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Friday, May 31, 2013

Well who knew?!?! Vinegar!

It's crazy how much you can do with VINEGAR! 

I've been researching cleaner, safer and more natural cleaning remedies for our home.  Mostly because I recently suffered a diagnosis of psoriasis.  Don't worry, it's not contagious.  But it does attack your skin.  Which obviously sucks. Especially for someone like me who has always been very particular about what she puts on her skin, and hair.  Anyway,  I'm working on treating my psoriasis, including searching for natural remedies.  I'm not a big fan of pills (Anyone else think the commercials for some of these things are just ridiculous?!? Side Effect: Death. Ummm... no thanks). 

While researching natural cleaners and products I could use that wouldn't be bad for my skin skin, I came across the many uses for VINEGAR. 

Wow, who would have known?!?!? 

I was actually looking for a natural cleaner for our oak kitchen cabinets.  We are currently working on refacing our kitchen cabinets.  Read more about that here. The harsh chemicals in many of the cleaners recommended for use to remove oil, dirt and other residue were a major turn off to me.  Anyway, I found a safe natural cleaner for wood: Vinegar, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice! That's it. SIMPLE. SAFE. EFFECTIVE. I also read that if you mix baking soda into the mixture, it helps quite a bit! I didn't have any baking soda on hand, but I did try this using just White Distilled Vinegar, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and it worked so well, and has NO harsh chemicals.  The oil is actually great for wood. 

Works wonders and I had almost everything in my pantry! Thought I'd share a great article about the many uses for VINEGAR! I plan to pour a similar concoction into our toilets! But I also want to make homemade natural air freshners, and I'm even looking into making my own laundry detergent. Found this gem of an article on pinterest: Homemade Laundry Detergent!

Read more about the many uses of vinegar here. Enjoy! 

DIY Project: Kitchen Revamp - It Begins!

Most of you know that one of our major goals for 2013 is to finally update and really get our house into order - less 'cookie cutter' and more US!  Since moving in two years ago, we have been on baby mode.  We moved in and one week later gave birth to our beautiful son, Elijah.    
The truth of the matter is, there is a LOT to do.  But I LOVE my first home with my little family! We live in what I think is an ideal location for our first home, in a fairly large (almost 2600 square foot) ranch-style four bedroom, three bath home.  Our house, while fairly new, isn't as updated as we'd like.  But we knew, for the deal we were getting, we could do a lot of the work ourselves since it was all 'cosmetic.'  And to be honest, it's a LOT of fun! My close friends know that I think I missed my calling in either party planning or interior design.  I secretly wish I had my own TV show on the DIY Network or HGTV! ;)
All this week, we've scheduled out a plan.  When I say ' we've scheduled,' I really mean I was telling my husband all about my plans, and how I'd need him to help me execute said plans. Ah, the joys of marriage ;) It's okay, he knows I have a 'vision' and secretly loves it! 
Thus begins our DIY Project: KITCHEN REVAMP! 
Here are a couple BEFORE pictures.  We changed the paint color from a bright green to a neutral brown, which is also the same complementary color in other parts of our house.  Side Note: Ever go into someones house and think you're going to go blind with all the clashing colors?!?!? Yeah... me too!  While I have a bold taste for colors, I know that you have to use neutral complimentary colors to, for lack of a better word, 'compliment' the bold colors you choose.  Too many random colors from room to room is just too much and not pleasing to the eye.  I love the neutral tone we went with instead of the bright green.  With all the other color in our house, it's a nice break: 
I think it has good bones. Just needs some style! 
Here you can clearly see the boring white tile back splash
that we are soon replacing with a beautiful stone back splash
I didn't want to start the process too early and have kitchen that wasn't fully functional for more than a week.  With a toddler in tote, that would be rough, especially after tonight when we will have sealed off the kitchen from the rest of the house and begun sanding. Mind you, we are doing all of this while working full-time jobs, so the 'meat' of the project will be done Friday night, after work, and all day Saturday and Sunday.  

