Thursday, April 30, 2020

How to Keep Kids Busy During Quarantine

If you've been struggling to keep your kids learning and entertained while they whine "I'm bored", "can I watch TV?" or "will you play with me?" as you work from home and attempt to get some quiet time and keep the entire house (along with your sanity) together, today's post is for you!

When social distancing began and rumors started trickling in about schools potentially closing for the remainder of the year, we made the decision to stock up on arts, crafts and other activities to keep our sweet little 6-year-old daughter happy and occupied. We committed to the idea of giving her 1 new craft project every other day for as long as we were ordered to shelter in place and spend out days indoors. These came in particularly handy as the first 2 weeks didn't involve school lesson plans and parents were left to figure out a homeschooling curriculum on their own. As soon as Lily wakes up (which is usually between 5:30am-6:30am), we give her a craft first thing to start the day along with breakfast so we each have quiet 'work from home' time before her online distance learning class begins. It's been such a fun way to break up the day and gives her something to look forward to.

I'm sharing the top 22 kids craft projects & activities that we have purchased online for her, revealing which ones have been her favorite so far. I'm breaking them down into 2 parts: girls crafts and then the remainder of unisex crafts (these fit the age 5-10 category)


1. Jewelry Making Kit- We ended up purchasing 5 different jewelry making kits ranging from Disney princesses and frozen to more difficult kits with smaller beads which allow for more creativity. This is Lily's favorite of the bunch which allowed her to make necklaces as well as bracelets that look a bit more grown up. She loves being able to gift her friends with bracelets by mail that she had made from her various kits.

2. Princess Stamping Kit- Every child I know loves stamping and what makes this kit fun is that it also comes with pencil crayons so that the pictures can be filled in and made unique each time.

3. Light Up Fashion Tracing Pad- This has been a favorite for my little fashionista who also happens to love horses. The tracing templates contain both horses with a variety of tales, manes and of course countless outfits, hair styles, accessories and more with a runway backdrop complete with coloring pencils. This one has kept her entertained at home as well as the car during the odd trip we've had to make during quarantine.

4. Fashion Designer Studio Kit- This kit is a dream for every little girl who enjoys dressing up and has already shown an interest in making doll clothes and fashion in general. Lily loves pinning fabric onto the dress mannequin so she can measure, cut and refine each look. 

5. Easy Unicorn Pillow- For those who cannot sew or you don't want to be handling a needle and thread yet, this is the perfect project! It's a pre-sewn unicorn that you stuff and close up with colored flannel strips to make the mane. Lily has slept with her pillow many times and plays with it in her fort.

6. Flower Crown Making Kit- A no-mess project at home or on the go resulting in pretty flower crowns that are fun to make and beautiful to wear.

7. Painting Ceramic Unicorns- This kit came with 2 different unicorns and several paint pots including metallic paint which was perfect for the horn. What I loved was that this craft took her a while to paint each and I was able to work as she quietly painted and didn't need any help with it.

8. Fairy Magical Cottage Garden- This kit is super cute and is a fun addition to a porch or backyard garden area so that your little miss has her own little fairy space that she plants herself and can tend to and watch it grow. I like that it can be enjoyed for months to come and is something that she can take care of which teaches responsibility.

9. Beginner's Sewing Kit- This kit was a huge hit! I definitely had to help with the cutting of the felt and show her how to actually sew, but after a few mins she got the hang of it. This is definitely a fun parent-child activity but I still had quiet time to work for a bit sitting beside her as she wanted to finish the sewing and stuffing herself. The instruction booklet is detailed and there are several patterns, it can be used again and again.

10. How to Draw Book- While watching YouTube videos has been a great tool to teach Lily how to draw, I wanted her to follow another method using quadrants for practicing drawing characters and this girly book was the best option with unicorns and mermaids which are her favorite right now.


1. Magic Clay- I think it's safe to say that we got our money's worth from this kit! It has been the most used so far and I love that it has 24 different colors to make a wide array of creations. It contains key chains and other loops so kids can clip it to their backpack or elsewhere. 

2. Painted Window Art- One of the first things we saw popping up during quarantine were drawings in the window's of homes where little ones lived. Lily has a grid of her own drawings in our dining area facing the walkway and this is one more fun tool to add a child's creativity and brighten the day of passersby. Working at the dining table it's been sweet seeing many people walk by and point to her happy little creations.

3. Smarty Pants Trivia- While this isn't a craft, this activity is a great way to keep kids engaged and having fun while learning interesting facts and testing their knowledge at their current grade level. Lily is in first grade so that is the one we chose for her.

