Inspiration from So Cal

It’s been about six years since I last visited the beaches of Southern California. But once you visit this area of Northern America, you never forget it. The white sandy beaches warm your toes up through your soul and the beautiful sunsets falling behind the large crashing waves are visions you take home and dream about.

Day two in Anaheim was filled with inspiration. And we ended it with a trip to Huntington Beach where everyone just seems relaxed and happy.

Yesterday I learned about the 36th clinical research study done on Juice Plus and how it showed DNA was positively altered in over 1,600 genes in overweight adults that controlled metabolic health and inflammatory cells . But yesterday was more than research-based facts. It was a day filled with inspiration. A day that I listened to wives, moms, husbands, cancer survivors, doctors and researchers all share their stories of how and why they said yes to changing their lifestyle when they were at their most vulnerable moment, moments where they were filled with doubt, but acted anyways. Here are my top #OMW [oh my word!] inspirational takeaways from yesterday:

#OMW No. 1: Caring for others is hard work. It’s also heart work.
We kicked off the morning with a praise and worship breakfast. Yes, you read that right. There are thousands of Juice Plus representatives that are believers, and it warms my heart. Nicole Unice, author of Brave Enough, spoke about grace as the catalyst for bravery. From the crippled man who was lowered down into the home where Jesus was teaching [Luke 5: 17] to his fishermen disciples troubled in rough waters [Mark 4: 35] – we all have fear inside that is buried at different levels. But the more we let grace in the less room there is for fear. Unice reminded the crowd that we have one single ask from Jesus … to love others. When you love others, you care for them. And anyone who is a caretaker knows it is HARD work. But it’s also HEART work. When I think about why I’m even here, at this nutrition conference, that’s what it’s ultimately about – caring for others. If a friend knew of something that I should be doing [ahem, taking care of my temple of God] and ideas as to how, telling me and encouraging me is shows love.

#OMW No. 2: Long term vision, short term goals.
Dream big and believe. Sounds so easy, right? If you’re anything like me, I go from dreaming big to reality crashes and I know that’s because I still allow the enemy to inject fear. Jay Martin, founder and CEO of Juice Plus, is of my grandparent’s generation – in my opinion, the hardest working generation of our time. I find many millennials expect instant gratification. Now, I think there are various reasons as to why, some reasonable and some not, but that’s for another blog post. What I took from Martin and a beautiful wife and mother of four children who is a breast cancer survivor was that you absolutely have to have, write, and say your goals, and then you need to consistently put in work to get them. It’s an easy concept, but not many do it.

#OMW No. 3: Get a system.
When you know what you are going after, you have to get a system in place to achieve it. A system marries up well with the whole consistency thing. I think back to my college basketball days when I was told I needed to work on my lateral foot speed after my freshman year. I consistently jumped rope, did ladders and other exercises that summer. I vividly remember my coaches being impressed with my improvement when I got back on campus in the Fall. Whatever goals you have, you will surely fall short unless you get a system in place and consistently put in work toward achieving them.

Say yes, it just might be worth it

Well, I said yes when I usually would have said no. You all have that friend who sells that stuff. Ya … those people. Ten months ago, I was tired of my post-baby internal and external body and said yes to a free nutrition talk from a Miami-based pediatrician. Sixty minutes of hearing and seeing alarming, research-based healthcare and nutrition stats – was all it took for me to start asking people around my table, “So, do you guys take this Juice Plus stuff? And does it reallllllly work?”

Fast forward 10 months later, my entire family has increased our whole-food nutrition intake and decreased the processed junk that we were addicted to with the help of the Juice Plus mission – inspiring healthy living around the world. And now, I’m meeting men and women with miraculous stories from all walks of life in Anaheim, California at the Juice Plus national conference.

Here are my three health #OMW [oh my word] moments from day one:

#OMW No. 3: You can’t compete with what you eat.

