send out your superhero cape to be altered every once in a while.
You are still enough.