April 23, 2017

Why I am Reevaluating My Skincare Routine

Disclosure: I was provided free Spa Services from Salon Greco in exchange for an honest review of my experience. 

I consider myself a skincare junkie. I have far too many tubes of eye creams, samples of moisturizers, face peels galore, and tons of the latest over-the-counter, quick-fix type solutions that promise to make me look like anything other than the extremely tired mom of two that I am. The problem is, these piles of products are the beginning and end of my skincare regime. I do not see a dermatologist, I never get facials, I just do not do any of the work to actually see my skin improve in look, texture, color, or firmness. Basically, I am doing the skincare equivalent of diligently eating a salad every day only to wash it down with a large Coke and a candy bar. I decided it was time to make some serious changes.

The enterance to the spa at Salon Greco in Suwannee, GA

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that I had the opportunity to visit the award winning, Salon Greco The European Day Spa in Suwannee, Georgia a couple weeks ago. There I was treated to a Greco Facial Treatment and a Swedish Massage. I kicked things off with the facial. After slipping on a robe and slippers, I relaxed with a glass of refreshing, fruit-infused water. Monica, my aesthetician, came by shortly after and we began talking about my skincare goals. It was like I had been struck by lightning - was I actually supposed to have goals for my skin? My goal in life is to get through the laundry, and that is already difficult enough, but I digress. I quickly realized I have been slathering on goop and gel and oil and lotion all with the intention of better-looking skin, but all with no real concept of what I wanted to improve upon from a skincare standpoint. After quick consideration, I knew I wanted to focus on my eye area, which at age 32 is already wrinkled and baggy. I also told Monica that I wanted to improve the tone and color of my skin since it tends to get red, especially on my cheeks and around my nose.

Monica escorted me to a private, comfortable room and after laying down, she began to examine my face and neck. She was quick to mention that my pores were very clogged and I needed to be more diligent with an exfoliator - using one at least three times a week. Since I do not typically treat myself to facials, I went with a standard facial - The Greco Facial. It is perfect for men and women who want relaxation, skin cleansing, and rejuvenation. However, she mentioned that Salon Greco recently started performing Hydra Facials, which provide a much deeper clean and are significantly less painful if you need extractions because they are done with a machine and not by hand. She noted that with the Hydra Facials you instantly notice an improvement in your skin's overall texture and firmness. She recommends clients get them in sets of three, to achieve the best results.

Salon Greco in Suwannee, Georgia offers Hydra Facials

That got me thinking, should I be getting a spa-facial more often? I always thought of spa treatments as luxury, quiet time and not necessarily an investment in my skin. Boy, was I wrong. Monica explained, how skin cells rejuvenate every 28 days and it is best to treat your skin to the purifying benefits of a facial every 4-6 weeks to avoid premature aging. Plus, as we age the time between cell rejuvenation extends, leading to a reduction in firmness and an increase in visible wrinkles.

One of the most interesting things Monica mentioned during my facial was that Salon Greco carries a line of luxury skincare products typically only found in five-star hotels. The line is named Babor and as Monica gently applied their masks, tinted moisturizer, eye cream, cleanser, and toner she explained each step of the process. The products went on easily and smelled fantastic. At the end of my facial, my skin glowed and was soft to the touch. Monica wrote me a "prescription" for future visits and suggestions for skincare products to help me achieve my newly-developed skincare goals. Of all the products she prescribed me, it was the Babor Enzyme Cleanser with a gentle exfoliating effect, which peaked my interest. You might assume that because I love to buy skincare products I also naturally read the labels, not true. I have been applying every variety of skincare treatment under the sun without any thought to their active ingredients, which was probably contributing to the redness in my skin.

Salon Greco in Suwannee, Georgia sells the high-end, skincare line Babor.

Some things I learned about skin care during my facial at Salon Greco:

  • Exfoliate at least three times each week
  • Facials should be a regular part of your skincare routine
  • Read the labels and know the ingredients in the products you use and apply
  • When applying eye cream always use your ring finger
  • Give all skin care products at least 28 days to truly take effect

I was impressed by my entire experience at Salon Greco, and I am looking forward to returning to try the Hydra Facial. From now on, I will be making spa facial treatments a regular part of my skincare routine. The massage that followed the facial was the perfect culmination for a relaxing spa day. The gentle music and my massage therapist's skillful hands had me in a blissful utopia of relaxation and quiet.

 After my Facial at Salon Greco, my skin was glowing and felt instantly softer to the touch.
After my Facial at Salon Greco, my skin was glowing and felt instantly softer to the touch.