I’m a former Division 1 college basketball player. I still play, and work out regularly – running, high-intensity circuit training, spinning, etc – and while I know the best nutrition to eat, I didn’t always chose it, and thought I could get away with that because I exercised hard. I had the honor of listening to Dr. David Phillips – a physician, Harvard graduate and former Ironman World Championship triathlete. Before taking JP and while on a strict nutrition regiment, he would struggle during the same parts of his training regiment and often got sick along with his training partners. When he finally got on Juice Plus, his next Ironman was a personal record and his muscle recovery was faster than he had every experienced. He started noticing he wasn’t getting sick anymore and his training got kicked up a notch. Because Juice Plus is predigested and gets into the blood stream within 20 minutes, it helped decrease his oxidative stress. Guys, if you’ve never heard about oxygen, free radicals and oxidative stress and how they affect the body, here’s an article with the easiest, shortest explanation.

Side note … How it’s made: Because Juice Plus is non GMO, NSF certified (better than organic!) and picked vine ripped from it’s own farms, it will always provide a health benefit that you can’t get through produce at your local grocery store.

#OMW No. 2: You aren’t held captive by your DNA

Research shows we have the power to change our DNA for up to two generations … seriously … just do a quick Google search! We’re only stuck with one-third of the genes our families gave us and the other two-thirds can be altered through lifestyle. Something we actually have a CHOICE over! I SO wish I would have known this during my three pregnancies. My diet would have been completely different. Juice Plus is the most researched nutrition product in the WORLD, with 37 clinical research studies, 20 of which are published in peer-reviewed medical journals with an average impact score approaching 110 (industry average impact score in this field ranges from 0-5!). As a personal skeptic of the universe, that was a game changer for me. This company has a narrow but deep focus on its mission which gives customers confidence that they, and those they surround themselves with, are the experts in this field.

#OMW No. 1: Research shows Omega fatty acid deficiency in diets

Juice Plus has been around 25 years, and for the first time in 15 years they are launching a new product – a plant-based Omega blend. Because research has shown a large deficiency of Omega fatty acids in diets, the company has spent the last two years researching and coming up with its newest product – the Omega Blend. This is a plant-based, oil-based blend of Omega 3, 5, 6 and 7. Think fish oil, without the fish, and with more Omegas. Because there have been so many chemicals found in fish, Juice Plus has taken out the “middle man” and gone straight to the source. The vegetarian capsule includes six whole food plant sources: algae, pomegranate seeds, sea buckthorn berries, raspberry seeds, tomato seeds and safflower seeds where the omega’s are found at their purest and most sustainable.

Saying yes was an uncomfortable answer 10 months ago, but it was the right one. Signing off from Anaheim, for now!

Spring in SA

The best weather in San Antonio always seems to roll in around this time of year. Spring in San Antonio provides fresh blooms, sunshine and a nice breeze – perfect for any outdoor activity, even swimming. Yes, I said swimming in March.

I love going to the local nursery this time of year. Scents of herbs and plants fill the breeze and your lungs fill your lungs as you walk up and down the rows. It’s the most colorful place to go, too.

Every Spring we plant vegetables in our small outdoor garden. This year, we’re growing cherry tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini and sweet peppers. For the first time, we planted bulbs in the front yard and after just a few weeks, they are already sprouting. It will be a joy to see the kids’ reaction when they bloom later this Summer, and serve as a reminder that when you plant something good, nurture it and remain patient, the result will be something beautiful.

 

Lastly, a Spring cleaning check in. I have successfully purged and organized about 85% of our property. Still to go, the kitchen and bathroom drawers. Not bad, right?! Thus far, my personal favorite part has been tackling my wardrobe. I conducted a bit of a clothing capsule, donating about 70 percent, and it was beyond necessary. After having three kids in the last five years, I had no business keeping clothing from over a decade ago that, quite honestly, belong on a 20-year-old. Let’s leave it at that.

Less is more, and provides much more room for things that matter – like using our closet that now looks twice as big for a hide and go seek destination.

 

Survive and Advance

It’s the greatest time of year for college basketball fans – March Madness! A time where we get to watch 18 to 21 year-olds be a part of history, create memories that will turn into stories for their grand kids and fight for that one shinning moment … the moment on the ladder, cutting down the nylon, hosting up the championship trophy.

For nearly two decades, these men and women have trained to get to this stage. Only two percent of them will make it to the professional level, while the rest will hang on to these memories as the grand finale of their basketball careers. As a former college athlete, I can verify that these days, the college days, stay with you forever. Preseason training, two-a-days, weights and conditioning, extra conditioning, max-out sessions, grueling practices, conference tournaments and training room recovery sessions – what goes on during those four years while wearing that University jersey is what I remember most 10 years later.

