Believing in Better Tomorrows

Wherever you might be today, I hope your day is going well and if it’s not, I hope you see the hope and promise of tomorrow, as I try to do on particularly challenging days. As you might know if you’ve read my blog previously, I’m constantly searching for inspiration, even in the most unlikely places. Though, most often, I tend to find inspiring quotes and food for thought on mediums such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and in magazines/books. Relatively often, I noticed fellow “friends” on Facebook and Twitter posting or sharing the quotes and thoughts of SimpleReminders.com. Perhaps you’re already familiar with them and are aware of their consistent posts throughout each day, but if you’re not, they are one site I’ve taken quite a liking to. About two days ago, I took the time to scroll through their Twitter feed, easily becoming enthralled with all they shared.

With that being said, I felt compelled to share it with others, such as fellow readers who might not have seen their posts, and it is my hope that someone might feel as inspired as me after reading some of them (NOTE: Not all are from SimpleReminders.com, but many are):

“The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.”

“Life is a mural that you create. Every action you take is another brush stroke. Make yours beautiful.”

“True friends are those rare people who come to find you in dark places and lead you back into the light.”

“Be the girl/guy who decided to go for it.”

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“Flowers grow back, even after they are stepped on. So will I. Resilience.”

“Not everything faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

“Use your eyes to see the needs, and use your talents to meet them.”

“Love is not what you say. Love is what you do.”

Garden Quote

 

Body by the Letter: A “TODAY” Anchor’s Words of Wisdom

For a number of years, I’ve been a dedicated fan of the NBC daily morning news program, The TODAY Show. In fact, as a middle-schooler, I can recall spending many mornings with my mom and sister seated at the kitchen table with Matt Lauer and Katie Couric‘s faces greeting us with their pleasant and often, witty banter. As the years passed, I wouldn’t watch the show as often as previously and for a brief period of time, switched to their competitor program on ABC. However, years later as an adult, I again switched, this time exclusively, to watching The TODAY Show. Throughout the past few years, I’ve come to truly love the anchors and the overall program. The messages and stories discussed on air are often inspiring, engaging and reach parts of me I often failed to recognize or acknowledge.

Savannah and Matt

Many of the anchors are filled with inspiring thoughts and pertinent knowledge, though as I laid in bed last night, unable to quickly fall asleep, I perused through my Facebook newsfeed and capturing my eye was one of the best messages I quite frankly have read in awhile. With that being said, I couldn’t let a day pass without sharing it with whomever may be reading at this moment. Perhaps you’ve already seen or heard about it, but if not, please take a moment, if you can, to read it, because the underlying message and premise of it is one that deeply resonates with me and could quite possibly resonate with you, as well.

The following (copied from the official TODAY Show website) is a letter drafted by current TODAY Show anchor, Savannah Guthrie, who is the mother of two children – almost 3-year-old Vale and an infant son, Charlie. The letter is to Vale, with Savannah sharing her words of wisdom in line with Love Your Body week, a series of segments regarding body love on The TODAY Show:

Savannah and Vale           Savannah and Family

My dearest Vale,

I’m writing this letter to you because we are doing a series called, “Love Your Body” week. I will confess just to you: That is something I have never been very good at doing. But I’m hoping I can teach you to be different. I hope that as you grow up, I can teach you to love and embrace the miraculous physical vessel that is carrying your magnificent heart and soul.

You don’t know this yet, but our society is pretty obsessed with body image. Before too long (it’s inevitable) you’ll be bombarded with images of perfection almost nobody can attain. If you’re like me, and so many women, you’ll be tempted to judge yourself, to compare yourself, to berate yourself, to doubt yourself. I hope somehow I can equip you to withstand this assault on your confidence.

I want you to love your body, not because of how thin or tall or pretty you may grow up to be, but because it is truly a miracle. God made you; you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as the famous old scripture says.

It is only natural to care about our physical appearance, and I’m not idealistic enough to think I could prevent that. But when you think about your body, let’s think not about how it looks, but about all the things it can do. Let’s think about your strength and your endurance. Let’s be unendingly grateful for your good health and never take it for granted. Be kind to your body, respect it and treat it well — this is the only one you’ll be getting.

And just so you know — you are, in fact, quite beautiful. I love your crazy golden curls, your gigantic blue eyes, your sweet cheeks and that super-wattage smile that lights up the world. But what is most lovely about you radiates from your inside out: your joy, your brightness, your warmth and your irrepressible spirit. That is why I’m so very proud of you.