4. Wikki Stix- We were first introduced to these little bendable wax sticks at a restaurant in Hawaii that handed them out. We later bought her a travel kit that she's used while we've dined out at restaurants, while on longer road trips, at home and at friend's houses to keep her entertained. This newest addition was to top up her pack and comes with a huge variety of colors-I even like playing with them!

5. Kinetic Sand- Perfect for those who don't have a sandbox and can't get to the beach! Even if you can do both, this sand is clean, sticks together and is ultimately like beach sand that never dries out. It also comes in pink, purple and other colors but I like products without coloring as much as possible so I opted for this kit with castle tools complete with a king and queen. We have since bought another bag of the sand to double the amount of fun!

6. Domino Blocks- Just because a child might be too young for the actual game of dominoes doesn't mean they can't enjoy setting up an knocking down beautiful patterns. Lily uses these to build towers too, I love that they are multi-colored and this little tote keeps them contained and easy to store.

7. Rubix Cube- This may not be for every child, but after finding out that mommy and daddy both had one growing up, Lily asked for one and has been fascinated by it. It kept her busy for an hour the first day we gave it to her. Ha Ha. The bonus is that us adults still like challenging ourselves with it, so it's fun for our whole family.

8. My First Origami Kit- Lily has been watching a ton of YouTube videos to teach herself to make different origami so we decided it was time for a little kit and I love that this one has animal patterns that match the animals such as a turtle shell, mouse fur etc. This is a great parent-child project and once they get the hang of it can fly solo.

9.  Assorted Craft Box- We didn't have any specific craft materials on hand other than drawing tools and construction paper so I thought it was time to add a bit more to the mix and this has allowed Lily to make some really cute creations.

10. Artist's Kit-  We've been through several of these over the years, but no quarantine is complete without a kit of paints, markers, crayons and all the essentials for drawing and creating. This kit is really affordable and can be shared by multiple kits and is perfect to take on the go.


Let's Socialize!

I'm always looking for new activities and crafts to keep our sweet girl busy, so I'd love to hear what some of your favorite activities are for keeping your own kiddos happy and entertained.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

How to Create a Better Morning Routine

Once upon a time I was a night owl who would work on ideas, blog posts and interior design projects until all hours of the night (and sometimes into the early morning!) with my laptop resting on my legs and a favorite Grey's Anatomy episode playing in the background. That was until I had a baby and having a morning routine became more important than ever as I adjusted to a completely different lifestyle. While that routine has changed over the past 6 years depending on what stage Lily was in, with everyone underfoot these days being in quarantine and working from home, I've had to readjust to a new way of life yet again to maximize both productivity and personal enjoyment. I've learned in life that how we begin our morning is what dictates how the rest of the day will unfold, so the first hour of every single day is critical and it's essential for self care, yes including weekends.

If I happen to sleep in on the weekend or I don't shower and/or get dressed during the week until noon, I can't help but feel sloppy and unproductive. One thing I can thank my sweetie for is re-introducing me to very early mornings. For his profession, he has to be up early before the stock market opens at 6:30am Pacific time, so I began adapting to his schedule and making an earlier bedtime a must. Our last summer vacation to Europe actually had us waking up around 4 or 5am every morning and when we returned home I kind of enjoyed it. The photo above was taken in Tuscany, Italy early in the morning while I was taking time to journal and write down some book ideas. When we returned home, Lily was still away for the summer so we we kept up the routine and I felt like I got so much accomplished. Especially if you are a mom, my best advice to you (as it's what I've personally found to be the key to carving out time for myself) is to get up at least one hour before your kids wake up or an hour before your usual alarm goes off if you live alone or with your partner. Make the first 60-90 minutes count by holding off on opening email or checking social media. I think you'll find that it's a very refreshing and positive way to begin each day versus diving into negative news spirals, the demands of your job and the countless other to do's on your list.


I'm laying out my 10 Steps on How to Create a Better Quarantine Morning Routine. These are meant to inspire you to make those small changes that will ultimately have a big impact overall.

How to Spend the First Hour of Your Morning

1. Consume a Hot Detox Drink- Starting the day with hot water and the juice of half of a lemon (I use this squeezer) or dandelion detox tea, both are perfect as they immediately help stimulate and flush out the liver and set the stage for digestion after resting all evening. These are both alkalizing options vs. coffee or caffeinated tea which are known to be acidic, so it's best to consume it first. If you're like me and practice intermittent fasting, you're not eating or even drinking juices first thing in the morning, so this is a great way to stay hydrated along with water and feel full until you're ready to eat.

