19 April 2016

Nightlight Conundrums

*I received this product at a discounted price in exchange for my honest review.  No additional compensation was received.  I choose to review products I think my readers might benefit from.  All thoughts and opinions are my own, based on my experience.

Our son, who is 3 years old, is absolutely in LOVE with his sisters’ “Frozen” nightlight plug-in.  He surprised me a few weeks ago with telling me that he needed Anna [for me to plug in the nightlight].  It was something I hadn’t heard him say before!  According to the doctor, he was behind on his speech so we really didn’t know when he would start talking and saying full sentences.  Granted, this isn’t his first sentence, it certainly was nice to hear him demand the “beautiful princess light” be plugged in before bedtime.

The girls wanted it back, naturally.  But it kept the peace at bedtime, so we allowed our son to keep it in his room.  And, they are much older and able to survive the night with a closet light left on for them.  

That problem is solved, but the bathroom is another issue.  They will both go in there in the complete dark and use the bathroom, but I feel like they should have some sort of guiding light in there.  We used to keep the light turned on but then the entire hallway was lit up.  All night.  I even had a neighbor mention it.  Thanks, we know.
When I saw this battery operated nightlight, I thought “This could work for them.”  It’s a motion sensor light, so it wouldn’t be on all night.  I went ahead and asked the girls how they’d feel about getting a new nightlight for the bathroom.  Of course they said yes, imagining it being a fancy Frozen nightlight.  Creative mom over here thought "It would just be a few Frozen stickers away from “pretty."

It shipped from China.  I got an email saying it wouldn’t be delivered until a few weeks later, BUT it actually arrived a week earlier.  We have had it for a week now, and I kind of have mixed reviews on it.

Let’s start with the cons:
The directions…they were fairly easy to read, but it would have been extremely helpful to know more about sliding the back door off of the body casing.  I thought it would be an easy sliding action.  It wasn’t so I really tried to make it move.  Then, I went Strong Woman on it, trying to force it off by sliding then twisting and --crack!   (It reads "Delicate Life" and that's probably what I should have been - delicate.) There are two little prongs or hooks on the underside of the door.  I snapped the bottom hook off in my attempt to open it.  It was more complicated than it needed to be.

Then, after I flipped it right side up, the little light cover on top fell into the casing. (You can see it inside, from the birds eye view above.  It's just a thin piece of frosted plastic.) And, now I can’t get it out.  Well, maybe with a little "Operation" technique, but I'm really not even worried about it.  At first glance, it just looks broken, but it still works!

These are really my only cons for this product, though the instructions are a big one.

So let’s talk about what I liked.  The light was activated with a little motion, so that is always a good sign.   I needed to be sure they were comfortable with it.  Also, the 3M stickers that it came with it stick REALLY well.  I mistakenly stuck the light onto the tank lid, not the toilet lid, and then tried removing it and had an extremely hard time.  Removing it was pointless anyway, because after I stuck it to the lid like the instructions said, it fell from force, the door popped off and the batteries flew out.  Maybe if I hadn’t twisted and broken the back door hook, it would have stayed in tact.  Oh well!  My mistake!  At least now you know.

Overall, I think we will run with this nightlight for as long as we can.  I’m still frustrated with the instructions, because I now have a broken nightlight, but it still does it's job illuminating the bathroom just enough to not be blinding or annoying.  I think that more specific instructions would have prevented my additional mishaps in using the product.  I’d probably buy it again, but at the discounted price.  

Maybe we should get those Frozen stickers out now.

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08 April 2016

List-It Friday: Why Selfies Are Important + Review

*This is a sponsored advertisement post.  I received a product discount in exchange for an honest review.  Additionally, I am not in any way affiliated with the product I am about to review.  All opinions are my own based on my personal experience.

If you have a smart phone, you probably have been in that awkward position of taking a selfie.

Don't be ashamed to admit it.

I've even done this with a regular camera.

The point is  we have all been there at one point or another. Or we will get there eventually.  Some people rag on others about how silly it is to take selfies.  Why so many?  Oh why??!

I am going to give you 10 good reasons, so listen up.

