Crunchy Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies by Arthur’s Flour

I can not tell you how much I love this recipe.  Naturally, as I prepared football snacks for the NFC Championship, I had to make my favorite grab and go dessert.  I found this recipe about 4 years ago when I began to make drastic nutrition changes for a healthier lifestyle, like eating less processed food.  Occasionally, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a batch of these cookies with people outside of my immediate family and they are always shocked to find out that they contain whole grains and healthy oils. (I trade out the oils for my favorite healthy oils) Even if you are not changing your lifestyle, and you’re a cookie lover like me, you will absolutely love this recipe.  Use the link below to check out this delicious treat.

Cruncy Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies

 

Arthur’s Flour is my favorite brand of flour and I use a lot of their recipes to create homemade baked goods.

Oh yea, Go Falcons! #riseup

Maintaining Healthy Routines-Updates

I am so excited!  I made it through the holiday season without totally neglecting my healthy routines and I was able to maintain my weight goal.  Prior to the 2016, I have usually gained at least 5 pounds or more during the holidays, which was a result of overeating and inactivity during my much needed winter break from work.  I went into this break with a well drawn out plan to maintain my healthy routines and committed to it.  My family even got involved and stepped up to the plate to exercise, even on Thanksgiving Day in our hotel’s fitness room. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun, mixing in exercise with our holiday traditions, like walking on the treadmill while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.  As much as I thought staying active during my break would be a drag, we actually had a lot of fun.

In addition to staying active, I also tried to listen to by body more as I ate.   If I felt full later in the day, instead having a second helping any way, I drank a warm beverage or water.  Besides, let’s be honest, holiday meals are very filling and most of the time, we are all really full after one plate. Its just hard to resist the temptation of second helpings.  I also noticed another source of temptation, as we socialized with family, that source was FAMILY.  If you are from the south, I’m sure you’re familiar with southern hospitality and the efforts that aunts, moms, and grandmas put into encouraging the family to partake 2nd & 3rd helpings of food.  Although, I didn’t plan for this temptation, I was able to resist and politely decline.  With all of the success that I had this time around, I plan to continue the same routines for every holiday and vacation for the rest of this year.  If you’re currently looking for ways to update your healthy routines, or if you would like to know more about my holiday health routine, see my previous post, entitled Maintaining Healthy Routines,  October 22nd.

Happy Healthy New Year!

Reese

 

 

Transitioning into Gratefulness & Thanksgiving.

After the last several months of the political season, which featured behavior that was far worst than a late night reality show, I am so glad that the election is over.  I am a little surprised that so many people are shocked by the behaviors during this election and even stunned that racism is so prevalent. When you see behaviors and mindsets on display in larger arenas, such as politics, its just a reflection of the same behaviors taking place in the local communities.  The state of world, country, and communities are at risk for moral decay, not because of the president elect, it was on the decline prior to the latest election season.  The election was painful evidence of the loss of morality, common courtesy, and the declince of love or at the least care and concern for people.  This election season exposed the ugliness that has already been brewing beneath the surface in our country.  Just think about it, how many times in the past 2 years have you encountered selfish people who are only motivated by their own gains. What about people who are rude and wouldn’t be able to define common courtesy if you paid them a million dollars.

Although it is painfully obvious that there are a lot of adults who are self serving and lack empathy for their fellow man, we still have a lot of things that we can do to impart morality, love, and peace into our county.

  1. Don’t get sucked into ugly converstations and mindsets.  Don’t allow people to suck you into conversations that are not equally open to listening  and understanding opposing views.  Live and let live.  Don’t let people influence you into believing ideas or prejudgments about a group of people or their lifestlye.
  2. Be courteous and kind to everyone.  Don’t change like the wind just because you encounter people of diffferent races, religion, etc.  Believe the best in people, regardless of your prejudgements and what you were raised to believe.  It does not hurt anyone to show common courteous to those around you.
  3. Consider others and much as you consider yourself and people in your immediate circle of friends and family. Sometimes we all can get stuck in the habit of only being concerned about the peopole in our own little bubble, especially when we want or need something.  However, its always good to think about how our decisions and actions are going to effect others.
  4. Teach and role model appropriate behavior.  Remember that there are eyes around you who are looking to you for the correct behavior and response to life issues.  Teach our children how to infuse love and peace into our communities.  We can be peaceful and loving and have varying views in life and issues.

The great news is that when you look a little closer at the election and in your community, most people share the same ideas of helping your fellow man and being kind, courteous and generous. In this season of Thankfulness, we all could use a little practice of gratefulness and thanksgiving, after a period of ugly politics and racist antics.  The only way to counter this environment is to spread love and peace. Some people will have to adjust and transition after participating as either as commentator or spectator of a turbulant time.  What better way to transition, than beginning a season of thankfulness.  Try journaling or speaking gratefulness every day for a month and I’m sure you will be on your way to a more peaceful mind and joyful spirit.