Love,

Mom

Savannah and Family 2

As I read this letter, countless sentiments and emotions were summoned inside of me. How desperately I wished I could have read this letter years ago, as a vulnerable teen trapped in a word of self-pity, judgment and failure to feel as though I was “enough.” So often, it is true that we focus on what our bodies look like instead of what they can do, or what they are capable of doing. Sometimes, when I find myself in the midst of judging my appearance, I try to think of all the ways my body is able to support and carry me. My arms allow me to lift Oliver, my elderly dog up the stairs from outside; they allow me to lift my niece out of her high-chair, or onto my lap. My legs carry me from place to place and allow me to help open doors for others who cannot. In so many ways, my body has helped me and though I often take it for granted, or tend to focus on the way it appears on the outside, how important a message to be reminded, by Savannah, in this letter to her daughter. Everyday, I wish for others who may be younger than me, the same age, or even older or unborn, for peace with their bodies; for the ability to see their body for all its strengths and capabilities rather than fixating on the outward appearance and the supposed “flaws or imperfections.”

Reading Savannah’s letter, I wished nothing more than to keep it beside me, for easy reference, during those difficult moments in time when I feel “less than enough,” or harshly critical of myself. “Everything can be beautiful when you stop looking for flaws.”

Love Yourself quote

Quotable Lessons

What a whirlwind it’s been these past couple weeks! With my 29th birthday arriving earlier this month (on the 3rd), it caused me to reflect quite a bit on my life and in particular, the past decade. To say it’s been tumultuous would be an understatement. Much of it was difficult, painful and at times, excruciating to endure. Other parts of it were dramatic, but positive, in some respects. With that being said, I ushered in the last year of my 20’s feeling loved and cared for. In the evening, my family and I gathered together and shared a couple hours exchanging laughs and enjoying each others’ companies. So often, I find myself in moments drifting away, worrying and fretting about the next day, hour, moment, and beyond. Though, this time, I centered my focus on that present moment, knowing that if I didn’t, I would regret it hours later. Consciously I knew, hours later, I would lay in my bed, reflecting upon the day wishing I had simply enjoyed the moment, relishing in the time with my family. Looking back, that evening was a defining moment in my 20’s, as I felt more loved and appreciated than I could have envisioned.

Flowers Blooming 2              Flowers Blooming

Pictured: Flowers spotted while on a walk the day of my birthday.

To that end, I found myself looking for even more quotes than usual, as I embarked on my 29th year. So often, I stumble upon the most intriguing and expressive thoughts through Twitter, of all places. With that being said, I thought I’d share a few of these quotes or statements, because perhaps they might impact someone who may be reading this:

“Life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.”

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

“Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others.”

“You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are.”

“Spend your life with who makes you happy, not who you have to impress.”

“If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.”

“Love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.”

“In this life, we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

“Work hard in silence; let success make the noise.”

“Every scar has a story, don’t be afraid to tell it.”

“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.”

“Those extra 5-10 pounds, that place where your body naturally wants to be – that’s your life. That’s your late night pizza with your loved ones, that Sunday morning bottomless brunch, your favorite cupcake in the whole entire world because you wanted to treat yourself. Those 5-10 pounds are your favorite memories, your unforgettable trips, your celebrations of life. Those extra 5-10 pounds are your spontaneity, your freedom, your life.”

Taste “Life” By the Spoon!

Good Morning! I hope your weekend has been a pleasant and enjoyable one, thus far. Now that the weather is beginning to turn warmer and humid at times (yesterday was one of the first humid days of the season, here in suburban Pennsylvania!), I find myself spending more time outdoors and will often crave something cool, creamy and refreshing. With that being said, yogurt has always been one of my staples, as a go-to snack and light meal of choice, excellent when enjoyed on its own, or paired with something like cereal, granola, or fresh fruit. However, enjoying the same yogurts over and over can be redundant, boring and quite frankly, lacking when it comes to variety.

Therefore, I was recently presented with the unique and exciting opportunity to sample and review a newer kind of delicacy (at least to me!) packed with protein, nutrition, flavor and uniqueness! The new find I speak of is Kefir, an equally enjoyable counterpart and alternative to yogurt, available in numerous forms, such as drinkable versions, frozen options, squeezable tubes, Farmer Cheese, and beyond! As a versatile option, the possibilities with Kefir are endless and the health benefits extend well beyond that of similar foods, providing consumers with a product that is easy to enjoy and nourishes the mind and body.

By now, you may be wondering, what exactly is Kefir, anyway? Well, more on that in a minute! There are numerous companies which produce Kefir, though one company in particular, who supplied me with a vast array of Kefir varieties to sample – Lifeway Kefir (lifewaykefir.com), is now the largest Kefir manufacturer within the United States!