Why Selfies Are Important
1.  Courage - Bloggers, you know this one all too well.  For those of us who are selfie-shy, we tend to get a little embarrassed when we try to take a selfie out in public.  Even if it's for our blogs and social media.  I'm totally raising my hand here.  We have to get up the nerve to snap that selfie when the opportunity strikes!
2.  Practice - How do you know what your duck face looks like unless it's captured on camera?  And what if you can't get someone to take it for you?  Selfie!  You don't know how well you can contort your face into those coveted facial expressions unless you snap and study.  And hopefully erase all but one or two.
3.  But First, Selfie!  This song would not have been inspired had it not been for selfies.  This girl totally has it all figured out.  SBAE:  Selfie Before Anything Else.
4.  Independence - You  don't need a friend. You just need your phone, and a long arm, or an an awesome gadget like the one I have here.  It's you against the world.
5.  Money-Saver - You can save so much money when you take your own photograph.  It's quick, easy, and can be done in the comfort of your car or bathroom.  
6.  Picture Perfect - Only you have control over the quality of your picture (before it hits the internet).  Have a stray hair?  Retake.  Have a photo-bomber?  Retake.  You took too many steps to the left and fell into the water?  Retake, but dry it off first.  Winning!
7.  Using Your Phone To It's Full Potential - Smart phones have self-timers and amazing resolution.  There are also different types of equipment that can be used, like the extender arm gadget, or the fish-eye attachment, if you want that effect on your selfie.  I recommend getting an attachment that allows you to have BOTH hands in the selfie.  If you’re the only one in it, is it still a selfie?  YES!  There are also a ton of apps for free or for purchase that help you get the best selfie.  You get your $500-worth out of your phone!  No professional equipment necessary.
8.  Anywhere, Any Time - You're a lion in the prairie.  On the hunt for the perfect opportunity.  A photo op can occur at any moment, any time of day.  Unless you have the funds to hire a camera crew to follow you around all day, it's just you.  Rely on numero uno and get that selfie at the beach or while you’re enjoying a triple burger for your cheat meal.  
9.  Boredom - This hasn't been a problem for me, because at any given time I have 4 reasons to avoid it.  But if you are finding that you have way too much time on your hands, selfie!  
10.  Photo Challenges - It provides a challenge for those looking for adventure on the daily.  How many selfies at different locations can you take?  How many selfies can you take where you're photobombed by animals?  Famous people?  Can you take a perfect selfie without your appendage showing?  (No not that one)

See it clipped to the mirror on the left?

Although this is a funny post about being brave with your selfies, there comes a point where you really need to have a quality shot + a good angle. (No up the nose shots!)  And if you’ve been one to use a butter dish or a dumbbell to get the shot, then you know the struggle is real.

As you all may know by now, I'm into fitness.  So I take a lot of selfies, make a lot of videos, and it’s part of being transparent to my followers.  I want them to follow along on my journey.  Even though it may seem redundant to take so many pictures of myself, I am documenting my journey this way.  I also make videos,  and I know some people are wondering how I do it.  You can obviously tell when I’m using a GoPro, because of the fisheye view.  But the rest of the time I take my phone and get creative.

Along with selfies, videos are a great way to communicate and document my journey through fitness, healthy eating, and life in general, so it’s important to get a good shot. 

When I saw a picture of this cell phone holder clipped to a desk, I had to have it.  
Clamps onto some thing up to 2 1/2"; this is the phone clamp here.

One day I might be able to afford a slick studio set-up, who knows. Ha-ha!  (big dreamer here)  But I’m okay with snagging a problem-solving product to add to my repertoire, in exchange for a serious discount and an honest review.  Hey hey!  I'm pretty happy to add it to my collection of gear that makes my life easy.  (You can snag one for yourself on Amazon, here)
Then, I saw that it came with a table stand.  It's so cool!
It's a sweet set-up for my phone when I’m looking desperately on Pinterest for our dinner reading a recipe off my meal plan

Both pieces were a great investment.   
I put my GoPro on it to show you the size.
And hello easy selfies!  I have yet to take this outside, but it works well for where I take selfies and videos inside, where most of the magic happens.

In short, the product did not disappoint.  I was happy to find that the actual cell phone holder was bigger in real life.  And the desktop/table stand is really cool!  I use it in my kitchen. It looks like a business card holder (It actually makes my Samsung Note 5 louder when I have it sitting up.)  This is great for sitting it on a table, or desk - maybe you just want to listen to music or read something on the internet.  The back is adjustable, and it's a nice addition to the coiled clamp phone holder. (It’s described as a bracket, but I don’t see it.)

One thing this holder won’t be able to do is attach to any surface without an edge.  A countertop, desk top, edge of a mirror (I did that) will work.  It will attach to anything that is just shy of 2 1/2" in width, which is really all that I need it to do.  There are limitations with this holder too, such as using it like a selfie stick.  Unless you’re goal is to make me motion-sick while I watch your videos, don’t do it!

