An Experiment in Slowing Down This Week

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Knowing When to Refuel

Last week I reached a “put a fork in me” kind of DONE. The past month has been a stressful one and everything finally caught up with me.

Has that happened to you?  Gotten to the point when you feel like you are running on fumes?

I swear my kids have a radar that detects when mom is not her usual “Julie the happy Cruise Director” self (old Love Boat reference for any younger readers as I realize how much I am aging myself)  because my oldest who is ultra-sensitive will inevitably pick up on my bad energy, and will meet mine with hers in response.

It’s a bad cycle.

hair One morning last week, after waking up to a broken coffee machine (the HORROR), and a Groundhog Day disagreement about a certain hairstyle she insists on wearing (which reminds me of a this movie character, minus the braids) I had a moment where I just felt, defeated.

It wasn’t really about the broken coffee machine or her ratty hair in a stubby top knot and finished off with a bow, it was the realization of just how stressed out I have been.

One Heck of a Couple Weeks

My dad was hospitalized back on April 13th with heart symptoms.

After four days in the hospital for observation, it was determined he needed a valve replacement surgery and a pacemaker and was transferred up to a hospital in LA for the surgery.

He was in the hospital for two weeks; 10 days of which were up in LA off the 101. Which meant a lot of commuting and a lot of stress and worry.

My dad has been home now for a couple of weeks and is doing GREAT. Thank God.

I have been so blessed to have two parents in good health, so it was the first time I had to “go there” in my head.

I was hit with the reality that one day my parents won’t be with me anymore.  My dad and I are kindred spirits and I can’t imagine my life without him.

The relief I felt when he was finally home was immeasurable.

During this time, I never really took the time to process everything I was going through emotionally. I threw myself into “logistical” mom mode, coordinating who could take my kids to help while we were at the hospital.

When he got home, I threw myself back into normal life, but felt behind in work and personal stuff, so I ran even faster than normal to try to catch up, resulting in a stressed out mom.

It finally hit me on that coffee maker morning that nothing, nothing I am stressing about right now really matters. But when you are overextended and overstressed, even the littlest things can trigger big stressful reactions. For nothing!

What matters is my dad is home.

This kind of stress is not good for anyone ~ for myself or my family. Something needed to be done, I was committed to turning things around.

Time to Refuel 

Every day I feel a compulsion to be productive every single minute and I can feel guilty if I don’t use that time for things that need to be done.

I am going to try an experiment this week and attempt to really slow down and take a mini mommy vacation.

No, I will not be on a tropical island sipping a Pina Colada or spending my days at the spa. Rather, I will be doing carpool, shuttling kids to activities, volunteering in the classroom, my normal stuff. But during the day when I don’t HAVE to be doing something, I’m not going to.

Just typing that sentence made me feel good.

Really good.

During the preschool hours when my house is kidless, I might read a book, watch a morning show (is Regis still on?!), or meet a friend for a walk or a coffee.

There will definitely be take-out involved and I might have to buy my kids more underwear to go a week without doing the laundry.

I am going to take a break from my phone and the constant dinging. I am going to resist checking my email. Maybe once a day at most. We will see how that goes, but I am going to try!

I hope to keep a journal this next week with what it feels like to slow down. A real, write it down in actual pencil sort of journal. I have a feeling it’s going to be hard for me, because I am so programmed to GO GO GO.  All of the time. But it’s time to refuel.

Just wanted to let you know why there weren’t more new posts this week like usual. But we will be back next week like normal, hopefully with some slow down enlightenments to share.

Have a wonderful week mamas. And if you are feeling overstressed for any reason this morning, I too, give you permission to give yourself a slow down kind of day…

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Get Your Grill On [Giveaway!]

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Brined pork chop recipe

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the National Pork Board 

Nothing makes me happier than the official arrival of grilling season.  In sunny SoCal we truly can grill year round, but I particularly love spring time when we can embrace the arrival of even warmer temps, lighter nights and weekend BBQ’s with friends firing up the grill while the kids run around.

To celebrate, I have an amazing grilling giveaway today from the National Pork Board and Kroger‘s which includes:

$250 Kroger (Ralph’s) Gift Card
Two Grilling Prep Trays from Williams Sonoma
Tong/Spatula Set
Grilling Mitt & Apron
Basting Brush
Digital Thermometer

Hello ultimate Father’s Day gift (enter below!)

Susanne and her husband recently had my family over for a Sunday afternoon barbecue to test out a new brined pork chop recipe and let me tell you, she makes a TOP chop! Hopefully this post inspires you to invite some family or friends over to try it out for yourself.

But before we get into the recipe (which you have to try – total crowd pleaser), I wanted to share a current contest going on where the winner gets a $15,000 backyard makeover!

#ChopGriller Contest 

Do you think YOU have a top chop?

