Coffee Talks, and Taste Buds :: #NationalCoffeeDay

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You guys! I have been MIA from the blogging-sphere! So busy, but always thinking of you (my readers)  And because I love you all so much I decided to be a little more open-minded about this whole coffee-loving business.

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I am not a coffee person.  I LOVE tea, all types, all colors, and all flavors. I am one of those rare creatures who doesn’t like the bitter taste of coffee lingering in my mouth. I live a coffee-free life. Yes, yes it is possible.

However today September 29th is National Coffee Day! So let’s celebrate all things caffeinated. I invited my friend and  blogger colleague Jess from Reinventing Jess to go out and taste some unusual and special coffee. I asked her to take me to her favorite coffee spot in town, and that she did! She suggested The Doshi Coffee House and I can tell you I was not disappointed!

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The place is nice, small, cozy and intimate. It isn’t too loud and the natural light that comes in is just perfect. A small vintage piano sits in one corner, and a bookshelf with tons of books (double yes!) You can find comfy couches and small tables next to the windows. It is perfect.

I asked the owner to suggest some coffee for someone who doesn’t usually like coffee. He nailed it with his suggestions. We tried the Pistachio Latte, the Hawaiian Coffee (with coconut milk) and the African Toba.

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“French press is the best method to use when making coffee at home”

Pistachio Latte: creamy, sweet, nutty, not bitter. It’s light and silky. The pistachio milk is made in house. It is perfect for the non-coffee lover. THIS coffee right here might transform me into a coffee drinker.

Hawaiian Coffee: slightly bitter and a little stronger, this coffee is like a soft kiss in paradise. Creamy, and toasty with a light coconut taste. The coconut is light enough to let the coffee flavor come through but strong enough for you to know there is coconut in there.

African Toba: this one doesn’t taste like coffee at all. According to the owner this coffee is usually used for medicinal purposes. It has considerable amounts of cloves grounded with the coffee and natural sweetener. Very light, very aromatic because of the cloves, it almost feels like tea.

Three perfect choices for a non-traditional coffee person. Huge thanks to Doshi Coffee House! We had fun talking and tasking coffees.

Overall I enjoyed the whole experience. Many thanks to Jess and her awesome husband and kid for coming along. Their insights into the coffee world were very educational. Jess talked about her early days working as a barista and how she came to appreciate the full taste of coffee. It is always interesting to see how different people like different tastes, while Jess and I enjoyed the exotic tastes her husband went for a familar and more traditional latte, which was also good but has that lingering taste I don’t like.

Am I a transformed person? yes, and no. My mind has opened into the world of coffee and I can’t wait to try more. However, I feel I have a flair for the exotic and wish to try more Indian, African and South American coffees rather than traditional brews. But regardles of it all, tea remains king in my kingdom!

How do you like your coffee?

PS: Doshi Coffee House serves vegetarian food!! It doesn’t get any better than that!

Happy National Coffee Day!

xoxo

Jihane

Plant-Based Diet Made Easy! with Micaela Cook Karlsen’s Book

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If you follow my blogging rambles, you probably know we are mostly vegetarian (my son and I) – and I say mostly because we still eat some dairy (yogurt, cheese) and the occasional chicken as well as fish and seafood. However, we do embrace the plant base life as much as we can. Our diet is 75% plant-based at the moment, and it consists of much more than only salads.

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Spinach and Puffed Quinoa on Toast, and Jasmine Tea❤

Last week my son traveled to L.A with my parents, so I decided, since I was child-free and living the crazy life (right?) to do a whole 100% plant based week diet last week. That meant no dairy! I equipped myself with a variety of vegetables, cereals, and legumes and I started my plant-based week.

Why? well, I was inspired by the book “A Plant-Based Life” by Micaela Cook Karlsen, which I received a few weeks ago and which is now on sale for you to grab. The book, unlike many others, offers way more than just recipes. It offers a comprehensive and detailed list of things to consider when going plant-based.