Thank you all for tuning in to a long overdue List-It Friday series, and reading a review on this product!  Hope you were entertained, at the very least.

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20 February 2016

Meal-Prep Madness

Meal-planning, why you gotta be so hard?!  I know I'm not the only one riding shotgun on the struggle bus here.  Come on, be honest!

I don't know why I make this so difficult.  It's not hard to put pen to paper (or fancy Excel spread sheets, if you're like me) but it is.  The only way I have been successful is when other people are counting on me.  And by other people, I don't mean my family.  They could care less if I have 7 days worth of food prepped - they know they are going to eat regardless. Ha-ha!  

Meal planning is a great way to stay on track.  I got it.  BUT - I never said I liked it.  In fact, I get all huffy and puffy with the whole idea of doing it. I lack the motivation.  I'm a "fly by the seat of my pants" type.  By Wednesday of the week, I'm way off in left field chasing down new recipes on Pinterest.  

After doing a detox, I'm thinking to myself "I am GOING to eat better!"  And I want to be less likely to fail.  Right?  Okay.  So I got this wild hair up my gym shorts and I'm all motivated and gung-ho about getting good at this meal-planning chore.  I want it to be more than just a tedious task.  I am trying to shift my mindset and think about how I'll feel during the week when I KNOW my shit is together.  Let's face it - sometimes, it's all over the place.

Screw that. After doing this detox, I realized that I appreciate clean-eating so much. I just survived 3 days on 900 calories for peanut butters sake! (Yes I  did eat.  Yes I did chew my food.  Yes I did get speanut butter.)

Now that my system is feeling good and cleaned out, (and the detox is o-v-e-r) I'm crazy motivated to flex my meal-prep muscles in the kitchen. I want to continue on this streak of eating healthy crunchy foods, minimizing my treats, and keeping it clean.

Here is the game plan:
*Collect recipes throughout the week (or reuse favorites)
*Shop on Friday or Saturday
*Meal-plan/prep on Sunday
*Get some rad friends to join me and hold me accountable (That would be you!)

I'm hoping to start a routine and keep it up.   And I've learned that it's easiest when doing it with other people, no matter what it is.  So you're  totally invited!   

We will communicate on Facebook (or instagram if you prefer), checking in daily.  I'll have to think of some fun incentives, because I love prizes and getting things in the mail!  Our biggest communication days will most likely be Saturday or Sunday, since we will want to prep before each week begins.  And during the week, I imagine we would all do some collab work by sharing recipes, where the best places to shop are, etc.

There's no catch - it's totally free!  You just have to hear me talk and read my posts and interact with me to let me know you're there.  Ha-ha! 
To sign up, click on the link! ----->  http://bit.ly/mealprepmadness

I think this is going to be so much fun!  Who’s in?!

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12 February 2016

Eat Your Veggies!

I used to absolutely HATE vegetables, unless they were pickles. I could literally eat a whole jar.  You couldn't get me to expand the horizons of my taste buds.  BUT, I had a moment in this journey where I wanted results.  What I was doing was not working. 

After I cleaned up my eating habits, I slowly started adding new healthy foods to my diet.  It’s been absolutely CRAZY because I’m eating all kinds of things I did not eat before.   Spaghetti squash, sweet bell peppers, mushrooms!  It’s insane.  And, I'm kinda proud. Joining a few clean-eating groups made me hold myself accountable.  I made sure I ate what was on the "menu.”  It was kind of like a “well everyone else is doing it” sort of thing, until I started feeling the changes going on inside my body.  More energy.  Cravings went down.  My taste changed.  I was more regular. (If I'm being completely honest...)  Horizons expanded.

Now I love all of those vegetables!  My taste is MUCH different, where I actually crave them.  

So that brings me to this topic.  And I want to preface this by saying that I am not a nutritionist, dietician, or whatever.  I don’t offer medical advice.  I simply share my story and pass on things that have helped me along the way.  It's my journey and I'm letting you ride shotgun.

I used to have a hard time making a colorful plate.  “Eating the rainbow” was something that seemed impossible, given my experience and long line of horrible eating habits.  I owned a pass on the struggle bus.  Maybe I had one color a day, and the best I could do was green.  Broccoli, green beans, spinach, lettuce…that was it.  And they were cooked to the point of having no nutrients left.  Cheese on the broccoli, green beans cooked in a little bacon fat, spinach boiled in soups, and lettuce.

It took me a while to open my eyes and face the facts: there is a purpose to mixing it up in the kitchen and on my plate.  I just didn't want to because 
A) It was intimidating and I didn't know how to prepare certain veggies  
B) I didn't want to give up the way of eating that made me feel happy (not necessarily good)
C) It was too much work.