In only 140 characters, enter the reason why you think you make the best chop in the neighborhood in the #ChopGriller contest by May 16th, 2014 and you might be grilling in the backyard of your dreams!

The winner will receive $15,000 toward a backyard makeover, a summer’s worth of free pork and a Large Big Green Egg® in Mahogany Table, Custom EGG® Tools and Big Green Egg Organic Lump Charcoal.

Click here for #ChopGriller contest details and to enter.

Chop Shoppin’ 

Susanne has been on a mission to help me learn to cook for some time now, so I joined her at our local Ralph’s, the ultimate source for barbecue essentials, to get some tips on shopping for her menu, which was to include brined New York Pork Chops, grilled peaches, cous cous and a balsamic Burrata salad.


There were prepackaged chops in the refrigeration section and also chops available at the butcher counter.

The National Pork Board adopted several new cut names last April to match the names of familiar cuts of beef for easier identification and preparations. For Susanne’s recipe, we went for the prepackaged New York Pork Chop, a boneless cut, formerly known as the Top Loin, or Center Cut.

The prepackaged chops were thinner than the ones behind the counter, so Susanne opted for the thinner variety.

Ralph’s had it on sale at $2.99/lb which means we got 9 New York Pork Chops for only $9.30! Very inexpensive way to feed a group, right?!

Susanne’s New York Pork Chop Recipe 

To infuse the most flavor into the chops, Susanne made a brine for the chops to marinate in for a couple hours before cooking.

Any lean, dry meat, like a pork chop is a great candidate for brining, which enhances flavor and adds moisture.


Pork Chop Brine Recipe

9 New York Pork Chops

1 c brown sugar

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

4 T Kosher Salt

2 T garlic powder

1/2 T black peppercorns

1 T allspice (whole)

2 T dried marjoram (or dried thyme)

2 t dry mustard

1/8 t red pepper flakes

ice cubes

Pork Chop Brine Instructions 

1.  In a medium saucepan bring all ingredients to a simmer (except pork chops and ice cubes- ha!)  Stir until sugar and salt has dissolved.  Remove from heat and pour over ice cubes to cool.

2.  Once cooled, place New York Pork Chops in the liquid and refrigerate, brining for 1-2 hours.

3.   Remove New York Pork Chops from the brine, pat dry with a paper towel,  lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and rub with a touch of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Grill It Like a Steak!

Grilling a New York Pork Chop is very easy, you simply grill it like a steak!

Susanne cooked them on a medium heat grill, and turned a total of 4 times, for 2 minutes every turn, to give them the nice grill hashmark.  The length of time you want to cook depends on the thickness.  Click here for an easy cooking times and temps guide.

When you’ve finished grilling, cover the pork chops with foil and let them rest for 3 minutes before serving.


Here is my husband who was the inspired “SUS Chef”!


Important note: you don’t want to overcook pork or it will be too dry.

The recommended internal temp for our chops was between 145°F degrees (medium rare) and 160°F degrees (medium) followed by a 3 minute rest time, so Susanne was careful to monitor the temperature to take them off the grill at the right temperature.

A good digital meat thermometer is essential when grilling pork.


Then it was time to grill the accompanying peaches.

Grilled Peaches Recipe 

4 peaches, quartered, pit removed

2 t maple syrup

2 t balsamic vinegar

2 t brandy (or sherry wine)

2 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil

salt + pepper

fresh basil, rinsed and torn for serving

Grilled Peaches Instructions

Toss the peaches the rest of the ingredients about 15 mins before ready to grill (except basil).

Grill until just browned and caramelized, turning frequently to maintain the structure of the peach.  Remove from grill and return to the balsamic/maple liquid.

grilled peaches

And look how pretty it turned out to serve on a platter family style with some fresh basil leaves…

familystylechops The meal was served on a bed of cous cous with a refreshing salad of crisp greens with Burrata cheese on the side.

The whole group, including my two picky kiddos, gave it a thumbs up!


Crisp Greens Salad with Burrata Cheese Recipe

Mixed baby greens (we chose one with baby kale)

2 packages Burrata cheese (drained from liquid, dried with paper towels)

1/2 thinly sliced onion, marinated in red wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar to remove the over whelming onion taste.

whole almonds, toasted and roughly chopped

balsamic vinaigrette (you favorite from the store or make your own!)


The entire meal was light and perfect for a warm afternoon.

The combination of the sweet peaches with the brine flavor packed a flavorful punch.  All of the flavors on the plate played so well together, it was fun mixing different ingredients on the plate to make each bite a little different.  Creamy Burrata and crunchy almonds with a bite of pork and peaches- YUM!

Happy grilling from our families to yours!



Grilling Giveaway! 