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Friday afternoon I took a back route home in order to stop by a local nursery to pick up some vegetables for our garden. As I drove past the subdivision I grew up in, I spotted an old ice house. It was the ice house that my dad would make my sister and I run to for summer-time conditioning. I couldn’t help but think of the old adage for this time of year … survive and advance. Those runs were held in the heat of  Texas summers. They weren’t easy, nor enjoyable, especially for someone who was not a fan of long distance running.

Here I am, 10 years later, married with three kids and I find survive and advance is equally as relative as my days on the hardwood floor. Whether it’s getting through nine interviews in one week for two positions – yes, that just happened – or juggling the needs of three kids ages five and under every weekend, it’s all about surviving the day, advancing through the phase. Sports taught me how to remain disciplined in adulthood and that everything – every stage, every temper tantrum, every big project, every holiday – is temporary, and seconds later, merely a memory.

My dad wasn’t just training us for cross country, volleyball, basketball and track during those middle school days, he was training us for life. Sometimes, you have to do things you don’t like to do, and often times those things are character-shaping activities. So whether you are working through shaping healthy appetites in toddlers or pushing yourself to run that last mile as you train for a marathon, just remember if your can survive the phase, you’re advancing to the next stage.

 

Dinning Room Do-Over

By Vanessa Meyer, guest blogger

Y’all I am so excited to share my dining room makeover with you!  Well, let’s be honest it was not really a makeover … more like a successful attempt to finally decorate after living in our house for nearly two years.

But first, a bit about me. I’m a working wife and mom to four young children. When it comes to shopping, I’m frugal, the belle of bargains and a sucker for DIY projects. Together with my dad, we’ve built our entry-way bench, a toy storage unit and two twin beds for my middle boys. Between marriage, kids and work, it goes without saying that spare time doesn’t present itself much. So this year, I decided to take a few days off for Spring Break with my kids and transform our dining room.

First up … window treatments. We have one large window in our dining room and I dread spending money on curtain rods and drapes. It gets so expensive, especially when you have a TON of windows. I found a great pin for DIY curtain rods and after a trip to Home Depot and a phone call to my dad, viola!

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I wanted simple, plain white curtains. I found these 108” curtains at Kohl’s on sale for $24.99, plus I had an extra 30% off coupon!  A quick search on Amazon pulled up these curtain rings that I’ve been able to use for multiple window coverings.

With a neutral window covering, pops of color were calling my name. I love vintage floral prints and found some great ones on Etsy, but hello price tag! I turned to my fav, [yep, you guessed it!] Pinterest and found some amazing vintage floral prints for free [insert pat on back]. I printed them at Staples – a much cheaper route for printing than local print shops – and bought these frames on sale at Michael’s.

I was happy with my prints, but the room still felt like it was missing some color. To help achieve a more open concept, we partially tore down the wall between our living and dining room when we first moved in. It left us with a small, angled wall in the dining room that I never loved, but live with. This was my chance to use the wall to dress up the room.

During our trip to the Silos, I spotted the magnolia leaf wreath often used on Fixer Upper episodes. Shell shocked at the $99 price tag, I confidently turned away knowing I could find something similar for half the price. Back home, I turned to my faithful craft store, Hobby Lobby, which did not disappoint. I found this magnolia wreath for $50 and used my 40 percent-off coupon, purchasing it at just $30! Coupled with an antique mirror I bought from Hobby Lobby last year, (find a similar one here) and some wire to hang the two, my walls were complete.

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Finally, I wanted to add a live plant because, you know, that’s what self-proclaimed interior decorates do. It was off to Lowe’s with the hubby. I found THE PERFECT indoor plant called Bird of Paradise.  I told him how much it was – $70. Never at a loss for words, he declared we were not paying $70 for a plant I was going to kill in a month. So, I decided I would start smaller [ahem…cheaper] with a cane plant that’s nearly impossible to kill and a cute basket from Home Goods to place it in (find a similar one here.).

Once in its place, I quickly realized the cane plant wasn’t cutting it. So, I swapped out the original plant I was forced to buy picked with a fiddle leaf fig tree from a local nursery in San Antonio.

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Here’s a final picture of our new dinning room.  Hope you got some home décor inspiration!