Immersing yourself in a community of healthy nuts (a term of endearment, I promise) is a great way to learn lots of things.  And at some point, I may have been turned. [wicked smile]  I can’t survive off of grilled chicken and raw broccoli. (Though two summers ago I thought it was possible)

The reason you want to eat the rainbow, so to speak, is because each vegetable (this is about vegetables after all) has unique properties and benefits to your health and nutrition.  So if I'm only eating broccoli, I'm only getting the benefits from broccoli.  That's not going to work.  My body needs a variety of veggies for their minerals and nutrients.  Mind blown!  Can I just say I'm a late bloomer?  

Some keys to eating more veggies:
1)  Start small, with one or two.  Pick a recipe or two to make that doesn't completely shock your taste buds, and try it out that way. 
2)  Cook your veggies no further than al dente. This means no boiling your broccoli into mushy submission.
3)  Get funky with some kitchen gadgets.  Try out a zoodle tool that makes "noodles" out of zucchini.  Or you can try to use a grater to shred carrots. (Works amazingly well for meal prep)
4)  Take it done a notch in size.  Sometimes I don't want to eat a whole grape tomato.  I cut it in half.  And like I mentioned before, use a grater to shred carrots.  Cut down the size of your typical florets, and make the cauliflower and broccoli smaller.  
5)  Throw some veggies in your smoothie or shake.  I like to add spinach, I've done cauliflower (surprisingly was not bad!), and kale.
6)  Last resort, and I say this because you're not consuming the whole vegetable...juice it.  You can really juice about anything.  But there are some drawbacks to doing this.  You're discarding most of the vegetable, and drinking the juice that is produced in the end of the juicing process.  The whole vegetable is valuable in your diet, not just the juice.  Just something to think about. 

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19 January 2016

Push-Up Strong With Go Sport-It

*This is a sponsored advertisement post.  I received a product in exchange for an honest review.  Additionally, I am not in any way affiliated with the product I am about to review.  All opinions are my own based on my personal experience.

A home gym is really unique in that you can customize it any way you want.  Some people do it all at once, which is really awesome if you have the funds.  Some do it little by little, which is our case. And I have to choose wisely when adding new equipment.  In the past, I have added some pretty pointless pieces, which add to the clutter we already have here.

For the sake of my husband’s sanity, much thought is given to what I decide to purchase.  I know I need different ways to stir up my workout routine.  I can’t afford to clutter up the house at the same time.  So anything with multiple uses is automatically something I’m going to be eyeballing.  I’m all about getting the best well-rounded workouts possible from the comfort of my home.  

Here is what I accepted in exchange for an honest review of my experience.  I didn't have push-up bars and I've been wanting some so I thought  this would be perfect.  I received my push-up bars from Amazon in a timely manner, as always.  I opened it up right away and was super happy about one thing: I didn’t need to break out ANY tools.  This raised the likable factor.  It took all of 2 minutes tops, before I had it put together and ready for push-ups. 
In. Love.

Before I got these, I had been using a pull-up/chin-up bar that I would put down on the floor and use it for push-ups.  It was limited in use, because I couldn’t really customize my push-ups.  When I saw these push-up bars from Go Sport It, I jumped on the offer to review them, because I knew it would solve this problem for me. 

After using them for a week, I’m pretty stoked about grabbing them when I did.  Unlike the other bar I was using, I can change the width of my arms to do tricep push-ups or wide push-ups.  I can go lower without the risk of hitting my chest on a bar.  And I can use it for more than just push-ups.  I now use these to do planks, crunches with my exercise ball, and tricep dips.  I was given a bonus workout program that I have yet to check out too, so that is in the works.

At the end of this trial period, I’m happy to say that the push-up bars were worth adding to my home gym.  I’ll admit, I’m still pretty excited that I have these.  Push-ups are not my strong point and it’s something I need to keep working at constantly.  Because when you need to get stronger or more efficient at something, you find the right tools and get to work.

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17 January 2016

Be A Little Selfish - Love Yourself Challenge

"Happiness means loving yourself and being less concerned with the approval of others." ~Owen Campbell Jr.

Everyone could use a little more love in their lives. SELF-love, that is.  By that, I mean taking care of your star player, as Katt Williams would say. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in life, with our families, with other people, that we forget about ourselves and what makes us feel good.   Then there are times where we want to make a change, but we want to do it a certain way.  To be perfect, flawless.