If you are in the Atlanta area make sure you book an appointment today to visit Salon Greco. Mention "Everyday Thoughts" and you get $20 off a service of your choice! They offer a complete list of spa and salon services for the ultimate in pampering, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I think you will agree that the staff is friendly, well mannered, and expertly trained in their respective crafts. The salon and spa are clean and efficient with high-quality products, a quiet and relaxing ambiance, and cutting-edge technology to ensure the best possible experience for all their guests.

Now that I'll be returning to Salon Greco regularly, I need some advice, what are some of your favorite spa treatments and how often do you get them done?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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April 6, 2017

An Unlikely Friendship

We walked into our local grocery store one evening, and my ultra-observant son noticed that there were not any grocery baskets available. My son is one of those kids that can not let things go, so while I pushed him and his brother up and down the aisles, scooping up cereal and bananas, he was busy counting the baskets in the produce section, the pharmacy, and the bakery. Soon the groceries were loaded into the cart, and we made our way to the checkout counter. While the friendly associates rang up our food, my son casually struck up a conversation with the gentleman who was in charge of neatly placing the bread above the eggs.

"There are no more baskets by the door," he said, "but there are lots back by the hotdogs." The older man looked up and kindly entertained my son, conversing with him like it is entirely reasonable to have a conversation with a three-year-old. "Oh really?" was his reply, "I've apparently been slipping up on my job, I need to get some more baskets." My son shrugged, "well there are some other baskets over there" he said pointing to those laying at the foot of the checkout counter. The gentleman smiled sweetly and thanked my son. My big boy beamed proudly and announced, loud enough for anyone within shouting distance to hear, "I'm a big helper mommy." I saw the gentleman smile to himself as we walked out the automatic doors.

Several days later we returned, and my son once again inspected the basket selection in each department. He approved of the baskets this time around and said so each time a green stack came into view. To his surprise and elation, the same man was working that day. My son, never short on compliments, walked right up to him, smiled, and said, "there are lots of baskets today. You are doing a great job." It was at that moment that something changed. The man just stopped what he was doing and assisted us to our car. He and my oldest son chatted the entire walk to the vehicle. My son asked the man for his name because he was still too young to read the name "Lawrence" displayed on the man's nameplate. After that encounter, the two quickly became friends. Each visit to the store would bring talk about baskets, and groceries, and little brothers. Given that the two have more than 60 between them in age, they seemed to connect on a level I never could have anticipated. Every time we went to the grocery store was like Christmas morning. My big boy would wiggle in his car seat and ask, "do you think Mr. Lawrence will be there? Do you think he will need a helper today?" The joyful anticipation he had to go to the grocery store was palpable.

Mr. Lawrence became a household name during playtime. When we set up our pretend grocery store, I noticed my son asked to be Mr. Lawrence. After arranging the Fisher Price cash register and his plastic vegetables, he would carefully place the basket in the front of his imaginary store and put on an apron to be just like his older friend. Even while he played, he was careful and deliberate when he bagged food, just like Mr. Lawrence showed him.

This playtime ritual began to happen quite often, so one day when we visited the store, I stood with Mr. Lawrence as he helped me load the groceries into my trunk. The kids were both strapped into their car seats, and I mentioned that he left such an impression on my son that he was now emulating him at home. I do not know if I saw a tear or not, it could have all been in my imagination, but I could tell that he was moved by my story. He smiled his kind smile and said that he loved my boys and that he was always so happy to see them when they came to the store. I knew he was not just saying that to provide excellent customer service because unbeknownst to Mr. Lawrence I had seen him at the store when I did not have my children. He did not notice me, but I could tell by his body language that he is tired. I imagine that he has lived a full life and has seen better days but when he sees my children his entire demeanor changes. His face is bright, his shoulders are high and stable, and his smile is contagious. He looks just as happy as my boy, and their conversation is never dull or without excitement.

My son and Mr. Lawrence have a special friendship that happens between the checkout counter and the putting the groceries into my trunk, but they love one another. I have the awesome benefit of watching their unique, friendship flourish. They do not seem to notice the generational age gap. I get to witness how much joy they bring to one another's life. Mr. Lawrence's kindness, gentleness, and attentiveness to my children are unwavering. He never fails to wave hello, share a smile, and allow my son to help him bag groceries and push carts. He is patient and friendly, and to us, so much more than just the man who works at Publix. Mr. Lawrence is a superhero at our house.

An Unlikely Friendship


Mr. Lawrence if you ever read this, thank you for being so kind to my family and my boys. Thank you for giving us such a good example of how we can all make room in our hearts to love others. Thank you for letting me stand back and observe the friendship you have developed with my son. It makes my heart so happy to see the richness you each bring to one another's life. You have helped to restore my faith in humanity, and I now hold onto the hope that there are beautiful people in this world. People, who love without exception and those who do not let age hinder a beautiful friendship. You see my son as he is; a strong, independent, self-assured youngster who has never met a stranger, and you let him into your heart. Thank you for keeping the baskets stacked up, our hearts full, and for never shying away from our shrieking excitement when we walk through the doors.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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March 23, 2017

Stuck Inside with Sick Kids

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post: Stuck Inside with Sick Kids, are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but this at no cost to you and all opinions are my own. 