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Micaela, a doctoral candidate in nutritional epidemiology has crafted a book easy enough to understand so all you need is the will and the desire to learn more about the plant-based diet.

“Going plant-based doesn’t mean you have to give up meat and chicken totally,” she says ” but if you make fruits and vegetables the main part of the meal and use meat to support the many, you’ll be well on your way to switching to a mare plant-based diet”

Micaela recommends you start by finding your motivating force, what is it that motivates you about a plant-based diet? some people have personal goals such a healthier lifestyle, others have environmental and ethical goals such as to end animal cruelty. So whatever your reason is embrace it! Micaela then guides you through the process of adding little by little more and more plant-like elements to your daily eating habits. Then she provides a nice long list of recipes and food variations for you to try.

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“When you build your meals primarily with plant foods, you fill your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats and a host of needed chemicals and nutrients that most people simply don’t get enough of,” Karlsen says.

I loved the amount of information in the book because it helps me understand the nutrients I get from food, and it also gives me ammunition against anyone who comes along with the eternal question “But, where do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat” – Oh the joys!

My plant based week included:

Drinks: coconut milk for my tea, green tea, jasmine tea and lots of water.

Meals: eggplant parmigiana, beef-less beef (tofu based) sauce and veggie pasta, spinach and quinoa on toast, salads, carrot and coconut soup, cauliflower au gratin*, potato-leek soup*, homemade rice cakes, oatmeal, veggie bowl (from Chipotle) and vegetable sushi (from HEB)

Snacks: fresh fruit, nuts, bliss balls (dates, pistachios, dried cranberries and quinoa)

* recipe in the book. 

I loved my plant-based week! and I am looking forward to continuing to develop the healthy eating habits needed to sustain a long term diet change. If you want to start and don’t know how I strongly recommend “A Plant-Based Life”. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive. With some organization it is possible!

TIP: if you run a busy life and don’t have much time to cook through the week, consider prepping all your food on a Sunday. It makes life much easier.

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Environmental facts to consider:

Meat, fish and dairy products have the heaviest environmental footprint of all food groups due to their effect on greenhouse gas emissions, water, and land use. Avoiding them or reducing their intake significantly makes a sustainable future possible for the whole world.


A free copy of this book was provided for reviewing purposes . Opinions are my own 

Consult your doctor before you make a significant diet change in your life. 

Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges by Patty Wipfler

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A little way back I came across a book by Patty Wipfler, called Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges. Being a “single mom”  (yes, I remarried recently but my son is my parental duty and sole responsibility and he will always be) I always worry about being able to give him the tools for him to become a well-rounded adult. Parenting is not easy, even less so when done by only one parent, I always joke how babies don’t come with manuals and how it would be much easier if they did.

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Anyway, I will review the book at a later date but for now, I want to leave you with this guest post that Patty has prepared for all of you.

What Are the Five Simple Tools You Need
to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges?

By Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand Parenting

Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.  Copyright © Hand in Hand Parenting, 2016

Each of the five Hand in Hand Listening Tools plays an important role in building wellbeing for your family. The tools work together to connect you and your children. And your child’s developing mind needs a close sense of connection with you as surely as she needs food, shelter, cleanliness, and sleep.

Special Time is a simple way to pour love and attention into your child. You set aside one-on-one time, and let your child choose what the two of you will do. She will use this time to show you what’s important to her and reveal her struggles. Special Time lets your child feel seen. It deepens her trust in you, while giving you a window into her thinking. It builds the sense of safety that promotes cooperation. Special Time can help connect you and your child from her earliest years through her adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond. It’s almost always the first Listening Tool to reach for when you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to do with this kid!”

Staylistening transmits your caring while your child feels hurt or afraid, and is expressing intense feelings. She pours out the hurt she feels; you listen, and pour in your quiet confidence that she’ll recover. You protect her while she feels alone and undone. Listening to your child’s upset doesn’t mean approving of her feelings; it’s your way of bathing her in your caring during her toughest moments. As her feelings pour out, an emotional burden will lift, and she’ll be left with the deep imprint of your love and support in its place. Both you and she will learn that feelings of hurt will heal when someone listens and cares. Because most of us were not listened to in this way, Staylistening can be challenging for a parent. But this tool has the power to lift your child’s spirits and transform bothersome behavior.