Lifeway Kefir 2

Lifeway Kefir History: (via lifewaykefir.com)

  • Originated in 1986, when Michael Smolyansky began making kefir his basement at home in Skokie, Illinois. Eager to publicly share and promote kefir, within two years, he publicized the company and is now the largest Kefir manufacturer within the US, as previously stated.
  • Family Driven – Lifeway Kefir prides itself in promoting family, as founder Michael, passed along the torch of company ownership in 2002 to his children, Julie and Edward, serving as President/CEO and Chief Operating Officer, respectively.

Julie Smolyansky              Edward Smolyansky

  • Lifeway Kefir is based in the Chicago, Illinois area and even has the Lifeway Kefir Shop, a chain of Frozen Kefir cafes within the Chicago metro area!

Lifeway Kefir Shop

Lifeway Kefir Mission: (via lifewaykefir.com) Commited to four ideals

  • All Natural and Hormone-Free Ingredients
  • Philanthrophy
  • Environmental Responsbility – Lifeway Kefir offers and promotes BPA-Free packaging, recycling and renewable energy.
  • Local Farming Sustainability

Lifeway Logo 2

Lifeway Kefir Social Media, Website and Newsletter: Connect and keep in touch with Kefir and the latest happenings by choosing to follow, like, share and subscribe to their various social media channels, newsletter, blog and website –

  • Lifeway Kefir Blog – Lifeway offers a blog on their official website (lifewaykefir.org), updated weekly with pertinent and helpful health and nutrition articles.
  • Facebook – Follow and like Lifeway Kefir on their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/lifewaykefir
  • Twitter – Follow Lifeway Kefir on their official Twitter page (@lifeway_kefir)
  • Pinterest – Follow and pin with Lifeway Kefir on their official Pinterest page (@lifewaykefir)
  • Instagram – Follow Lifeway Kefir and be delighted in their photos and posts on their official Instagram page (@lifewaykefir)

Lifeway Kefir Product Offerings: The product line up is vast and comprehensive and includes the following –

Lifeway Product Lineup 2

Kefir (Beverages/Smoothies):

  • Low Fat (in 15 flavors)
  • Seasonal Flavors (5 flavors)
  • Perfect 12 Kefir (4 flavors)
  • Protein (4 flavors)
  • Nonfat (5 flavors)
  • BioKefir (3 flavors)
  • Traditional (9 flavors)
  • Kefir with Oats (3 flavors)
  • Organic Low-Fat (7 flavors)
  • Organic Whole Milk (6 flavors)
  • Organic Helios (7 flavors)

Lifeway Drinkable KefirLifeway Blueberry

ProBugs (for kids):

  • ProBugs Squeezable Pouches (5 flavors)
  • ProBugs Bites (3 flavors)
  • ProBugs Blast (4 flavors)
  • Frozen ProBugs (3 flavors)

Lifeway Probugs      Lifeway Probugs Frozen

Frozen Kefir:

  • Frozen Kefir Bars (3 flavors)
  • ProBugs Frozen Kefir (3 flavors)
  • Frozen Kefir Pints (4 flavors)

Lifeway Frozen Kefir new

Kefir Cups (individual cups with a spoon attached!):

  • Kefir Cups (4 flavors)
  • Organic Kefir Cups (7 flavors)
  • Farmer Cheese Cups (6 flavors)
  • Organic Farmer Cheese Cups (5 flavors)
  • Farmer Cheese (3 flavors)

Lifeway Farmer Cheese cups 2  Lifeway Cups   Lifeway Farmer Cheese Lifeway Farmer Cheese cups

Supplements: (Coming soon!)

Lifeway Supplements  Lifeway Supplements 4   Lifeway Supplements 3   Lifeway Supplements 2

  • Probiotic Supplements (3 flavors)
  • Probiotic Chewables

What IS Kefir?

  • According to the official Lifeway Kefir website, Kefir is described as a tart and tangy cultured milk smoothie offering an abundance of nutrition, such as great sources of protein, calcium and vitamin D, which are all critical components to a healthy diet and regimen. Healthy and with a  taste comparable to both Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (in my opinion), Kefir supplies tang, creaminess and a rich texture and is an excellent protein source, along with other vitamins and minerals.
  • Kefir orginated over 2000 years ago, in Caucasus Mountains.

Lifeway Kefir Facts

What’s IN Kefir?