My favorite app:  Gratitude Journal- gives you a prompt to create a grateful journal entry every day.  I decided to start this week and continue for at least the remainder of the year.  I’ll share updates on my progress periodically.

Maintaining Healthy Routines

It’s finally here, crisp cool weather, beautiful fall colors, warm fuzzy feelings, and fun fall events.  Along with these pleasantries of fall, comes a host of holidays, and family gatherings, featuring tons of rich, tasty food. Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dressing, potatoes, and Christmas  desserts. These savory decadent meals are continuously paraded in our presence, from October to January. All this wonderful eating can expand our waistline and detour health goals. My main concerns during the holiday season, are eating healthy and maintaining my weight goal.  So now’s the time that I begin to evaluate my current exercise routine and equip myself with a plan to both enjoy and limit my intake of holiday foods.

trick_o_treats_91419           23479467985_b0b615a9c2_m

Oddly enough, I am also on a new budget, as my husband and I prepare to renovate our home.  With my financial budget in mind I revamped my routine and created an exercise routine around the end of 2015.  My new routine is both affordable and convenient, considering my busy schedule.  In the past I have frequently mixed in DVD programs, along with trips to the gym, and 3 mile walks at our local park.  Most of my current exercise routine is done at home, using FREE DVD exercise programs.

The following plan, routine, and exercise programs have helped me stay on track and will continue being the foundation for maintaining my health goals.

  • I will partake of the holiday feasts, limiting my intake of high calorie foods.  On a regular basis I use the 80/20 rule when eating.  I eat healthy 80% of the time and give myself a break about 20% of the time.  This calculation is over the span of a week and and definitely not  an every day routine.  Giving myself a break has definitely helped me not be so uptight about food and the provides opportunities to enjoy some of my favorite foods during family outings and events.  As soon as, I’m finished with the 20% break, I immediately get back on track, starting with plenty of fruit defused water.  I will definitely apply this rule during the holidays and try to fill up on mostly fruit and vegetables, instead of high calorie carbs.

17332288838_37594abfd0_m

  • My exercise routine consists of 3 days of cardio and 2 days of strengthening, which is usually consists of brisks walks, aerobic exercise, and/or dance aerobics.  My choice for toning is mostly Pilates or free weight toning routines.  I try to squeeze Yoga in as well because it keeps my muscles stretched, which prevents the occasional pinched nerve pain that I’ve had in the past.  I can say that consistently sticking to this routine has definitely decreased my injury spasms and has helped me maintain my weight goal.  I will definitely stick with this routine at for at least the next year.
  • My current exercise programs are very affordable, thanks to the gold mind of FREE resources found at our public library system.  If you have never inquired about the exercise programs available at your own local public library, let me be the first to tell you, YOU SHOULD. Especially if you live in an area where healthy living is the new normal, your public library may have a wealth of resources available.  I have been fortunate enough to find and partake of unlimited amounts of exercise programs available on DVD in our library system and here are a few of my favorites:  Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home (take your pick, low impact, brisk walks), Pilates-any video will do but be sure to start with a beginner’s first, Zumba, Tia Mowry Yoga (great for beginner level), Tara Stiles Yoga.

Whatever your health goals are this holiday season, remember to find some balance and enjoy time with your family and friends.  Maintaining your health goals is a priority but enjoying life and pleasure are important too.  Be balanced.  Sometimes being so rigid about your diet and lifestyle can affect you in a negative way and those around you.  If you indulge  too much, you will live to see another day and start over.  Share your tips and encouragement here on my blog or with those around you.  We all can use extra help during this very tempting time of year.

Happy Eating and Well Living!!!

 

Back To School

After a monsoon of back to school planning, shopping, scheduling, and reorganizing, I find it difficult to find myself some times.  Time seems to pass like a blur the first month of school and among the chaos lies my pastimes and hobbies.  Some how I always manage to pull myself together after about a month and with tedious planning and organizing, my family is back into the full swing of the school schedule and activities.

beautiful-cup-clock-vintage-photography-pocket-watch-pretty-favim_com-364117

So I thought I would share a few of my favorite tools to keep myself and my family on track during the school year.

Keeping track of everyone’s activities and events, including academic, social, and extracurricular activities, is by far the hardest routine to adjust too.  Not to mention my own career as an educator and personal life, mom, and wife.  Here are a few of my favorite tools during this hectic time of year.