It has been a long couple weeks. The boys and I were both hit pretty hard with the flu virus, and after more than ten days of pajamas, nonstop movie marathons, and grilled cheese sandwiches or wonton soup, we finally seem to be on the mend. I have the washing machine working overtime, sanitizing everything that was touched in the last month. The kids are begging to go outside and my husband, who has been incredibly supportive through this mutant virus, desperately deserves a home-cooked meal - but that might not happen until tomorrow.

A Guide for When You Are Stuck Inside with Sick Kids - Cuddles

We are starting to put the pieces of our normal life back together as we cough away the last bit of the flu and shed our PJs for what appear to be real clothes. While battling this bug I learned one thing - being sick as a kid is about as good as it gets. Minus the actual illness, the rest of it is magic: sleep all day, play Kindle, eat Vanilla wafers, and movie marathons galore. As a mom, it is anything but glamorous, but I did appreciate all the extra snuggles. Regardless, ten days of being cooped up inside can take a toll on anyone, but I've put together a little list of must-haves for when your little ones are sick that will help you and your them battle through it with as few hiccups as possible.

Amazon Fire Kids Edition
I know that doctors do not recommend screen time for little ones, but when sleep is not an option, the Amazon Fire Kids Edition is a lifesaver. It's also perfect for travel. It comes preloaded with kid-friendly and parent-approved content. The child-proof case is easy to clean and disinfect and nearly impossible for a child to break. Plus, at less than $100 a pop, they fit nicely in an Easter basket (wink wink).
Vanilla Wafers
My little guys had no appetite for days and only ate four crackers cumulatively throughout the day. That is until I handed them Vanilla wafers. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, and they finally ate something that put a smile on their little faces. The cookies are bland enough to settle their tiny tummies but sweet enough to keep them asking for more.

Chinese Delivery 
I feel sorry for the gentleman who delivered to us over the last couple weeks. I think he stopped by 3-4 times with bags of rice and wonton soup. I just hope he does not catch the bug, but man that soup was like super food for us. I'm so grateful we have the ability to make a call and have delicious Chinese food is delivered right to our door. If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably caught a peek at our Chinese delivery obsession.

A Guide for When You Are Stuck Inside with Sick Kids - Wonton Soup

Pedialyte
After several dry diapers, I knew that the boys needed to drink more to keep them hydrated. We stocked up on Pedialyte to help them add electrolytes to their system and give them something with a little flavor. I always forget that Pedialyte is only good for 24 hours once it is open, so I try to stock up on several when I'm at the store, that way I always have it in a pinch.

Cool Mist Humidifier
Stuffy noses, dry skin, and nasty coughs seem to be some of the side effects of this crazy flu virus. I've been a big believer in the Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier for years now, and I love that VapoPads leave the room with the comforting smell of Vaporub.

Audible
Mama needs a break too, and with the pounding headache I've been struggling with, I can hardly bring myself to read a book or computer screen. I accidently signed up for Audible a couple months ago and had a couple of credits stored up, so I decided to give it a try this week. I sat happily listening to Big Little Lies while my kids watch Thomas the Train and Trolls over and over again. I can get used to "reading" books this way. If you are interested in trying Audible now is the time because you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and get TWO free audio books.

A Guide for When You Are Stuck Inside with Sick Kids

I hope you all are staying healthy but if you find yourself trapped inside with little ones I'd love to know what you use to get you through the days trapped inside.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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March 9, 2017

Turkey Salad Recipe

Disclosure: Some of the links in this turkey salad recipe post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase. 

Turkey is a delicious, lean protein and it pairs wonderfully with many fruits and vegetables so you can transform it to please almost any palate. I enjoy eating turkey during the holidays but I don't think it gets enough love during the rest of the year, which is probably why I make it so often in the crockpot. My family gobbles up crockpot turkey every time I make it, but we still always have leftovers. Well, this turkey salad recipe solves that problem - plus, it's great for Thanksgiving leftovers as well. Did I mention that it's super simple?

Turkey Salad Recipe

Ingredients: 
12 oz turkey, cooked and cubed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup Miracle Whip
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preparation Instructions: 
Mix all Miracle Whip and mustard together, until well blended. Add all other ingredients to a bowl and stir. Then add the Miracle Whip and mustard mixture and stir everything until it is well incorporated and all ingredients are even distributed. That's it. Seriously.