Wednesday we bought everything we needed (picture of our items coming soon)
Thursday we took everything out of our current kitchen cabinets, and wiped and cleaned from the inside out.  From all of our DIY research, we know it's important to give it a nice cleaning before getting started.  This will ensure you get rid of any oil, grease, and other residue buildup.  To tell you the truth - I'm so glad we did that! If anything, you don't realize the amount of crumbs (and crap) that will start to pile up in (and on) your cabinets. They are spic and span clean now! :) 
Everything has been removed, including the stove hood!
We are replacing it with a stainless steel one!
All the cabinetry has been wiped down with a natural wood cleaner.
The remnants of our kitchen now in our formal dining room. See, walls are still bare!
Friday, we begin the meat of the project! Which includes sealing off the kitchen from the rest of the house, removing all the doors and drawers of the cabinetry and sanding them all! Then we begin demo of the old boring white back splash.  
Stay tuned for more updates! In the meantime, the timeline above shows what the next few days are going to be like for us - and possibly longer if we don't reach our deadline tonight! 
If you can't get a hold of me for a few days, you know why... 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Let Go and Let Live! :)


Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to let go.  I've come to realize that it's true what they say ... some people come into your life as blessings, some as lessons - and some are only there temporarily.  And that's ok. 

I've learned a lot from the people who have come into my life.  Including that some just weren't meant to stay forever.  I've come to terms with it and I'm finding myself at peace.  I'm not perfect, but neither are they.  Sometimes, it's just how the cookie crumbles. 

I'm focusing my efforts on reconnecting with old friends, building relationships with likeminded people - and especially people who are supportive.  I have always been a firm believer in friendships being a two way street - when you start traveling on a one way avenue, the roadblocks are too much to deal with.  So rather than hold onto any resentment, anger and frustration, I have found a new found peace in old friendships, real girl friends, true laughter and joy.  

I'm spending my summer months reconnecting with old friends, building relationships, and most of all, with my amazing family! Pretty soon, Insha'Allah, we will be expanding our family, and I want to get in as much quality time with my lil' only child as I can :) 

#LetGoAndLetLive #LoveLife #SurroundYourselfWithHappyBeautifulPeople #AintNobodyGotTimeForAnythingElse #BlessedForAmazingFriends #AndEvenBetterFamily #Reconnecting #NoRegrets #MySonIsMyWorld #ThatsJustWhatItIs

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Elijah Turns Two!

When I was only five years old, we migrated from the Fiji Islands to California.  It was important for my parents that we remembered where we came from and always thought fondly of our roots.  So visiting Fiji yearly, if not every other year, was pretty much mandatory.  Not to shabby of a mandate, if you ask me.  I have the fondest memories growing up as a child. I got the best of both worlds - sunny, fun California - beautiful, chill Fiji.  Some of my fondest memories growing up in Fiji are of my nana packing all of us grand kids into a car and driving us up to Saveni beach - a local beach hangout.  All the parents would be following along in another car.  We would sing and laugh and make a trip out of the drive.  Once we got there, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves.  Saveni beach wasn't a tourist hangout.  There were a few bungalows for rent nearby, but for the most part, it was a beach mostly locals frolicked on.  When we went there for our family day trips - we'd tote along a pot of palau (indian food), corn on the cob, and blankets.  Life was simple. We didn't need much - just good food, close family and a lot of memories to be made.  I remember this time in my life very fondly.

Saveni Beach - a local beach hangout\
I wanted to recreate that for Elijah.  As he quickly goes from infancy to toddler hood, to ... I can't believe how fast he's growing. Sigh.  I want him to know that family always comes first.  That the best memories we'll make as a small family are close to home.  Because ultimately, home is always where your heart is.  Being in California, thousands of miles from Fiji, I am limited to taking him on day trips to Saveni beach, so instead I planned a day trip to Folsom Lake with close family to celebrate Elijah's 2nd birthday.

We had a blast! 

Avin, my husband, left early in the morning to make sure we snagged one of the best spots - under two large shady trees.  We had scoped this spot out with my brother a couple weeks earlier. ;)

We set up camp (day camp that is) - tables of food, drinks, sweet treats, and fun all sprawled out for the family.  I put together beach buckets for each of the kids instead of a traditional party favor.  Along with what it came with, I added big bottles of bubbles, and water guns.  We threw around beach balls and played in a beautiful semi-secluded sandy beach.  I'm glad we avoided some of the more commonly known beach areas at Folsom.  This location was great!

Here are some pictures of all of us hanging out for the day celebrating my beautiful son's 2nd birthday! xoxo

Driving up to Folsom Lake! Meeting Daddy who left early to get a good spot! 
The rest of the gang is on their way.
Check out my stylish nieces! Hahah, girls will be girls! 

Brother setting up our fun new raft! 
The kids were beyond excited out in the water!
Everyone was in a lifejacket  - safety first!

Elijah's cousins, Zeena and Sonia
Aji and Aja enjoying some grub. Muni Aunty is here too! 
My niece has a gorgeous smile!