  • 15-20 billion colony forming units (CFU), which are live and active Kefir cultures.
  • All products are naturally gluten-free, certified by Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
  • Natural Flavors = free of any artificial ingredients/preservatives, Lifeway Kefir products are all made with fruit juices, fruit essences and essential oils. The hints of sweetness in certain Lifeway products are strictly derived from the fruits themselves (as detailed via LifewayKefir.com)
  • Milk = Milk is the essential ingredient in Lifeway products. The milk within Lifeway products hails from small co-op and family farms from within the Midwestern portion of the United States. Therefore, consumers can feel confident knowing the milk producing Lifeway Kefir is free of any synthetic hormones and antibiotics, rBGH and rBST.

Health Benefits of Kefir: Lifeway Kefir fully stands by their beliefs that Kefir supplies a vast array of health benefits which includes the following –

  • Probiotics – Live microorganisms which aid in digestion and immunity.
  • Immunity – Nearly 70-80% of one’s immune system is located in the digestive track and the probiotics within Kefir contributes to maintaining immunity.
  • Healthy Weight – As a rich protein source, Kefir helps keep one fuller and guards against pesky hunger and cravings.
  • Skin – Nourishing not only your internal body, Kefir contains Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) often found in skin care products. Therefore, Kefir can assist in promoting healthy, glowing skin.
  • Digestion – Given the probiotics, Kefir has the ability to support and promote optimal digestion.
  • Protein SourceKefir is a quick, easy and tasty way to take in 11 grams of protein in an 8 oz serving!
  • Lactose Digestion – Fear not, those of you who may be lactose intolerant, Kefir is lactose-intolerant friendly, as it is 99% lactose-free due to Kefir‘s fermentation process and cultures.
  • Mood – When it comes to Kefir, feel good not only physically, but also mentally/emotionally, as Kefir is a source of tryptophan, an amino acid naturally increasing the brain’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter affecting mood balance and regulation.
  • Bone Density – Help keep your bones strong and in good form with Kefir, as it provides 30% of one’s daily calcium needs in a serving!

Unique Kefir Facts:

  • Cook/Bake with KefirKefir can be used commonly as a replacement for buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt and mayo! Check out the official Lifeway Kefir website (via lifewaykefir.com) for their recipe page to help get you started!
  • Safe for Pregnant/Nursing Women and Children – Lifeway Kefir even offers a line designed for children by the name of ProBugs and Frozen Kefir options!

Now that you’re familiar with Kefir in general and Lifeway Kefir, as a company, it’s time to share what I received from Lifeway Kefir and offer my perspective and experience with Lifeway Kefir products!

What I Received:

Kefir Delivery

Drinkable Kefirs:

  • Birthday Cake Low-Fat Kefir
  • Madagascar Vanilla Low-Fat Kefir
  • Apple Pear Cobbler Perfect 12 Kefir
  • Nonfat Plain Kefir
  • Plan Lowfat Kefir

Kefir Cups:

  • Kefir Cup with Granola
  • Organic Kefir Cup with Orange Vanilla
  • Natural Kefir Cup
  • Organic Natural Kefir Cup

Farmer Cheese:

  • Natural Farmer Cheese Cup
  • Black Cherry Farmer Cheese Cup
  • Organic Natural Farmer Cheese Cup
  • Organic Peach Farmer Cheese Cup

My Review:

Upon the arrival of the large and generous shipment from Lifeway Kefir, I was excited, eager and delighted to sample all of these innovative and healthy products! As a vegetarian, it is a goal of mine to be able to take in adequate protein and with Lifeway Kefir products, I was convinced it would be easy task!

First up, I opted to try the Birthday Cake Low-Fat Kefir! Just hearing the phrase – Birthday Cake associated with any type of food product is inviting and appealing to me! I even figured it would be appropriate, given my actual birthday is this Wednesday! The taste was a unique one and reminiscent of vanilla cake frosting/batter! Immediately upon taking the first sip, I was greeted by a taste that reminded me of Funfetti cake mix! The texture was full-bodied, creamy and rich, with just the right amount of thickness to feel satiating. After trying several other Kefir products, I consider this my favorite one of the bunch!

The next trial was Apple Pear Cobbler Perfect 12 Kefir, which has hints of sweet apple and creamy, sweet pear with notes of a tart and tang. It was refreshing and the notes of apple and pear complemented the overall texture and flavor.

In the realm of Kefir Cups, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a spoon is tucked in the clear lid of each, which is convenient and functional, great for enjoying it on the go, or at any time! It is a generous serving packed inside each Kefir Cup and is thick and rich, providing a similar tang noted in the Kefir smoothie/drinks. The granola mix-in in the one variety provides a sweet oaty crunch for a balance of texture. It is a great alternative to Greek yogurt and is equally healthy and nutritious!