One lucky winner will receive $250 Kroger (Ralph’s) Gift Card, two grilling prep trays, tong/spatula set, grilling mitt & apron, basting brush and digital thermometer! Good luck and happy grilling!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the National Pork Board. We also received the above grilling giveaway items to assist with the writing of this post. 

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The 29th California Women’s Conference

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California Women's Conference 2014


The 29th California Women’s Conference 2014 is coming to the Long Beach Convention Center on May 19th-20th, 2014 and believe me when I tell you, it is going to be an amazing two days.

This conference is all about inspiring and connecting women, featuring programs, talks and presentations on business, personal development, health and wellness, and philanthropic endeavors.

The event will feature widely respected thought leaders, talented entertainers, networking opportunities, and a marketplace full of ideas, exhibits and panel discussions.

A Note to Moms from the Conference President…

As written by Michelle Patterson, president of The California Women’s Conference and fellow conference speaker Sheri Riley, the creator of Exponential Living

As moms, our top priority is our family.  If you’re anything like many moms today, you often struggle to give your family the time they deserve.

Three challenges many mothers face are:

– When you are with your family, you fight the feeling of getting behind at work…

– When at work, you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your family…

– When you are spending time with your family, you have to focus on making sure you are really
present and not just in their presence.

Whether you are a wife, mother, daughter, stay-at-home mom, or have a professional career, life/work integration is not easy, but there are ways to make it simpler.

There are some key principles that will help you make choices that align with your number one priority: your family.

Exponential Living empowers people to make intentional choices and a daily commitment to pursue internal peace that leads to less stress more clarity and a more fulfilling life.

These are three principles of the nine in Exponential Living, to empower people to stop spending 100% of their time on 10% of who they are:

– Healthy Living is about More Than Diet!

– Happy is a Choice; Contentment and Joy are Lifestyles

– Build Lasting Confidence

So many of us are working everyday to fully integrate our personal dreams, our family commitments, and our career responsibilities.

Committing our time to personal growth is the best example for our children…and that personal and professional development is more than academics.

Empowering women

Does all of this sound familiar?  I know it does to me.

This is just one of the many, many topics that will be covered, discussed, shared and presented.  Check out all of their fabulous speakers, including Arianna Huffington, Jane Pauley, Jack Canfield, Rosie Perez, and Lisa Nichols.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the California Women’s Conference 2014, visit

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Yoga and Total Body Wellness at Dantian Studio

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Dantain Studio_5 [Sponsor]

Have you ever walked in somewhere…and immediately felt at peace?  This rarely happens to me (probably because I always have two kiddos in tow)…but it did this week, and I have to share.  When I stepped into Dantian Studio, subtle candles were lit, soft instrumental music was playing, it was bright and airy, and I was looking at lovely little inspirational sayings and artwork on the wall.

The craziness of my morning started to fade.  My blood pressure started to lower.

Dantian Studio is a beautiful wellness studio in Costa Mesa that specializes in small group fitness classes, as well as traditional and newly emerging natural therapies, which focus on a client’s complete well-being.  And, here’s the great news – Dantian Studio is offering a FREE fitness class to anyone who mentions this Tiny Oranges blog!

Fitness at Dantian Studio

Jaime Hynes, Dantian Studio’s owner, has created a very tranquil, very intimate studio space.  She wants to make sure that every client receives personal attention.  This means small fitness classes, hand-picked instructors and attention to detail…down to working with you on your correct alignment in class.

I had the opportunity to chat with Jaime about her philosophy on total health and well-being, and it was refreshing to hear how passionate she is about health – for people of all ages.  She’s a mama too, so she’s all too familiar with the typical craziness we moms take on each day.

I found out that “dantian” actually means “energy center.”  And, that’s the focus of this studio:  “The positive energy center. Relax your mind. Strengthen your body. Heal your soul.”

Next up, I took a Yoga Pilates class with Michelle, and let me tell you – every knot and kink in my body was released, my breathing was regulated, and I felt centered (which was good…because after class I had carpools, homework time with my daughter, a scheduled playdate, and a volunteer commitment.)

To begin, Michelle asked me about my fitness background and if I had any questions or concerns before we started class – I found this really helpful, because I do have some past injuries that I baby.

Then, the instruction itself was relaxed and tailored to my needs.  Because they keep the classes so small (no more than 8-10 people per class at a time…and sometimes smaller), you really get that personal attention.  The morning I took class, I had the awesome chance to have a one-on-one with Michelle, so I really enjoyed a class that was tailored to my needs.

The fitness room is light, airy, clean, and comfy.  The floor is cushiony, soft music is playing, and water is available in the room.  I was a little nervous at first…it had been quite awhile since I had done anything that resembled Yoga…but Michelle helped me relax and go at my body’s pace.  At this studio, they cater to all levels.

My little man even got in on the Yoga fun toward the end!