So glad hubby rented a jet ski - everyone took turns and had a blast!
Definitely on our "we must purchase" list! 
Laila is such a lil' lady now!
Soni playing peek-a-boo in the shady shack!
We set up this area for naps :)
Nana with his grandkids - and furgrandchild, Harley!
Elijah and his cousin Sonia.
They are only 5 months apart and incredibly close!
One minute they are bff's and the next they are fighting! haha! 

Elijah chasing his eldest cousin, Laila.
Whenever my dad is around, Harley is by his side.
Grandpa and his furgrandchild! 
The kids had so much fun! 
My amazing brother and sister-in-law!
Our families are very close!
My brother and I have an unspoken rule, always keep the families close! 

Best sister I could ask for! She loves Elijah like he is her own.
She is his definitely his second mama!

Seeing that twinkle in my son's eyes as he sunk his cute toes into the sand and made sand castles was a great reminder - I am truly blessed. I have a great family, a beautiful son and a wonderful husband.  Making memories full of laughter and love is what life is all about! xoxo 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dun Dun Daaaaah... Vaccinate!

I'm a firm believer in vaccinations in children.  Working with medical professionals, including some very well-renowned doctors here in Sacramento, Ca., and some in my own family, I know the risks of NOT vaccinating your child outweigh the risks of vaccinating them.  The worst are the claims that vaccinations cause autism.  This one irks me the most - because its a claim that has been spread like wildfire amongst moms seeking a more 'natural' philosophy in raising their children, or by those parents dealing with the difficulties of a child who has autism BUT the theory is based on a FALSE scientific study that was discredited and has since been retracted.  That's what annoys me the most - the theory has been scientifically discredited and retracted yet people still want believe in it. I guess facts, such as scientific backing, are not that important. I do understand how difficult it must be to have a child with autism and as a parent you may want to hang onto any glimmer of understanding as to why this happened to your child.  But I would hope if that were to happen to me, I could stick to the facts and not false theories.

Then there are the parents who believe that pumping their children with ingredients constructed through the Big Bad Pharmaceutical Company are so dangerous that they would rather fill their kids with vitamin C hoping it will fight off deadly diseases. Com'on. Really?

I understand it is a personal choice and the bottom line, parents on both sides of the spectrum, I feel, truly have the best interest of their child in mind.

That being said, I cannot reiterate the importance of vaccinations.  In fact, I won't... just read this. It's a no-bullshit-straight-to-the-point perspective on the importance of vaccinations, written by a doctor to all parents.

I love this part the most:

California recently endured the largest whooping cough outbreak in 65 years, sickening almost 9,500 people and killing 10 infants. So far this year, there have been more cases of measles in the United States than any year since 1996. This is not a harmless disease — 40% of people who get it need to be hospitalized. 
You may think your children seem just fine without their vaccinations, but that's because of a phenomenon called "herd immunity." Let's say you live in a neighborhood where every kid has been immunized except yours. There's hardly any chance little Billy will contract whooping cough when he's out with his buddies because all of them are immune. In essence, this is immunization-by-proxy, and it takes advantage of everyone else's immunity. Rather than taking the high ground, you're sponging off the other parents on the block who chose to do the responsible thing. If, on the other hand, all the parents behaved like you and Susie came down with whooping cough, it would spread like wildfire through the playground. 
You need to understand that your child does not live in a vacuum. He or she interacts with others everywhere. Unvaccinated children can be the vehicles for introducing deadly diseases into communities. Children with compromised immune systems who cannot be vaccinated are especially vulnerable.
Oh and this part: 
If you want an unbiased view, I can direct you to a whole bunch of people who would be happy to fill you in: our senior citizens. They lived with the fear of these dread diseases (one octogenarian told me his dad took a 1,000-mile detour around Chicago when he heard there was a polio outbreak there in the 1930s). They rallied around a president stricken with polio (for those who need a history refresher, it was Franklin D. Roosevelt). They lost children and other loved ones to the diseases you are so nonchalant about. These are the ones who line up for their annual flu shots and ask when they are due for any other immunizations they may need. Yes, they have a healthy respect for these diseases. I wish you could catch some of their fear.
Those of you who know me may recall that I used to be a veterinarian. Vaccination is hugely important in the animal world as well. You wouldn't dream of allowing your dog to skip his rabies shot, on the off chance that he gets into a tussle with an infected bat. All I am asking is that you treat your children as well as your pets. 
Now go vaccinate your child for heaven's sake.  By not doing so, you're not only putting YOUR child at risk of death, but other children at risk as well!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I came across a video on Facebook today about a young man named Zach Sobiech.  Zach found out he had a rare form of terminal cancer at the ripe age of 14.  Instead of letting cancer beat him, he beat cancer, by living his life.  And he did it so beautifully. 