Time: Approx. 3 mins


2. Green smoothie + Daily Vitamins- If you struggle to remember to take vitamins or swallow a lot of supplements at once, I recommend doing it with a thick smoothie-it goes down much easier and then you won't forget if you take both together. I opt for a green smoothie that packs in more greens instead of a fruit-based version which contains more sugar. I'm going to share an upcoming post with all of my best go-to recipes that I whip up in my Vitamix, however one of my favorite green smoothie recipe is a Tropical Green Smoothie I created. Recipe: Combine 3 large leaves of green kale, 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1 frozen sliced banana, 1 cup coconut water, 1 cup of spinach blended and 1 tbsp of shredded coconut into your blender. You could also toss in a greens powder if you don't have the fresh version on hand. I usually thrown in 1 tsp of amla powder for hair, skin and nails along with 1/2 tsp of ashwaganda powder which is great for combating stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Time: Approx. 5 mins


3. Open your Blinds with the Sun-While I typically rise before the sun, I like to experience the sunlight pouring into our home so I make a point of opening up all the blinds and letting natural light in, it helps me wake up and feel ready for the day. If you wake up to clouds and gloom on an overcast day, I recommend turning on lights around your home to signal to the brain that there's daylight.

Time: Approx. 2 mins

4. Stretch Your Body- You've just spent 6-8 hours sleeping, now it's time to wake your body up and loosen up stiff muscles. I like to put on some yoga pants, jog on the spot for a minute to warm my body up then spend 3-5 minutes stretching on my yoga mat from head-to-toe focusing more on my tightest muscles from sitting at a desk such as my glutes and hips. I find repeating the same stretches three times from side is what gets the kinks out and my muscles always feel more relaxed. It's one of the best things I do for myself every morning, I also try to do some stretching every evening before bed for a more enjoyable sleep.

Time: Approx. 5 mins


5. Make Your Bed- Nothing else will instantly make a bedroom look put together like making the bed itself. It's the focal point of the room, so leaving it unmade looks untidy and is the equivalent to staying in sweats all day which can affect your mood. I love to climb into a freshly made bed every night versus a messy pile of tangled sheets and blankets so this is something we do every morning upon waking and takes just a few minutes so there is no excuse. I find having a pretty bedding set along with accent pillows that you really like makes you look forward to seeing it perfectly made and fluffed. If you have an extra minute to spare, neaten up your nightstands while you're at it.

Time: Approx. 5 mins

6. Pull Yourself Together- If you work from home and don't need to shower for the day or are immediately dealing with small children, you may only have enough time to brush your teeth, cleanse your face, apply skin cream and pull your hair into a clip, so showering at night may be the better option. For everyone else, I recommend showering in the early morning to feel fresh for the day. Especially right now as we're all in quarantine, it may seem less necessary but I recommend doing it unless you are beginning your day with a run or intense workout first. Right now I've been letting my hair air dry half way while I work or spend time with Lily, then blow dry it and wear very light natural everyday make up, I do this for myself to feel good and polished.

Time: Approx. 17 mins


7. Get Dressed- Although I'm home daily now with our family as we social distance, I still want to look put together and be a role model for my daughter and simultaneously look put together for my sweetie, plus I just personally feel better when I'm wearing real clothes vs. pajamas. My daily quarantine outfits have ranged jeans plus a t-shirt, a zip up sweater with yoga pants and a tank top for a more athleisure look, or making a bigger effort by pulling out a casual dress or black jeans paired with a nice blouse. The days I do wear a dress, I feel more ladylike, feminine and sometimes sexy depending on the style, therefore I find that I carry myself differently. Obviously, this is not always practical such as during a bike ride with my little one or playing on the floor, but when I'm doing work at our dining room table. I've found that when I dress and feel my best, that extends to how I carry myself and also perform, as I take myself more seriously.

Time: Approx. 5 mins


8. Get Some Fresh Air & Sunshine- If you live in a home with a porch, balcony or backyard, I recommend drinking your morning hot drink or smoothie outside, if you are living in an apartment or another space without easy outdoor access, look for ways you can incorporate a walk to increase blood circulation and take in some fresh air when fewer people are outside or find a special spot to take in the morning sunlight. I'm grateful that while we don't have a backyard to call our own, we do have a rooftop deck and we have the option of a park nearby along the water where both of our bedrooms also face. lacing up a pair of sneakers and heading out for daily walks has really helped keep our spirits up while we've been mostly indoors these these past few weeks. Even with a mask on, feeling the sunlight hit your face and absorbing that vitamin D will do wonders as you begin your day.