Setting Limits is crucial in your work as a parent. Your child needs and deserves a limit the minute her behavior starts to veer off track. A good limit gives your child the chance to offload the emotional tension that clouds her behavior, so she can return to the fun of learning and enjoying those around her. We’ll help you recognize the early warning signals your child sends out, and show you how to set limits without harshness. There are even ways to bring a limit that will fill your child with laughter.

Playlistening is the art of eliciting laughter in play with your child, without tickling. A heartwarming, creative tool, it will strengthen your connection as you make time for fun and enjoyment. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress. Your child’s confidence will build as you learn to instigate playful role reversal and games full of friendly challenge and affection. Laughter will foster warmth in your family.

Finally, the Listening Partnership gives you a way to replenish your energy for parenting. An exchange of listening time with another parent can help you shed the stress that crops up when you live with young children. A Listening Partnership also gives you a haven for learning. You get a safe, private place to unfold your thoughts and feelings. How do you want your parenting to be different from the way you were raised? What gifts from your parents do you want to pass on? When you find yourself struggling with your child over a particular issue, how does your own past experience come into play? You’ll also have the privilege of listening to another parent as they think, feel, and learn. You won’t exchange advice, but you’ll learn from one another every time you meet. As you listen and are listened to, you’ll find it easier to enjoy your children, and to connect warmly with them during their troubled moments.

So there you have it!

Each tool is powerful in its own right, but no one tool is meant to be used alone. Setting limits—your use of parental power—is tempered with Special Time, which puts your child in the driver’s seat for short chunks of time. Playlistening, the lighthearted side of parent-child interactions, helps to balance out the full-throated drama your child goes through as you Staylisten. Your Listening Partnership is a vital learning laboratory, as well as your sanctuary. There, you are respected and understood. Your every feeling is welcome, every experience is of interest, and every thought, an important one.

With these five Hand in Hand Listening Tools, you can fully express your deep love for your kids and strengthen your family life. Enjoy!

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By Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore the authors of
Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges.

To learn more about this unique approach to relationships in the family and get your own copy of Listen, click here.

 

Hello Bob! bObsweep PetHair, the Perfect Companion for Busy Pet Owners

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This is a Sponsored post. Opinions are my own. 

So a few weeks back we got rid of all the carpets. We said bye bye to the yellow stained cream color carpets and hello to shiny dark brown hardwood floor. However, it wasn’t until then that I realized how BAD my dog sheds hair on a daily basis. Hair was everywhere! his little goldie strands of hair up and down the stairs and on every corner of the house. I was sweeping the floor twice a day, every day!

But then out of the heavens! like sent by the vacuum goddess of clean floors the folks at bObsweep contacted me. Yay! YES! yes, I need a robotic vacuum cleaner designed for pet hair, I do! And before I could say Bob I received my brand new bObsweep PetHair.

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What’s cool Bob!

Bob PetHair’s automatic floor-cleaning capacity, together with his extra-large brush, effectively take the hair off your carpets and floors. Bob’s side brush will collect the hair from those hard-to-reach corners. Once Bob PetHair is turned on or set according to your timetable, he will brush through and clean floors of all types–rugs, carpets, hardwood floors, etc–free of your pet’s hair more easily than a vacuum cleaner.

The Verdict:

Excellent battery durability. Just charge and GO. It can clean for 25+mins on one charge.

It’s cool on the corners and preventing fall-outs! It won’t fall down the stairs or crash against your furniture.

Doesn’t love cables so much mind! Make sure you move all cables to prevent tangles.

Dog hairs be gone! I was quite impressed with Bob,  it does get rid of all the hairs. It doesn’t have a large storage capacity so make sure you clean the disposal after each use.

Easy to use! You can control it with the super cool and ergonomic remote control, or you can program it to work by itself while you are at work.