I dare you not to cry after watching Zach’s story.  I cried.  In fact, I sobbed.  To say Zach’s story moved me would be an understatement.  It really put many things into perspective for me. 

Life is so short.  We never know when our time is up.  We only know that we are here, for whatever undetermined amount of time.  And we know we have that time to live.  We can choose to live by doing things to harm and hurt others – to belittle and hate, to be angry and resentful, OR we can be happy.  We can spend our days making others smile and feel good. 

It’s our choice. 
I choose to be happy. 
And I am choosing to live my life making others happy. 

I want to watch my son grow into a beautiful young man and my family and dearest friends flourish with laughter and smiles. 

I know I am not perfect.  I know I have made many mistakes. But I also know that my intentions were never to maliciously harm anyone.  I have learned that life is a lesson – and we can learn so much, even through loss.  Instead of basking in my sorrows and hating myself for any mistakes I have made, I choose to live.  I choose to be happy and surround myself with those that want to be happy also.  Life is too short. 

I am not wasting another minute.  I choose to be happy. 

Thank you, Zach – for being a beautiful person and putting so much into perspective for the millions of people that have viewed your story.

To view Zach’s beautiful story, click here.

RIP Zach Sobiech - Died May 20, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fat to Fit

As I plan a small get-together for my son’s second birthday party in a week, I was looking through pictures of his 1st birthday bash.  Boy, was that a great day! We had a Sesame Street theme party for him in our newly made over backyard, which included a jumping castle, Elmo visiting, a clown making balloon animals and singing and dancing along with the 30+ children ages 8 and under. I had activity stations including a table to color and draw, a tattoo parlor with cute fake tattoos, and other fun things for the kids to keep themselves busy.  Of course there was a nice lil’ candy buffet also.  It was a LOT of fun.  Elijah had a blast, and so did all the adults who attended, including my husband and I. 

Elijah dancing with his buddies while Elmo coordinates a sing-along :)
Elijah smashing his "smash" cake for his birthday!
As I was looking through pictures from that amazing day, I saw pictures of myself and I was a little bit taken aback.  Why had no one told me how fat I was?  Ha! Just kidding.  It would have been hurtful for someone to point that out, as a mom of a one year old.  Granted, being a “mom” is not an excuse for poor nutrition and exercise habits, it still would have been hurtful.  Thank you for NOT pointing out what I already knew – I was fat. 

Family photo with Elmo - I am 30+ pounds heavier here than I am today
I have struggled with weight most of my life – on and off. I've always been the "cute, chubby" one of my cousins, and most of my friends. In high school, I was a size 7-8 when most of the girls I knew were rockin' size zero's, two's and four's.  That was tough.  I didn't think I looked 'fat' and I was pretty active, but I sure did feel fat in a sea of students who looked like they could be my 8 year old sibling - I don't have an 8 year old sibling. My weight peaked during my pregnancy when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my third-trimester. Asian women (this includes Indian women - such as myself) are susceptible to gestational diabetes simply because of the race specific traits carried in our genes. In those three months, I gained over 30 lbs. It was very difficult. Not only on my body, but emotionally.  After Elijah’s birth, I, like many moms, dropped a lot of weight through breastfeeding and just delivering a baby.  But alas, a year later, I was still far from my pre-pregnancy weight.  Thankfully, I have a great support system, which has constantly made me feel good about who I am and not made me feel bad for being overweight.  I have known I needed to lose weight – not just for my health, but because I wanted to look and feel good.  However, I just did not have the energy to fully commit.

You really have to commit to wanting something before you can really achieve it.  At least, I do. 

A few months after Elijah's 1st birthday, around September of 2012, I decided enough was enough.  I was tired of not being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and I was even more tired of buying BIGGER clothes.  It was time for a change.

I recalled my past - Cabbage soup diet. Tried it. Atkins. Tried it. Weight Watchers. Tried it. Sort of. Mostly I did them for a very short amount of time because I wanted quick results, and was discouraged when I didn't get them. I know that some of these may work for some people, but they didn't work for me. Although, I do think Weight Watchers is a great support system for people who need to lose weight, I also think if you have the drive, desire and commitment to lose weight, you don't have to pay a company $11 a week (or whatever it is now) to help you get there. Reluctantly, I can admit now that I've tried diet pills that I knew were dangerous for me. As soon as your heart starts racing to a point where you feel like you're going to pass out, you know you're not doing what's best for you.  And no matter how much I wanted to lose weight, I didn't want to die trying.  I want to be healthy - not skinny. Let's make that very clear.  I know my journey to get to my final goal weight/size will occur slowly (but surely) because I'm not making drastic changes. I'm not "dieting" and I'm not looking for a quick fix.  I realize that it took me years to put all this weight on, even though a large portion of it was during my pregnancy; therefore, it's going to take some time to take it off.  I also realize that it's detrimental to my health and well-being for me to continue this journey.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the leading causes of death for Asian or Pacific Islander women in the 25-34 age group (I am 31) is cancer (22.3%), suicide (14.5%),  influenza & pneumonia (5.4%), heart disease (3.9%), and stroke (3.9%).  The numbers don't seem very daunting, but they only increase with age.  The leading causes of death for Asian or Pacific Islander women in the 65+ age group is heart disease (25.8%), cancer (22.3%), stroke (9.1%), and diabetes (4.2%).  Throw in your family health history and it really becomes an eye opener.