The salad can be served in a lettuce wrap, on a sandwich, with crackers, in a tortilla or it can be eaten straight out of the bowl.

Turkey Salad Recipe - Served as a sandwich

If you're a meal planner this is a great way to transition from one meal to the next, without feeling like you're eating the same thing night after night. With very few ingredients you can elevate to leftovers to a whole new meal and not only is it great year round, it's also perfect for lunch or dinner.

Turkey Salad recipe made with leftover turkey - perfect for thanksgiving leftovers

What are your favorite second-day meals? Please let links in the comments below! If you're interested in trying some of my other great recipes you can check them out here.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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March 5, 2017

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home

Disclosure: The article, The Heart of the Home, is a sponsored post. 

Over the years there's been a shift in thinking when it comes to kitchens. Once, they served a mainly utilitarian purpose, and now they are the epicenter of life inside a home. Life is lived and nurtured in the kitchen, and it's so much more than just a place to serve three square meals a day. The hustle and bustle of the family are most evident here, in the proverbial heart of the home. And if the kitchen is considered the heart of the home, then the countertops are most certainly the home's vital arteries. Nothing can move in and out of a kitchen without first gracing their surface. Food, mail, and homework all find their place upon countertops, even if it's only for a short time. So it's important to use great love and attention when caring for a kitchen's surface area.


When a heart is in good working order, the entire body can function with ease and grace, and the same can be said for a kitchen. Each component plays a vital role in the operation of the whole; the stove, the refrigerator, the floors and pantry, the sink, the cabinets, and the piece which holds it all together - the countertops. Similar to a body, with a kitchen everything should be well cared for and made of high-quality materials. Natural stone countertops are the perfect addition to any kitchen, and they set an unmistakable standard of timelessness and beauty. When it comes to natural stone countertops, granite and marble are undoubtedly the most popular and well-known types, but soapstone and limestone are great alternatives.

Just like each person is an individual with unique fingerprints, unmatched DNA, and a heartbeat that adds both rhythm and flow to a body; no two slabs of granite or marble are the same. They each have unique grains, veins, colors, and patterns, making every single slab one of a kind. Made of naturally occurring and porous stones, granite and marble countertops are a truly beautiful, and individualized addition to a kitchen, bathroom, wet bar, mudroom, or office. Adding natural stone fabrication to a kitchen will bring back beauty and vitality to a home. It's also a worthwhile and desirable feature for homes soon to go on the market and they can add a considerable price increase to a listed home.
A healthy heart can add years to life, and likewise, a well-maintained kitchen adds value to real estate. Updating a kitchen is a great investment option, but a complete overhaul is not always necessary. To give a kitchen a facelift, simple tasks can be done like painting cabinets, upgrading fixtures, updating paint or wallpaper, backsplashes and of course, countertops. Just be sure to leave it to the experts to help you through the countertop process.


Premier Surfaces is the industry leader in granite and marble fabrication and installation in the Atlanta area. They have four locations in the Southeast; Atlanta, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. They work with both commercial and residential properties and specialize in the design, fabrication, and installation of luxury countertops. Premier Surfaces hand picks all of their natural stone based on the stone's quality, value, and beauty and they offer a 100% warranty on all their craftsmanship, ensuring homes with only the best. They provide the expertise, knowledge, and skill necessary to not only design and install luxury countertops, but also bring a kitchen back to life.

President and CEO of Premier Surfaces, Eric Tryon, was named the 2016 Stone World Fabricator of the Year by Stone World magazine for his exemplary use of technology within the stoneworkers industry. Prior to receiving the prestigious award, Eric and Premier Surfaces posted a proven track record of excellent work, garnering most of their new customer base from referrals - or word of mouth - the truest testament to customer satisfaction. Premier Surfaces is accredited by the Marble Institute of American (MIA), and they were recognized in Atlanta with the "Consumers Choice Award" from 2007 to 2015, proving time and again that they are the local, industry leader for natural stone countertops.

Eric built his business on relationships, and it's those relationships which have propelled Premier Surfaces to continued growth since its inception in 2002. Premier Surfaces sources its natural stone countertops directly, cutting out the middle man and cultivating relationships with vendors, which in turn allows them to offer limited lifetime warranties, surpassing industry standards. Surpassing standards, respecting and honoring customers, and embracing technology at every turn makes it an obvious choice for any natural stone countertop design, fabrication, and installation, especially in the Atlanta area.

Add value, beauty, and vitality to any home by upgrading to high-quality, natural granite or marble countertops. Eric and his team at Premier Surfaces are experts in luxury, and they are excited to help bring new life to the heart of any home.


Source: premiersurfaces.com
When was the last time you did something to improve the health and appearance of your kitchen?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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