Unique and new to me are the Kefir Farmer Cheese varieties. As a fan of cottage cheese, I was eager to try this new offering and loved the thick, rich texture. It is chunky and filling, packed with protein and is great on its own, or with fruit mixed in and even can be enjoyed savory as a dip, perhaps mixing in favorite herbs, spices or chopped veggies! In my mind, it could even be used as a topping for bagels, toast, and beyond!

Overall, it was an incredible and exciting experience to have the unique opportunity to sample and review Lifeway Kefir products! In my mind, they are a commendable and admirable company, truly dedicated to community, facilitating partnerships and producing healthy foods to nourish all! There is truly an offering for everyone when it comes to Lifeway Kefir products.

Many, many sincere thanks to Erika and the entire team at Lifeway Kefir for their generosity and kindness in providing me with these products to sample and review; it was a true honor and one I greatly appreciate!

 

 

Inspiration by the Minute

It’s a beautiful day, weather-wise here in the suburbs of Philadelphia and has been for the past several days, much to my delight. There is a difference in the air, demeanor of my fellow neighbors and beyond, when the weather is warm, sunny and pleasant in comparison to cold, blustery and dreary. With that being said, each day and nearly each minute, I find something, no matter how minuscule to be inspired by or at least provoke a consideration or stream of thoughts within my mind. This past weekend, on a trip to Hallmark to purchase some holiday cards as I browsed through the store, several bits of merchandise caught my eye and had me enraptured for several moments. Unfortunately without being able to purchase all of them, I took advantage of the next best thing and snapped some quick photos from my iPhone, hoping to recall and remember them the next time I’m in need of inspiration or food for thought.

Taking in this aforementioned merchandise, I thought, why not share this find with others? So with that, I give you, the photos I took this weekend of the Hallmark merchandise I spotted in-store:

Hallmark photo                    Hallmark photo 2

Hallmark photo 3

Hallmark photo 4

Also, several months ago, I spotted a company on Facebook whose merchandise and overall initiative caught my eye: Mantraband (mantraband.com). If you’re not familiar with them, they are a company producing inspirational jewelry (bracelets and necklaces). Hailing from California, these bracelets and necklaces are available in countless different inspirational “mantras” or quotes, arranged on their website according to category (i.e. happiness, love peace, strength and journey) They are also available for purchase in Hallmark stores (I spotted them by the checkout counter!). Necklaces are the newest addition to their lineup and are as beautiful as the bracelets. They are extremely active on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and are always hosting giveaways. Speaking of giveaways, back in January, I was announced the winner of one of their Facebook contests where they asked followers to submit their favorite mantras, or quotes. My prize was the opportunity to choose any Mantraband bracelet I’d like. Here is my choice:

Mantraband

The “Brave” mantra in particular resonated with me and actually, I took the cardboard portion and posted it on my refrigerator for easy reference and inspiration. Each mantra is imprinted on the outside of the small cuff bracelet, so it is easy to see and refer to at any given time.

One of my other favorite means of inspiration are books and the small, but poignant quotes or phrases I seem to come across every so often. Most recently, I spotted one in one of the novels I read and the quote, from Nora Ephron, the late director and writer, stood out to me and has stuck in my mind ever since. It is a quote with much personal meaning to me and I often remind myself of it when I feel overwhelmed by personal faults or worries and snapped a photo for easy reference:

Book Quote

Anyhow, that’s all the inspiration I have for you today, but I do hope it was able to provide you at least with a fresh perspective, insight and even the momentum you might need on this mid-week day.

A Cryptic Attack: The Importance of Prevention

Each morning, I follow a fairly simple routine. It truly is nothing out of the ordinary, at least not me, and it is one I’ve come to adapt to. Both during and after breakfast, NBC’s The Today Show is my companion. Throughout the course of several years, I’ve come to know the hosts, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, Dylan Dreyer and Al Roker as though they are my close confidantes, turning to them for both breaking and lighthearted news. Their interactions, true passion for journalism and news is captivating and leads me to trust to them, turning to them for a daily synopsis of the latest happenings.