Dantain Studio_3

Dantian Studio also has a Pilates Reformer room…with just four reformer machines.  This is on purpose – those small classes and personal attention is a priority at this studio.

Classes they offer include:

Crosscore 180
Crosscore 180 vs. TRX

Yes, they have childcare

There is childcare available if you need to bring your child with you.  It’s a cute little room with comfy beanbag chairs, a playmat, stuffed animals, coloring book and crayons, and bags of toys.  Great for smaller-aged kids.  When you register online for class, make sure to register for babysitting, too.  They are happy to provide childcare when needed for class.

And, there’s more…

Not only do they offer small fitness classes, but they also provide holistic, healing therapies, body treatments,  aesthetic services, massage therapy, and waxing and eyelash extensions.  Pamper yourself, and check out all of their services!

Dantian Studio’s Promo – Try a FREE Class!

Just mention this blog, and enjoy a free fitness class or Pilates Reformer class…PLUS babysitting!  Visit their class schedule page and look for the class you want.  Register online (for BOTH the fitness class and babysitting request), and when you walk into the studio, just let the front desk know you are a Tiny Oranges reader to get the complimentary class.

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Facialworks 40 Minute Oxygen Facials [Giveaway!]

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Facialworks review


Last Friday I had the opportunity to visit a local beauty spot everyone has been talking about, Facialworks luxury oxygen facial bar in Newport Beach, for one of their specialty 40 minute oxygen facials.

Facialworks is also treating one lucky winner this Mother’s Day with a giveaway for two oxygen facials in honor of Mother’s Day. Make sure to enter below!


What is Facialworks all about? 

Facialworks had me at the concept alone.

Their facials are done at a fun bar with the goal to get you cleansed, hydrated and radiant in just 40 minutes. In and out.

That’s right mamas. No big time commitment, no downtime, and no stretching the truth to your hubby about the cost because their 40 minute facials start at only $35.

Yes, $35, which includes a cleanse, exfoliation, masque, oxygen infusion, hydration and finishing touches.

If you are so inclined, you can add on some extras like the NuFace Microcurrent Facial Lift treatment (+$20), Double Oxygen infusion (+$10) and Glo Minerals Airbrush Make-up (+$20).


What to Expect at Facialworks 

When I walked in, I was immediately taken with the decor. Their modern color palette of soft grays and turquoise is right up my alley, and the cool loungey music added to the ambiance.

I was given a menu of services to select my choice of different things like type of cleanser preferred (gentle or exfoliating), did I want a Clarisonic cleanse? tinted or non-tinted SPF finish? etc.

Or, you can leave it up to your Facialworks skinSTYLIST.


Facialworks Oxygen Facials 

The first thing I wanted to ask was, “what exactly IS an oxygen facial?”

From their website, I learned oxygen facials use the power of hyperbaric oxygen to infuse serum into the skin. The oxygen concentrators create a pressure bubble on the surface of the skin which aids in deep absorption of the custom serum, resulting in glowing, tight skin.

They might have lost me at the word hyperbaric, but the point is, the oxygen makes your skin really pretty. That’s all I need to know!


My skinSTYLIST started with a cleanse, then did a Clarisonic exfoliation and masque.

Facialworks treated me to the upgrades so it was then time for NuFace, in which a little microcurrent stimulates the muscles underneath the skin resulting in toning and firming of surface lines.

Music to almost 40 year old ears.

After that, it was time for the serum spray and oxygen, both of which were very relaxing.  The oxygen almost felt like cool water being blown on my face, but there was no moisture coming from the wand.  It was wild.

She ended with a moisturizer, and my face felt like silk. The treatment was extremely gentle and I had little redness. I have to say my skin felt amazing.


Walk Out Radiant 

One of my not so favorite things about facials is how I can sometimes look red afterwards, with all my blemishes exposed for the world to see.

With the airbrushed make-up application, I was able to walk out looking ready to hit the town (or more realistically, ready to run into moms at preschool pick up).

Then all I needed then was some eyes and lips and I was ready for Friday date night.

Affordable Luxury 

Many times facials are cut from the budget and considered a luxury for many, including myself.

However, at a $35 price point, it makes it more affordable to take care of your skin on a more regular basis.

Mother’s Day Promotion & Giveaway

Book a facial for you and your mom this Saturday and Sunday (May 10th and 11th) and you will receive a free NuFace Microcurrent upgrade. You will love it. I really could see the difference when she showed me the one side of my face she worked on versus the other.

Facialworks also offers gift certificates if you want to treat a special mom in your life to an oxygen facial.

Hooray! It’s a Giveaway!  

In honor of Mother’s Day, Facialworks is giving away two 40-minute oxygen facials to one lucky winner to take her mom or a girlfriend ($70 value.) Enter below, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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