  1.  Screen Time Lab: After a summer of FREE screen time, it can be difficult to get my kids to focus and limit their screen time.  This app has been a lifesaver for me during the school year.  Screen Time allows parents to block games and apps on electronic devices.  You have the ability to create scheduled screen time around the your child’s school and bedtime.  I have used this app for at least 2 years and it is perfect tool for helping my teens stay focused and on task during busy school evenings.
  2. Remind 101- This app is a trick of the trade for educators.  Students can join their teacher’s class on this app and receive reminders for homework, test, or any school related activities.  Of course using this tool is optional for students and teachers, however, I think it is very valuable for students especially those  who actively participate in extracurricular activities and/or rigiourous courses.
  3. Myfitnesspal app:  It’s very tempting to slack off on exercise when my life becomes very busy.  However, this  app has truly been very helpful with maintaining my health goals.  I really try to kick up the efforts to input my meals and exercise during the Back To School season, and I can definitely see the benefits of self staying committed to my goals.
  4. Fitbit device & app:   I have found this device to be beneficial to my fitness goals.  Combining this device with exercise, food, and activity goals seems to be the key to success.  With my hectic schedule, 1 out of 3 of the goals are bound to be neglected every now and then.  For example, if I can’t squeeze in 50 minutes of exercise, I will take extra steps beyond my step goal to ensure that I am getting adequate activities in to burn calories.

No matter how busy your life gets as a mom, take the time to get organized and find tools that are resourceful for your family and your own personal goals.  There are hundreds of resourceful apps that may assist you in daily activities, these are just a few of my favorites.

Natural Hair Tips

20151223_101024

 

In the month of June, I celebrated 6 years of beautiful natural hair and I couldn’t be happier.  Trust and believe the natural hair journey has not been all roses.  There have been a lot of trial and errors and the reevaluating of my hair regime changes periodically as well.  Even still, I can not see myself using a perm ever again at this point in my life.  In honor of my hair anniversary, I wanted to share my most successful resources, products, and tips.  For years now, my co-workers, family, and even strangers have bombarded me with questions and tips for successful maintenance of their natural hair.  I decided I would begin sharing my most prized tips and resources, here on my blog, Pinterest, and my brand new YouTube channel (COMING SOON! details provided later this month).

Lessons Learned

  1. There is no such thing as a miracle product.  Although, I have never really had this idea, I am often asked questions by others which give voice to this type of thinking. We each have our own unique type of hair that comes from our set of genetics.  The right products will enhance the hair texture that each of us have.
  2. Natural hair products are not “one size fit all”. Products may work well for one person and horribly for others.  Finding the right products requires some trial and error.  Finding a blogger or friend with similar texture is a great starting place for resources.  I would not be experiencing success with my natural hair without the amazing women that share their tips in various blogs, vlogs, books, and websites
  3. Work with your hair, don’t let your hair work you.  Finding a regime that works well for your hair and lifestyle is the key to hair happiness.
  4. Bad hair days are real! Some days my hair just doesn’t cooperate with what I want to do.  Find your favorite go to hair styles and use them when you’re having a bad hair day.

Current Regime

My regime includes the LOC method, which helps keep my hair moisturized throughout the week.  I stick with the following regime throughout most of the year with the exception of Winter and when I go swimming.

  • I wash my hair at the end of week & hydrate midweek with a moisturizer and my trusty Q-Redew if needed.
  •  Co-wash after swimming only.  (Stay tuned for details of how to protect and revive hair when swimming)
  • Week 1: Shampoo, Daily Conditioner
  • Week 2: Shampoo, Daily Conditioner
  • Week 3: Shampoo, Daily conditioner
  • Week 4: Clarifying Shampoo, DC
  • Detangle hair while sopping wet with water and conditioner, using Tangle Teeter or fingers. I only use the finger method when wearing a “wash & go”.
  • Style using the LOC method, typically wearing flat twist outs or simple “wash & go” with banding method.
  • Henna every 2 months
  • I use gel to combat humidity sometimes, however, I prefer to use my favorite styling creams most of the time.
  • My night routine consists of moisturizing and sleeping with chunky twists or the pineapple method, always with a satin scarf or bonnet.

Current Products

  • Elucence Clarifying Shampoo
  • Camille Rose Naturals Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse-trying for a period of time
  • Eden Bodyworks All Natural Cleaning Cowash
  • CURLS Coconut Sublime Moisturizing Conditioner (Daily Conditioner)
  • Camille Rose Coconut Water Penetrating Hair Treatment (Deep Conditioner)
  • Camille Rose Algae Deep Conditioner (Deep Conditioner) alternate for previous if its not available in stores.
  • Camille Rose Naturals Coconut Water Leave-In
  • Garden of Life Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Camille Rose Coconut Water Style Setter
  • Camille Rose Curl Maker (gel styler)

I am currently using several Camille Rose products after sampling various products from this line over a period of time.  I began adding more products from this line to my regime last year, resulting in fabulously moisturized coils.