With that being said, I took note of the commercial airing last night as NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt, briefly detailing the exclusive live interview set to take place tomorrow (this morning) with Bob Harper, the renowned personal trainer, star of The Biggest Loser, and frequent guest on talk shows such as The Rachael Ray Show. While I’ve never been that much of a fan of Harpers, his recent heart attack caught my attention. When I first learned of his heart attack, I was in shock and disbelief. How could someone so fit, so into health and fitness, with such knowledge and awareness suffer something as potentially-devastating and life-threatening as a heart attack? Often times, as you are probably aware, when hearing of a heart attack, it is quickly attributed to poor health and eating habits, weight or obesity, perhaps family history, lack of self-care, etc. Of course, with that being said, naturally, there are an assortment and vast array of other contributing factors not related to any of the aforementioned risks.

Bob Harper photo             Today show

This morning, I watched the interview unfold between Bob and Savannah Guthrie, captivated as he spoke and detailed his experience, suddenly collapsing mid-gym workout. Though an interview, it felt much more like a conversation between two acquaintances or friends detailing one’s life-threatening episode and experience. During the interview, Harper stated this was his first time publicly recounting all he’d been through and though he has no recollection of that particular day, he stated that he was told it was how the day all unraveled. To his benefit, shockingly numerous doctors just so happened to be working out at the same time as his collapse, ultimately saving his life with the assistance of the defibrillator, thankfully on-site at the gym. As he spoke, tears began to build in his eyes, overcome with emotion and gratitude. He noted that he was “on that ground dead, with nothing more than a 6 percent survival rate.”

Bob Harper photo 2

As it was to countless of others throughout the world, Harper was nonetheless stunned by his sudden heart attack, coming without warning. Looking back, however, he stated he recalls dizzy spills in the weeks leading to the heart attack. During the interview, he issued imperatives statements to those watching, “It was hugely shocking for me, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about the fact that genetics played a part in this. It is so important to know your health.”

For me, hearing about how important it is know one’s health and to really take note of the feelings, both physically and emotionally one experiences, truly resonated with me. There is nothing more important, in my mind, than paying attention to one’s body, no matter how subtle those “signals” or “feelings,” may be. In my mind, it is always worth it to pursue those sensations, those little pains that may seem so small and insignificant. Even though they may be benign or of little concern, it is still worth it to be proactive and to be an advocate for oneself.

As the interview continued, Harper stated, “I think about before the heart attack I was having dizzy spells and I thought, maybe I should have really taken that more seriously. It’s been a huge wake up call for me. In addition, he has a family history of heart disease, as his mother passed away from a heart attack. Though he is now on the mend and progressing well, he made it a point to note, “It’s been hard. I’m going through some depression. You really face your mortality and I’m really understanding what’s important in life.”

Bob Harper recovery

His interview with Savannah today was eye-opening. For me, I cannot even begin to explain my own experiences with health and how important it has been throughout my life to trust my body. Those personal experiences have led me to encourage family, friends, acquaintances and whomever I may cross paths with, including those who might be reading this today, to really take the time to listen to yourself. No worry or concern is really ever too small, it is worth it to be considered and if you find you are nervous or afraid to reach out and question doctors or professionals on your own, I encourage you to ask for help, ask for someone to accompany you to those appointments to help you ask those questions, or to serve as a reminder, or even as a support, just being there physically present FOR YOU. Whether that person is a family member, a friend, a neighbor, an acquaintance, if it provides you with the support, confidence and reassurance you might need to be proactive with your health, then I strongly encourage you to ask for that help and for that hand. Sometimes a helping hand and a listening ear may be all we need to get us to where we need or want to be.

I’m truly grateful for the interview between Savannah Guthrie and Bob Harper today, for it’s shear honesty, truth, and imperative message of self-care and personal health maintenance with the take-away message being prevention is key.

Your health is worth it and YOU are worth it – worth the time, the energy and compassion. Take care of you, because you deserve health and happiness.

 

Sip it Like “Crazy!” Flavor Your Day with Crazy Cups!

Good Sunday Morning to you, wherever you may be. Here in the Philadelphia suburbs, a cold front has swept through the region, bringing the return of frigid temperatures and intense wind gusts. Though, on a positive note, I do have something I’d love to share with all of you who might be reading: Crazy Cups! At this point, you might be wondering, what in the world is Crazy Cups? Well, given coffee is one of my favorite beverages to enjoy and one I look forward to each morning and throughout the day/evening, my recent discovery of Crazy Cups has significantly broadened and improved my coffee repertoire.

Since my last teens, I became truly vested in coffee, not only for the taste, aroma, and ability to add a bit of warmth to my day, but for the experience, noting all the vast methods and possibilities of brewing a cup of java. It intrigued me how unique each brewing process could be: everything from freshly grinding coffee beans, using a percolator, pour-over, or French Press, a traditional drip coffee-maker, instant packets, k-cups (or any single-cup brewer method), and beyond!