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Spring cleaning

All it took was a quick read of the new Magnolia Journal and a shift in season for the annual spring cleaning itch to kick in.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been going room by room, cleaning, purging, donating and organizing, and it’s been refreshing. The sweet volunteer at my local Salvation Army knows me by name.

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The “after” picture. The “before” picture didn’t make it because a pile of blankets fell on top of me when I opened the door.

The name of the game … simplify. Ironically, my mom heard a message in church recently around happiness – and that it does not come from materialistic items. I’d venture to guess those with less are happier than those with more.

As I stack up the donation piles with things gone unused for months, even years, I find myself cleaning out my thoughts. Holding on to things we don’t need can be a tough habit to break, but an immature one to keep. As I prepare for Easter, I’m reminded of what’s recorded that Christ owned. A true minimalist who spent his spare time, outside of carpenter work, and likely all of his money, traveling around spreading the Good News.

Life sure comes a lot easier with less choices. My hope is that something as small as creating less choices on what to wear will free up a few extra minutes each morning to maintain my commitment to read the Bible.

What are you cleaning out this Spring?

For the love

I used to despise reading assignments followed up with book report assignments in middle and high school. To the point where [confession time] I would just skim a few chapters and create a crafty ‘review’ honing in on only the content I knew I could speak to if the teacher asked any follow-up questions.

Isn’t it ironic himg_8436ow we change as we grow up? Now, I’m about to tell you three reasons why you need to stop whatever it is you are doing, pull up Amazon and order Jen Hatmaker’s For the Lovemid read!

No. 3
Run your race. After reading 10 chapters, this is the best way I can describe the underlined theme of this book. Hatmaker is spicy, witty and has no shame calling out the absurdities we face in America as working women, wives, moms and Christians. She does us all a favor and says, in black ink, what we all silently think and burry deep down in fear of neglect or rejection from society, and then tells us why it’s absolutely insane to cave into the nonsense [and by golly we might be overworked, overtired, overstimulated moms but we are not insane]. Sometimes, ok a lot of times, you just need a good book to remind you of this lesson.

No. 2
School-aged mamas, this one’s for you. We’re six months away from our oldest entering kindergarten, but all three attend a ‘mom’s day out’ type of place three days a week. Hatmaker’s Surviving School chapter had me in tears. If you need to pull yourself out of the educational freenzie for a breath, hardy laugh and a reminder that if your child doesn’t like you all the time, you are doing a darn good job, this one’s for you! Here’s a sneak peek:

“Moms, I can barely speak of what Pintrest has done to us here. Between bento boxes with sandwiches cut into the shape of dolphins leaping into a sea of kale, and spraying our kids’ feet with lemon essential oils to soothe their troubles, I just can’t even …”

No. 1
Three words … THANK YOU NOTES. Yes, the Jimmy Fallon kind, only mommy-ized. Let me dangle two carrots in front of you, because one of these entries simply won’t suffice.

“Thank you obvious warning labels. Without you I might have stuck my kid in a washing machine, lit a match near an open gas line, used my hair dryer while sleeping, or, God forbid, not realized eggs may contain – wait for it – eggs. I have no idea how I ever functioned without you. (I almost ingested the contents of a lava lamp just yesterday, but your label made another quick save. God bless.)”

“Thank you, Miss ‘Could you bring me these pants in a size 2?’for finding the dressing room adjacent to mine no matter when or where I try on clothes. You keep me humble. I also appreciate hearing how my size shirt ‘swallows you.’ And yes, we all know how ‘cold you are in here’ without any natural insulation. Eat a sandwich.”

 

Moms gone Waco

Between the two of us, we have seven children, all under age 10. So when an opportunity for a single-day, moms-only trip to Chip & Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market Silos presented itself … you better believe your shiplap me and one of my besties, V, took it!

Fifteen hours and 350 miles later, it’s safe to say we created some memories to last a lifetime.

Let’s start with a PSA … do NOT stay in a Temple hotel directly off of IH-35. Can you say Breaking Bad?! After five minutes on the hotel property, that shall remain nameless, we were darting back to our car. I’m not sure if it was the man from the streets roaming around the rooms when we first pulled up, the front desk associate asking for the make and model of my car, or the fact that the entire property, inside and out, looked like it belonged on a murder/detective show, but we gladly donated our hotel fee and – V’s pillow – and never looked back.