In January, I asked my primary care physician to conduct a full blood panel on me.  I wanted to see what deficiencies I had, and where I was at most risk.  Thankfully, I was given a great bill of health - especially after dropping a lot of weight in a short amount of time.  My blood pressure was excellent, my thyroid was regulated and I had no issues with blood sugar (diabetes), which I had during my pregnancy.  I still felt the need to get this done, because I had found out, through my parents, we had a long history of stroke, cancer, heart disease, and even cataracts in my family.

I do not want to die at the ripe age of 63 like my loving nana (mother's father) did in Fiji when I was only seven years old.  I do not want to die of ovarian cancer like my dadi (father's mom) did in her 70s, and I do not want to have two strokes in my early 50s like my father-in-law has.  I know these are risks that not only run in my own family history, but my husband's and every Indian family I know.

I do not want to be a statistic.  

I decided diets do not work, not for me anyway I do not want quick, temporary results.  I want a lifestyle change, and I want to set a good example for my son.  I do not want him to think that eating french fries is the end of the world, but I also do not want him to think that he could eat that way often and lead a healthy lifestyle.  So I began eating healthier foods and working out more consistently.  I have hit many roadblocks and fallen off track a few times where I will go two or three weeks without working out while eating like crap.  But by the end of that week I would feel completely disgusting. When you feel heavy, fat, and unhealthy it can really weigh on you. No pun intended. In all seriousness, my body has started to reject the 'bad' foods I consume, when I do, by the nausea and headaches that take over. That's a clear sign to me - don't put that crap in your body!

Now, I refuse to go more than 3 or 4 days without working out.  I just can’t.


Here I am... the picture on the left is on my son's 1st birthday, May 2012.  The picture on the right is today, May 2013, one week before my son’s 2nd birthday.  I am approximately 35 lbs lighter (I stopped getting on the scale so I lost track).  I have dropped three pants sizes, and many inches off my waste, arms and thighs.  My arms don’t look like thighs anymore!  Ha!  (You have to be able to laugh at yourself).  Subsequently, I have dropped my body fat percentage quite a bit and although I have a long way to go, I am excited for my progress!

I currently workout at least 3 days a week but more consistently and realistically, I work out 5-6 days a week.  This includes 30-60 minutes of cardio (depending on my schedule), and 3 days of toning and ab workouts.  I started going to boot camp, but then stopped for awhile, due to a hectic schedule (we're always busy on the weekends and it became tough to make it to the classes consistently), but I am going to try to go back very soon. I am also trying to get more into Yoga for my mental health and Pilate's for added toning.  But my main focus is CARDIO, CARDIO, CARDIO - and full body toning exercises.  I believe the HIIT routines work best for fat loss.  HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  Working out in the evening, after work, is tough for me. I pick up my son after work, get home before my husband is home, start dinner, and we begin the mad dash of the evening routine.  By the time Elijah is going down to sleep, I am exhausted. Definitely too exhausted to jump on a treadmill for an hour! Therefore, I decided the best thing for me to do was to go to bed around the same time Elijah goes to bed (he goes to bed around 8:30-9pm and I lay with him until I fall asleep around 9:30pm-10pm) so that I can wake up at 4:30am and work out for an hour before getting ready for work.  

This has worked wonders for me. I know early mornings aren't for everyone, but I have always been a morning person, so for me, training myself to wake up even earlier was hard but doable.

I have a long way to go, but I'm excited and determined to continue! There are tons of great free resources online, including on YouTube. Check them out! 

Follow my journey and feel free to ask any questions along the way! If you look through old posts, you'll find other 'progress reports' with tips as well as other posts of healthy meals and foods I make and buy :) 

I hope I can inspire others as so many have inspired me! 

Wish me luck! :)

Progress over Perfection

finally something that actually works

True that!