With that being said, I traditionally begin each morning with several small cups of caffeinated coffee, but starting the afternoon and through evening, will switch to decaffeinated blends, or occasionally will indulge a caffeinated variety. However, I often find it challenging to locate a flavored decaf coffee blend, one that is flavored in such a way that is reminiscent of dessert or something like that. With traditionally caffeinated coffee, it is relatively easy to find an abundance of flavors. Numerous months ago, my hopes were answered as I innocently perused the coffee section on Amazon.com, a favorite website of mine to shop for coffee. As I scanned through their offerings, I suddenly settled my eyes upon a brand I’d never heard of before: Crazy Cups! Their flavors and offerings appeared endless and shocking. Not only were their flavors decadent (picture: Frosted Oatmeal Cookie, Chocolate Coconut Dream, Caramel Truffle Sundae… just to name a few!), but they were available in DECAF varieties, much to my surprise and delight! No worries about their nutritional content, either, they are all calorie-free and naturally or artificially sweetened!

crazy-cups-ode-to-flavor                     crazy-cups-coffee-logo

Early last month, I was presented with the unique opportunity to review Crazy Cups and within a few short days, I received a Crazy Cups box filled with a variety of K-cups, lattes, ciders, and hot chocolates! In addition, a bright orange baseball cap emblazoned with Crazy Cups also made it’s way into the box – their latest addition in their product offerings, now allowing me to sport my love of Crazy Cups while out and about!

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In a bit, I’ll share my review with you, but prior to that, I thought it would be best to indulge whomever may be reading with a bit of pertinent background info on Crazy Cups and a brief synopsis of all they offer. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed!

Crazy Cups History & Vision: (via CrazyCups.com)

  • Crazy Sol, the creator of Crazy Cups, sought to create a line of coffee and coffee-inspired beverages reminiscent of favorite desserts, candies and decadent indulgences, like Boston Cream Pie and Red Velvet Cake, just to name a few.
  • Nearly completely consumer-driven, Crazy Cups prides itself in operating based off of consumer suggestions and feedback. With that being said, they ultimately created what they affectionately refer to as: #FlavorNation.

Crazy Cups Social Media/#FlavorNation: (via CrazyCups.com)

  • Crazy Cups is extremely active and interactive on various social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. In fact, each new Twitter follower gets a personalized acknowledgment/shout-out and a thank you for their support and following of the company!
  • Crazy Cups Facebook: @CrazyCupsCoffee
  • Crazy Cups Twitter: @CrazyCupsCoffee
  • Crazy Cups Pinterest: @CrazyCups0802
  • Crazy Cups APP: Truly profess and indulge in your love and interest in Crazy Cups by downloading the official Crazy Cups app!* Learn about exclusive sales, new and innovative product offerings and flavors; communicate with other #FlavorNation members and build friendships, share and view photos and even earn prizes, enter contests and shop, all right from the app!

*Available for both Apple products (via App store) and Android devices (via Google Play store)

Crazy Cups Newsletter: (via CrazyCups.com)

  • Be sure to sign up for the Crazy Cups newsletter for the latest news and updates. Simply provide your name and email on the official Crazy Cups website by scrolling to the bottom of the page!

Crazy Cups Product Offerings:

  • Not only does Crazy Cups offer some of the most unique, decadent and indulgent-flavored coffees, but there are countless other options for non-coffee drinkers, or for those who may enjoy coffee, but like to mix it up a bit. Enjoy beverages such as lattes, hot chocolates, tea lattes, ciders and beyond! There is always something new and innovative to enjoy, no matter your tastebuds!

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  • Plus, now you can even “wear” your love of Crazy Cups, by sporting the all new, limited-edition Crazy Cups official Orange Logo Adjustable cap for $5.99! (Available for purchase via CrazyCups.com)

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Crazy Cups Flavored Coffee Flavors (*indicates Decaf variety!):

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  • Frosted Oatmeal Cookie *
  • Death By Chocolate *
  • Bananas Foster Flambe *
  • Chocolate Coconut Dream *
  • Caramel Truffle Sundae *
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
  • Apple Pie a La Mode *
  • Salted Caramel
  • Cinnamon Churro
  • Peppermint Chocolate Mocha *
  • Pumpkin Vanilla Creme *
  • Chocolate Raspberry Truffle *
  • White Christmas
  • Caramel Pecan Cluster *
  • Italian Chocolate Cheesecake *
  • Crazy Jamaican Java *
  • Blackberry Bliss (seasonal)
  • Variety Packs
  • Pina Colada (seasonal)
  • Chocolate Chipotle Mole
  • Spiced Gingerbread
  • Root Beer Float
  • Cinnamon Babka
  • Sweet Potato Pie (seasonal)
  • Chocolate Covered Almonds
  • Rum Vanilla Rhumba
  • Coconut Bunny
  • Blackberry Meringue (seasonal)
  • Hyper-Caffeinated Vanilla Blast