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After making it to Waco safe and sound, we settled in to a much safer hotel and slept in … until SEVEN A.M.! Can’t tell you the last time that happened.

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By 8 a.m. we were on our way to the Silos ready to enjoy a breakfast treat from the Bakery.

After we parked a block away, we heard a train coming. It was picturesque of the small, quaint town and something I’m sure the HGTV production crew would have loved to capture. An old train rolling through downtown with the Silos in the background. By the time we realized the train was on the tracks that were 10 yards in front of us, it gave us just enough time to sprint across before we got stopped by the railroad crossing gate. Someone give be a cinnamon roll already.

Ahhhh, the Silos. V put it best – it’s an adult Disney Land. Everyone is ridiculous friendly, and genuinely happy to work there and have you visiting. From the moment you step on the property you can’t help but notice the details – a signature trait of Joanna Gaines. The music magically makes the crowd seem tolerable, the market’s setup attracts camera phones of all types snapping away ideas for homes across the country, and the outdoor space allows for swinging, lounging, eating, running kicking and throwing.

An hour-ish later, we headed to visit Harp Design Co. located in a small but sweet location or a residential area where you can hear him – or someone from his team – working in the back.

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Then, it was back toward the Silos to visit The Findery – an adorable shop filled with home goods, furniture, light fixtures and apparel.

Downtown Waco is charming. You can’t help but notice the architecture of the old buildings – many with stain glass. We grabbed lunch from a BBQ food truck at the Silos and then headed back to San Antonio – but not before buying a few cupcakes for the road which are worth every penny of their $3.50 price!

A Rodeo Surprise

It’s been well over 20 years since I’ve been to a rodeo. I mean the real rodeo – not just the grounds and carnival portion. Last night, I ventured out with our two oldest kiddos – J and M – to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo to watch the real deal.

We were able to see some live stock and enjoy several carnival rides for a few hours before the big show. Once we climbed to the top of the AT&T Center – yes, climbed, with a three and five-year old – we settled in our seats just in time to watch the grand entry.

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Dozens of beautiful horses nailed the opening choreographed number with cowboys and cowgirls leading them around the pin proudly carrying American and Texas flags. It was military night – so the MC proudly recognized military men and women in attendance followed by the unthinkable. An opening prayer!  Ya’ll, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rode kicks off their event – where people from around the world, yes world, come to compete – with a prayer, praising our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Chills bolted through every cell of my body. Pride and grace flooded my eyes in the form of water. I wish there was a way to explain in words the way I felt at that moment last night.

Every day I see and hear  disrespect and hate spewing from the mouths and fingers of my fellow Americans – most on TV and the internet – and some days, it’s enough to make me wonder if we will ever, as a united country, come back to Christ. But, last night I was filled with hope that I had lost. Never would I have thought a large, public event would be so bold as to pray first and then honor the country where God purposely put us. A place that allows that kind of public praise, provides freedoms of all kinds and supports healthy competition for men and women.

The rodeo itself was phenomenal. My favorite events were the bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull racing. These men are legitimately insane. To willingly get on the most athletic, bucking horses and bulls to see how long you can hang on in the proper position requires some big cojones! If you live near a town that holds a rodeo I strongly encourage you to attend. It’s an incredible experience.

I definitely plan to support this event, which supports our family’s beliefs, every year. Kudos to you, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, for being bold!

 

Pancakes and Halles

You know that time the best breakfast spot in town decided to build a barn-inspired reception hall next door? Ya, me either. Until today. I stumbled upon my future front door at the most adorable, and likely newest, event Halle in San Antonio!

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If you live in or around San Antonio you should be very familiar with the infamous Magnolia Pancake Haus. Just two short months ago, they opened up the Magnolia Halle right next to their Huebner location.

With its warm, Texas, rustic-inspired theme, you might have thought you landed in a surrounding city like Hondo or Castroville. The large windows around the venue, floor-to-ceiling white rock gas fireplace, iron accents and barn-style bathroom doors make you want to kick up your cowboy boots and get ready to party at a country-chic wedding reception.

Kudos to the local pancake masters for making this bold and smart business move. I foresee the venue booking up very fast! And if you haven’t done so already, try out their jambalaya omelet … it’s a household favorite!