There’s this whole downward spiral that happens when we aren’t happy and loving ourselves from the inside.  Sometimes the company, we keep is not a positive group.  Maybe we developed a habit of talking negatively about ourselves.  Or there are other unhealthy habits that we can't seem to break.   Being good to yourself is important, especially if you are always so giving with your time, effort, energy - you name it.  There has to be a balance.

You need to fill your cup so that you may continue to fill others.  Be a little selfish.  
Take a bubble bath.  
Snap a selfie because you nailed the winged eyeliner look (on both sides).  
Take the longer route so you can jam to a favorite guilty-pleasure song. (insert any of Justin Beiber's newer songs here)  
Splurge on those super cute leggings.  
Shave your bikini line - even while it's still winter.   (no she didn't!)  Oh yes.  I did.
Get your hair done, not just a trim. 

You deserve to feel good about yourself, however you can make it happen.  You are worth the time and effort.  So STOP putting yourself on the back burner, and find a balance to avoid it.

I’m trying something new.  New is my jam lately.  "New" is like a mantra for me to keep things alive and fresh and exciting in my world.  I decided to host a themed group on loving yourself again.  After some thought, I realized that I could stand to love and appreciate myself a little more. If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that I am a busy stay-at-home mom of 3 here.  They keep me so so busy.  I have a husband who keeps late hours at work and sometimes travels.  And I have my own business, and this blog.  "So when the hell do I find time to do me?"  

That’s a question I used to ask myself.  The answer today is that I schedule in my time.  It is non-negotiable. For instance, one thing I did the other day was put on a little make-up.  I spent 5 minutes, slapped some eyeliner on and my foundation.  You know, I wasn't perfectly put together but I felt good about myself afterwards.  That one little thing that I did for myself was just enough.

(Nothing special here, just feeling myself at the moment)

Imagine if we put a little bit of effort in every day.  What would that be like?  Starting in February, I am hosting a "Love Yourself Challenge."  (Don’t forget, it’s a leap year!)  Ladies, I’m looking for you!  Anyone willing to set aside time to work on loving themselves, inside and out should be in doing this with me.  A group of cool internet stranger friends all bonding over "self-love" quotes and daily photo challenges?  Sure, why not.?!

I will create a group on Facebook and we will share our entire month-long journey in there.  I have some fun little daily challenges too, as we follow along with a template.  It’s meant to be fun and a way to keep each other going strong in 2016.  Hopefully everyone forms some sweet new friendships for 2016 too!  Fill out the form below and we can get started!

Fall in love with yourself again!  If you said yes or were nodding your head to any or all of the things I mentioned, then you need to get a little selfish.  I am encouraging it!

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08 January 2016

In Winter, We Don't Slow Down

It's winter. Most of the day, I stay bundled up in layers. When I go work out, most of the time it’s in a cold ass garage every day.  I like to think I'm shivering my way to gains. All choices I made to reach my goals tomorrow.  Nobody said it would be a breeze to get to where I want to be.  Those who have come before me have all paved their own way, fought their own battles.  Currently, mine mostly involves the freezing cold garage.  Oh, and this disgusting cough.

Winter Fluff to Summer Buff - Facebook Group
Right now might seem like the time to chill out, take some time off, "bulk up" on those comfort foods…it all sounds good and like the right thing to do.  Wrong!  Get out of that mindset if you have fitness goals! What ends up happening is you get comfortable, you lose momentum, and your excuses become welcoming options. DO NOT quit a month, a week, a day too soon. It will be worth it, even if it completely sucks right now. 

Let me just say this - goals can be broken down!  It’s best to make smaller goals out of the bigger ones.  Instead of saying “I want to be fit by summertime” be more specific.  “I want to lose X pounds each month” is more realistic.  And that makes a goal for you, in 30 days rather than 6 months or so.  You can build a plan and focus on that for a month, to reach your goal of losing X pounds that month, and do it again the following month.  

Make your goals bite-size and they won’t seem like mountains you’ll never be able to climb.  Oh yeah, and have a positive attitude. 

I paired up with my partner in crime to help push each other and not let each other quit. She started a crazy total-body cardio program, and I'm over here with Hammer & Chisel. They are challenging us, both physically and mentally, and we really NEED the accountability to get us through. A few handfuls of ladies joined us in our Facebook group, because it's 10x better with other people. There's a spot for you, too! Let's build up the momentum and get you through the rest of this winter.

Here’s how:  Send me a friend request on Facebook (danarae.williamson) and shoot me a message either in Facebook messenger or my email address (deedoesitall@gmail.com) stating you want to join.  Easy! 

*No quitting. No regrets.*
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