Crazy Cups Lattes:

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  • Red Velvet Revolution
  • Creamy Cinnamon Chai Tea Latte
  • Green Matcha Madness Green Tea Latte

Crazy Cups Hot Chocolates:

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  • Maple French Toast
  • Salted Caramel Fudge
  • Irish Creme Cheesecake
  • Caramelized Banana Split
  • Frosted Cinnamon Bun
  • Peppermint Patty
  • Molten Chocolate Souffle
  • Dulce De Leche
  • Frosted Oatmeal Biscotti

Crazy Cups Ciders:

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  • Hot Apple Cider
  • Southern Peach Cider
  • Spiced Orange Cider (seasonal)

Crazy Cups Additional Product Offerings:

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  • Gift Boxes
  • Variety Packs

How to Order Crazy Cups:

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  • At this point, you may be thinking, okay, I’m convinced, now clue me in – where do I buy?! Well, you’re in luck, quench your thirst and cravings with liquid indulgence that is Crazy Cups by choosing one or combination of the following ordering options:
  • Via Crazy Cups.com = order directly from the official Crazy Cups website or APP, plus secure FREE shipping on orders $35 and up!
  • Via Amazon.com = Where I, myself, first discovered this unique and exciting brand. Choose from most flavors and varieties.

My Crazy Cups Review:

What I Received:

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  • Coffee: Caramel Pecan Cluster, Pumpkin Vanilla Creme, Italian Chocolate Cheesecake, Chocolate Coconut Dream, Coconut Bunny, Cinnamon Churro, Blackberry Meringue, Peppermint Chocolate Mocha, Hyper-Caffeinated Vanilla Blast-Flavored Bold Roast, Chocolate Covered Almonds and Chocolate Raspberry Truffle.
  • Ciders: Spiced Orange, Hot Apple, and Southern Peach.
  • Hot Chocolates: Dulce de Leche, Molten Chocolate Souffle, Frosted Cinnamon Bun, Peanut Butter in a Cup, Maple French Toast.
  • Lattes: Red Velvet Revolution, Green Matcha Madness Crazy Tea Latte
  • Creamy Cinnamon Chai Crazy Tea Latte

My Perspective:

  • Given the dedicated coffee fan I am, I chose to indulge in the coffees first. Without much question, I enjoyed all of them, however, there were quite a few standouts in my opinion. First off, Chocolate Coconut Dream stood out as my favorite. The flavor was the ideal combination of a creamy, decadent chocolate combined with the tropical hints of coconut, which complemented each other. The flavor, to me, was reminiscent of my childhood favorite candy – Tootsie Rolls! What a joy to have in a cup! The chocolate covered almonds was also a favorite decadence of mine for similar reasons; the creamy chocolate flavor was expertly accentuated with the nutty, aroma and taste of almonds. In addition, the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle reminded me of a chocolate-covered Swedish Fish candy and left my kitchen pleasantly scented with notes of chocolate and sweet raspberries.
  • Given my mom is a fan of hot chocolate, she gladly sampled several of the varieties and quickly determined the Frosted Cinnamon Bun was her favorite, reminding her of the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies we both loved. As far as lattes, Red Velvet Revolution was quickly recognized as a favorite of ours, with the smooth, creamy texture and rich, crimson color. It was a satisfying taste of Red Velvet creamy desserts in a cup.
  • The traditional Hot Apple Cider was also a favorite of ours, as it reminded and took me back to the days of wandering around the local farm in my area, taking in the haunted houses and enjoying the bonfires outside, while enjoying a cup of warm, comforting Hot Apple Cider. It was easy to note the sweet taste of fresh apples, accentuated with warm notes of cinnamon spice, nutmeg and other warm spices.

* Overall, it was an incredible experience leaving me so very grateful and enthused to have been given the chance by Crazy Cups to sample and review their various products! Their hospitality and generosity is very much appreciated and enjoyed. So, for a bit of flavor and excitement in your cup, as well, I encourage you to check out Crazy Cups and enjoy the kaleidoscope of flavors!

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