I also love the fact that it’s pet-friendly. It isn’t as noisy as a traditional vacuum cleaner and my dog seems more comfortable around it.

What are you waiting for? Adopt a bObsweep  

Learn more about it by visiting: https://www.facebook.com/bObsweep

Happy sweeping!

Tuesday Thoughts: The Way Writers Feel

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I have been writing stories and poems from as long as I can remember. My mom says that when I was a child before I could spell and write I would create songs all day long. Writing is both my gift and my curse. Don’t take me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing about being a writer but I have always felt I can feel things more deeply than my peers. But perhaps we all feel that way?

I can feel the cold little drops of rain prickling on my skin, and the adventurous drop navigating down my chest.

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I have this “sensitivity” that allows me to explore feelings and situations, things and people, elements and emotions in its full spectrum. I am not sure that is a good or a bad thing because I have been called sensitive one time too many to believe this is a gift, however, I am sure that it is this sensitivity that allows me to be a fiction and a poetry writer.

sen·si·tive – ˈsensədiv/

  adjective
          1. quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences (of a person or a person’s  behavior) having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings.
noun: 
           1. a person who is believed to respond to occult influences.

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The word sensitivity implies weakness to some people, but to me being soft in a world so hard isn’t a weakness, but a strength. A strength I often encourage on my son.

I strongly believe, as also do some of my colleagues, that this special connection to feelings and emotions are that make a great fiction writer. How else can you be attuned to your surroundings? How else can you create a space with words rich enough for the reader to feel part of the story? However, I might be wrong perhaps sociopaths are perfectly capable of writing about emotions even if they don’t feel them. Perhaps it is not necessary to savor pain in order to describe it, perhaps we don’t need to know the sweet taste of happiness to write about a smile. Who knows?

I do know that lines of poetry usually float into my head, often times while I am driving, which means they get lost in the abys because by the time I get to a place where I can write the down I have already forgotten. Worlds of wonder and imagination swirl and dance in my thoughts mixed with the reality of life. No, I am not mad, I am a writer filled with creative thoughts! (LOL)

Literary writing and blogging and/or commercial writing are two different things, and just as some painters can paint one style but not the other, not all writers can write the same genre. Which is perfectly ok because we need all forms, all types, all genres.

What do you think? are all writers sensitive?

While you are at it, and if you feel like reading some Flash Fiction make sure to check out this: www.onixj.com/flash-fiction-scarlet

Girly, Fun & Sophisticated with VoodooVixen

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Hey! So, I am not a fashion blogger, however I am still a woman that loves fashion. I am also eternally in love with vintage, old school pieces. I often roam around thrift stores and online trying to find vintage pieces that go along with modern ones too. Mix and Match kind of style!

Not long ago I came across Voodoo Vixen. I Immediately feel IN LOVE with their vintage fabrics, patterns and designs. Naturally, when they offered to send me a sample I jumped into it straight away!

Voodoo Vixen is a vintaged inspired label infused with pin-up and retro styles. They are made to hug your curves and embrace your femininity with a slight revel yet sophisticated touch! Also, they are based in the heart of East London❤ and you know my heart is forever in England sooooo, all the YES(es) to these brand.

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I received the Valerie Red Skirt which has a fun vintage anchor fabric. The fabric is soft, somewhat silky  but it isn’t stretchy so keep that in mind when purchasing, as pencil skirts aren’t too forgiving when it comes to hugging your figure.

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I love the quality of the fabric and the elegant yet fun look! This skirt can be dressed up with a pair of white pumps and a white shirt and cardigan for a brunch or an early afternoon tea party! It works perfectly in this hot Texas summer. Or it can be dressed down with some flats and white spaghetti straps shirt too. Whatever you do, have fun with it.

They have so many cute dresses for all occasions, and seasons. Sizes run a little small, so make sure you see the specifications before you order. The do have a line for curvy vixens too, which is great! Size shouldn’t be an impediment when it comes to looking cute!  I am very happy with this skirt and I can’t wait to wear it over and over.