Time: Approx. 10 minutes

9. Prioritize Your TO DO List- When I was younger I used to love making TO DO lists, it somehow made me feel extra productive to cross off a particularly long list of various activities. However, over the years I've learned that having a long list doesn't necessarily make anyone more productive, but do you know what does? Identifying the top 3 must-do's for my day. For everyone this will look different, but ask yourself if you got nothing else done, which 3 things would move the needle towards your biggest and most important goals? Make these the priority and everything else you get accomplished is just gravy. I find committing it via pen and paper in my planner helps me get more done. Personally, it might be getting one new blog post complete or drafting a new floor plan for an interior design project with a tight deadline or it might be shooting a week's worth of photography for upcoming content or creating and editing one particular video I've committed to as I collaborate with a brand, etc.

Time: Approx. 3 mins

10. Be Still- We all have things to be grateful for and what better time to meditate on positive thoughts than before be start another day! I recommend taking a few minutes daily to close your eyes and either pray, give thanks, recite positive daily affirmations or just be completely quiet and see what you hear and feel. What other time during your day will you have this much uninterrupted solitude without the demands of the day coming at you? This is your time to get centered and if you prefer, you could journal or write in a gratitude journal instead.

Time: Approx. 5 mins



I love learning how others do life and what shifts make them happier and more productive, and I believe you do too. I hope this will inspire and encourage some of you to try something new that will result in a more rewarding and uplifting day.

What key tips are part of your morning routine? Your can share them with us in the comments below.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

My Top 12 Quarantine Purchases from Amazon

There isn't a week that goes by at our house where we don't receive some kind of package from Amazon. It's where we buy the majority of our vitamins, Lily's toys, kitchen gadgets and my skincare purchases. Their fast and free shipping makes it an easy choice for our family. We order many of our weekly groceries online so they can be delivered to our home. We've been placing orders almost daily as I've been discovering new craft supplies and educational books that Lily can enjoy from home now that I'm homeschooling her during the quarantine.

Today I've rounded up 12 Things I bought from Amazon during the Quarantine for you. Perhaps some will be items you haven't thought of that will help make this time spent indoors more enjoyable while keeping you healthy!

1. Adult Coloring Books- I find coloring to be such a relaxing activity. I often sit and color pages or draw with Lily, but there are such a variety of adult coloring books available now for everyone including: animal lovers, those who love daily affirmations, interior design, or floral images, etc. I just ordered this one from my favorite interior DIY couples and I'm excited to color it in room by room once it's back in stock and arrives.

2. Blue Corn Beeswax Candles- If you love the ambiance and warmth from candles, but not the black smoke most emit, these all natural beeswax candles actually clean and ionize the air as they burn-perfect during quarantine as we all focus on staying indoors. Blue Corn make everything from votives, pillar and tealights to taper and jarred candles also. I was surprised to see that beyond the natural yellow, they also offer a black or white version to match your decor, I like the natural yellow hue.

3. Prismacolor Quality Coloring Pencils- You don't need to use a high quality version of pencil crayons to color, a package of Crayola will certainly do. However, if you decide to purchase a few color books or enjoy sketching and doing other drawings like I do, I recommend investing in a higher quality set of coloring pencils like Prismacolor pencil crayons if you want better results. As an art student in high school, I know they offer a large array of hues, the pencils themselves also sharpen much easier with the casing in tact providing less pencil tip breakage so they are really long-lasting. Better quality pencils also produce a softness that makes coloring and blending easier. This brand is also very high quality and provides a wider range of colors, both have excellent 5 star reviews.

4. Drip Drop- The day before Lily came home from school with a fever and flu symptoms, I just so happened to stock up on several of our usual medicines along with a big variety pack of Drip Drop. We always keep some on hand for our hot yoga classes and intense workouts and pop into our carry-on bags for travel. Drip Drop is a natural oral rehydration powder that you combine with water to prevent or treat dehydration. Lily loves all 3 flavors so they are the perfect thing to fill her water bottle up with when she has a fever and/or flu. It's safe, tastes great and is far better than Gatorade which is filled with artificial colors and drinks like Pedialyte which very often contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame.

5. Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher- When our in-fridge water filtration system stopped working, we knew we didn't want to buy bottled water which is not only expensive, but isn't environmentally-friendly, so we opted for this stainless steel reusable filter pitcher instead that would provide alkaline ionized water and not just filter out chlorine "taste", but actually filter out the chlorine, heavy metals, most of the fluoride from tap water as well as other contaminants. While I loved their beautiful glass version of our stainless steel pitcher, with a 6 year old always reaching for it daily it just seemed less practical and the stainless steel is food grade and corrosion-free plus both of these chic pitchers come with a long-life replaceable filter bag. We've been using ours for 3 weeks now and we all really love it!

6. Bach Rescue Remedy Spray- When the covid-19 news first broke in the U.S. I could feel my stress level rise and as we received our first confirmed case in San Francisco, I found myself more anxious and not sleeping at night so I immediately ordered Rescue Remedy Stress Relief spray, something I've used in the past and found helpful when I was pregnant which was recommended as safe by my Midwife. The Bach flower remedies all serve a specific purpose, this blend helps calm nerves with just a couple sprays under the tongue as needed throughout the day (also comes in dropper form or pastilles and there is a version for pets too).

7. Plant Therapy Immune Blend- Whether you diffuse essential oils into the air or enjoy wearing them on your body mixed into lotion or other carrier oils, there are great benefits. I recently discovered this immune-aid blend by Plant Therapy which someone recommend placing on the bottoms of your feet before adding socks and climbing into bed for immune-building and preventative measures. Especially during the winter months when all sorts of virus are going around, I like to take precautions with natural remedies. They also offer this winter set of 3 which includes a germ-fighter.

8. Hathaspace Hepa True Air Purifier- While a quality air purifier like our Hathaspace Smart True Help Air Purifier is essential if you have pets, live in a mold-prone humid climate or if you experience seasonal allergies, we bought ours specifically with virus' and potential mold in mind along with my sweetie's seasonal allergies. Although we have wood floors throughout (because carpet traps allergens), keep our home clean and don't have any pets, we purchased two of these units for our 1,300 sqft condo that we use in each of our 2 bedrooms and run them day/night. Since it's light, I can carry one downstairs easily to our main level and run it there too. I'm glad we bought both and I've noticed less sneezing when we began using it. Byron had a horrible flu for about 5 days back in February and we ran our Hathaspace unit day/night, even though I slept next to him every night Lily nor I picked up the bug, I attribute it to several things, including our new device. I love that it has 3 fan speeds (the lowest speed is so quiet I barely hear it) and there is a button to turn the display off at night while you sleep which was a huge selling point for me because I need a black room to sleep well.

9. Baking Pan- One thing that became clear from the first day of social-distancing and then eventually quarantine was that we weren't going to be eating out for a while including ordering take out for health safety reasons. Every meal was going to be prepared at home, and that meant having a stocked pantry and fridge as well as the right tools to prepare quick, healthy and delicious meals. While I often use glass dishes for roasting, baking pans like this are larger and far more versatile. They're the perfect solution for 5-ingredient meals where I can add chicken pieces, cubed sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and other veggies to a single tray, minimizing dishes an fuss at dinnertime. I also ordered this mini muffin/cupcake pan as Lily and I have been doing so much baking and the smaller portion sizes are more bite-sized for her and help us maintain our health.

10. Airborne Immune Gummies- Our entire family loves taking vitamins in gummy format. Since high potency and quality are important, we only do it with specific supplements, namely Immune gummies (we get this kids' version for Lily) and our melatonin gummies that we take before bed. Lily has the kids version and this is the adult version we take. The airborne gummies contain vitamin C as well as an herbal blend of immune-building ingredients such as echinacea and ginger.

11. Lemon Squeezer- I'm not sure why we didn't have this lemon squeezer in our kitchen drawer prior to quarantine, especially because we often drink hot water with lemon in the morning. However, once I began juicing lemons morning and night with vitamin C capsules mixed in as my DIY immunity drink (I prepare this when we run out of our Emergen-C packets) I knew there was a better way and it was so worth the tiny investment to eliminate all seeds and also press the maximum amount of lemon juice. It's easy to use and clean and should be in everyone

12. Epsoak Sleep Formula- If you already have lavender oil on hand as well as premium epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) then you may not need this, but if you prefer a prepared version for better sleep and relaxation that you can just pour into your bath, I recommend this particular Epsoak Sleep formula, they also have a unique detox+cleanse version if you're spending this time removing toxins from your body as well as a great foot soak! They also make a kids' sleep version, if you're a mama this is the perfect addition to your little one's peaceful bedtime routine.


Let's Socialize!

I'd love to know what your must-have purchases have been. Has anyone else been ordering almost daily from Amazon like me?


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