To view these lovely products, visit my Pinterest page, where I have pinned all of these products and tools under “Beautiful Products”.

Stay tuned for my swimming hair regime and favorite summer beauty products.

 

 

 

 

Sweet 16-Sweet Anniversary

My husband and I recently celebrated our 16th anniversary and its was definitely a sweet 16 celebration.  There is a point when your marriage hits the “sweet spot”. After adjusting to the various challenges of forming a new partnership, you eventually “hit the sweet spot”in your marriage”.  During this time period, couples have adjusted to cohabiting, forming a new partnership, and have truly committed to at least learning to be selfless. The sweet spot is defined as an optimum point or combination of factors or qualities that are great for success. There are definitely a combination of factors that contribute to having a sweet and happy marriage.

We are often asked what the secret is to having longevity and happiness in marriage.  This question is definitely a loaded question and would probably require a 30 minute conversation.  Here’s a few summed up secrets that both my husband and I think are great factors for a forever sweet marriage:

  1. Continue being true friends, true partners, and truly in love.
  2. Develop a selfless mindset.  Move far, far away from selfish motives by thinking of your spouse 1st in all endeavors. Do what’s best for all parties and not just yourself.
  3. Whatever you did to get him/her, continue in those things.
  4. Try to outdo each other with affection and loving gestures.  This is not always a monetary act  or a competition, it defines how you treat each other every day.
  5. Women: Show honor and respect all day every day.  When you are having a moment simply just not feeling it, take a break and go out with your girls or enjoy your favorite hobby or pastime. Some time away will bring perspective to the situation and refresh you.
  6. Men:  Be affectionate and provide security and honor your wife.  Lead with love like Jesus, don’t lead with an iron fist.  Be a true partner in all things but learn to lead your family like a compassionate CEO.
  7. Partnerships don’t require outside commentary.  Don’t involve your family and friends in personal and sensitive issues or decisions that should be made jointly with your spouse.  If necessary seek professional and/or spiritual advice, which doesn’t have to be one on one.  There are a lot of great books written by reliable sources, just make sure that the author/expert are experienced in what they have written about.  For example: don’t seek advice from the person that continues to fail in marriage but writes a book on how to be successful in marriage. However, you can trust the word of a changed person.  This person may have some valuable lessons to offer.

I hope these tips offer you great advice and bring you and your significant other a little dose of sweetness.

Prince, deeper than the music…

prince-guitar

“Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life…” Prince

My love for Prince goes deeper than the music.  He was the epitome of confidence and having a healthy self-esteem.  While growing up as a teen, I dealt with my own self-esteem issues as teens normally do.  Prince was that constant reminder to me that it was okay to be different and follow your own path.  His eccentric personality was attractive and amazing.  He was so creative in his appearance and music and managed to stay consistently the same throughout the totality of his life.  Prince had a unique ability to surge his creativity throughout everything he did, from the clothes, to the music and even as a writer, producer, & singer.

Throughout the years, there have been several artist that fought for their right to own their music and identities.  No one fought with the creative genius seen in Prince’s battle.  I chuckle now, just thinking about how he even took control of his identity during a situation that  could have been devastating to his career.  His ability to own that moment, continue touring and making music, was inspiring.  Some may say he was controlling but I think its the highest form of self-love, to want to take ownership in your career and artistry.

Although there were a lot of things that I loved about Prince, that were deep, such as his humor, intelligence, and overall kindness, I would be lying if I didn’t mention the obvious.  Prince was the essence of SEXY.  As many women will say, he is probably the only man that can wear mascara, straight hair, and heels, and still manage to be a sexy man.  Even his love for women was attractive.  He was also good at being mysterious, leaving his adoring fans wanting more.  In some way, he was able to maintain the mystery of her personal life and even make it a part of his sex appeal.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a huge fan of Prince.  My heart aches now and I can’t sleep.  I always knew I would have a serious meltdown when he passed. All I can do is think about all of the wonderful music, movies, and documented concerts I’ve enjoyed over the years.  Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of attending a live concert, which I am regretting every minute that has gone by since his passing.  For me, the timing was never right.  I am still a fan nonetheless, even beyond the popular, more notorious music.  I love some of those rare finds that my older cousin introduced me to when I was about 14 years old.  Above all, I loved the music.  As many have said, he was a prolific musician and no one will ever compare.  As we move towards celebrating his life, I hope that those responsible for his memorial, will carefully consider the artists chosen to honor him in song.  Although, there is no replacement, please choose wisely.