Hurry now! They have a SALE going on! visit Voodoo Vixen Sale

xoxo

Homemade Hope: Warm Meals & Smiles PLUS Cooking with Luby’s Restaurant.

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Last week I was invited to an event with Homemade Hope, and I immediately jumped on the wagon when I knew what they do.

Homemade Hope, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, is an organization focused on the culinary arts, which is something I am passionate about. Teach your children about the joys and benefits of healthy home cooking from an early age. But, Homemade Hope is more than that. They bring a taste of home to homeless and at-risk children living in Houston’s shelters and transitional living centers—fostering creativity, developing life skills, and nurturing every child’s belief that life has hope.

In partnership with local transitional shelters, Homemade Hope harnesses the sensory power of the kitchen to create a loving and supportive environment where children build self-esteem, develop traditions, and experience the simple pleasures of childhood.  Using food as a canvas for expression, Homemade Hope creates a space for connection while educating them about nutrition and empowering them with skills they can use outside of class.

Their programs include weekly sessions, cooking classes, tutoring, holiday celebrations, trips and educational advocacy. For detailed info about their programs visit: http://www.homemadehope.org/programs

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In this occasion, Homemade Hope partnered with Luby’s restaurants for a fantastic behind the scenes tour of the place. My 10-year-old son learned all about what it really is to be in a restaurant kitchen, and how hard chefs work to provide delicious meals.

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Kids also got to make their own combination of Mac & Cheese and spend some time with Luby’s chefs.

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I can’t express how important I think getting children in the kitchen is. Our next generation needs to understand where food comes from and need to have the tools and the knowledge to make informed decisions about the food they eat. It is our duty as parents to provide them with a healthy path. Let’s not leave it all to the schools. (and don’t get me started on school meals)

Also, it is important our kids learn and understand that so many other children are not as privileged as them. Many children out there are homeless or living in shelters. The circumstances they are in are not their fault, and they shouldn’t be stigmatized for it.

Get your children involved with their community, and teach the power of helping others. Compassion is not a weakness is a strength. 

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Big thanks to Luby’s restaurant in Post Oak, Houston for having us and for my blogger friend Lisa Carey for inviting me to be part of this fantastic cause. If you want to help either by becoming a volunteer for Homemade Hope or by donating please contact them here http://www.homemadehope.org/get-involved-c19nb

Austin, Texas Road Trip #TrueAustin

Road Trip

Hello! So I was feeling a little down, a little meh, a little bored and I decided to take an impromptu road trip with my little man. Nothing like exploring new places to revitalize the mind and spirit!

Austin! I thought. Perfect, not too far but far enough to be new. In our 5 years in Texas, we had never visited Austin so off we went! First place in our itinerary was the Barton Spring pools. I have heard so much about them we couldn’t miss it. Also, you know how nature is our church and home so we were all over the idea of going to a natural spring pool.

Barton Spring Pools

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The Good:

  • Nature is all around.
  • The facilities are clean, including the bathrooms.
  • There is plenty of parking space.
  • Kid friendly but also cool for adults only.
  • Cheap. $1 per child and $3 per adult (resident tariff)

The Bad:

  • The water is COLD. So this is not particularly bad, just be aware it will be cold.
  • No food or drinks allowed. This can be tricky when you are with kids. Kids need treats and drinks specially when they are being active outdoors. For my 10-year-old son, this meant downgrading the experience from 4 stars to 2 stars after a member of staff told us off.
  • In order to pay your $5 for parking, you have to find one of the pay and display machines. We were there in line for a good 15mins because it was so busy in there.

After we were informed about the no-food policy we decided to go because we were hungry. We headed along the road and found a bunch of food trucks! anything you want is available there. Foodie heaven! We ended up at Cheap Date Food Truck at South Austin Social, 409 Jessie St, Austin, TX 78704.

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The food was absolutely on point! and the staff was so friendly! We are their Chicken and Rice dish which came packed with delicious vegetables in a curry sauce. We also tried their samosas and plantains! Oh! I love plantains and this was perfect! Shout out to them for the extra bottle of water they gave us! It was hot out there!

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My son also HAD to try an ice cone next door at Sunny Daze. Again, the staff was so friendly with us, we even discussed a few places to visit while in town. And, I made my child very happy with a $3 Blueberry Ice Cone. (the only problem is that he sported blue lips, tongue, and teeth for the rest of the pictures lol)

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We then visited the Texas State Capitol, because well yes! we couldn’t miss that historical spot. It was SO hot though that we only walked around, snapped some pictures and headed back to the safe haven of the car. YES! thank all the stars for AC. How did people survive in Texas without AC I do not know. lol

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After this, next destination was the iconic Graffiti Park. My son and I were so excited! Parking was horrible, mind. The park is on top of a hill and parking space is limited. Thankfully we were riding my brothers Ford Fiesta which is compact enough to fit almost anywhere.

The Graffiti Park is a celebration of art and freedom of the mind. Anyone can go there and leave their art on the wall. Yes! really, anyone. It was buzzing with people, and we had the chance to see a few artists working on their designs.

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And last, to end our adventure we headed in search of an antique store. By pure luck I found a string of little shops with a lot of character. I was at 1120 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703.

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We discovered a whole world of lost treasures at Fortney Home. Five floors of exquisitly curated antiques and nick nacks.

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Aaaand, we found the loveliest little spot next door at Sweetish Hill Bakery. An amazing selection of cookies and cakes to die for!  We went for the Texas cookie because yeah! Discovering  & loving Texas went perfectly with our road trip theme, and also because Texas has been our home for nearly 6 years now.

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Loved our little road trip! We Hope you loved our review. Have you been to Austin? If so, what is your favorite thing about the city?


Tune in later on this week for our trip to Houston’s Chinatown

xoxo

Jihane

ValoraLife Building #FamilyMoments for Tomorrow

Family Craft

This is a sponsored post

I have been pondering a lot about life lately. The value of the things we do while we are alive, and the security we bring to our family. I recently heard, “We are remembered for the things we do for others, not the things we do for ourselves”

I was a single mother for some time, and being my son’s only provider always worried me. Motherhood means providing for our families and their future and enjoying time together. The moments we spend with family are the most valuable part of life. Now, remarried, the future of my family is something I take very seriously.

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Picture by ValoraLife

Valuable time with our loved ones is not just time spend with our family, but the time we spend actually engaged in activities together. It is not the same to say we watch a movie together if each one of us is glued to their phones while the movie plays in the background.

Valuable time is making memories to remember. This is why that when ValoraLife contacted me, I immediately fell in love with their #familymoments campaign.

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Picture by ValoraLife

ValoraLife, in partnership with the Houston Museum of Natural Science, is providing a significant discount to create your own family moments.

Enjoy an $8 admission to the Museum! that’s savings of up to $17 off regular admission!
All you have to do is present the code (click the link below) at the ticket counter and… ta-da, discount applied!

DISCOUNT CODE HERE! 

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Picture by Valora Life

Who is ValoraLife?

ValoraLife is a new simple and affordable way to buy Life Insurance online. It allows users to receive an online quote in 5 minutes and apply for a life insurance policy online in less than 30 minutes! Which I don’t know you, but I love, because I hate being on the phone for hours talking to a stranger trying to get a quote.

It is a service made with millennials in mind. Latino insights inspired ValoraLife, designed to make it easy to understand Life Insurance, assess the options that fit your budget, and purchase coverage online – with help available if you need it. However, it is worth mentioning ValoraLife is not just for Latinos. It is for anyone like you or me, looking for a way to protect the future of their families once we are gone.
Now take out your phone, take some selfies, and go tag @valoraLife to share your #FamilyMoments, just like I did!.

* To be eligible you must be a U.S citizen or permanent resident (green card holder), reside in the U.S., and be between 18 and 44 years old, have a U.S. bank account and a valid driver’s license.

Jihane


ValoraLife Insurance Services is a division of Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC.

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