DSC03589-01As time marches on, I find myself investing more time and energy into my overall health. I’m all about anti-aging and aging gracefully. With this in mind, I exercise daily, cook more fresh foods, eat out less, practice a healthy hair regimen, and have added a night-time routine to my arsenal! It’s seems daunting, but I look and feel so much better when I invest in myself.

“20% of aging is genetic, the rest is in your control.”

My skin has different needs at different times of the year. After an extra hot summer, my face craves refreshment, coolness, and moisture. I’ve found all of these qualities with Volition Beauty Products.

Here are my 3 facial favorites:

DSC03610-01The Helix AM/PM Eye Gel is wonderfully light, clean in scent, while restoring moisture and firmness to the eye area. Best of all, it goes well under my makeup foundation. Before, I only could wear my eye gels at night. However, I didn’t experience any peeling or clumping with the Helix AM/PM Eye gel when used under my foundation, which makes it a great eye gel to add to your morning routine too!

DSC03612-01The Oceanene Youth-Boost Gel smells so good. It’s delightfully light-weight, fast absorbing, packed with Vitamin C, Hyaluronate (for moisture and plumping), and Brown Algae (to assist in smoothness.) It will take longer than a few weeks to tell if my fine lines are really improved, but right away I noticed a brighter smoother complexion. I’ll take it!

DSC03617-02-01The Tumeric Brightening Polish is a great facial scrub. This scrub is gentle enough for your face but can be effectively used all over. It brightens and smooths, tones and hydrates, and promotes overall skin radiance.  It’s dark color comes from the Tumeric, a spice commonly used in India. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant, without the overpowering spicy smell.

“Invest in your skin. It is going to represent you for a very long time.”

These Volition Beauty Products are now available online at Sephora.com! You’ll be able to find them in Sephora stores beginning September 2017. I hope you try them out! I’ve really enjoyed their cool refreshment after a long hot summer’s day and I think you will too. Stay cool! Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This is a sponsored post. I have received products from Volition Beauty but all opinions expressed are my own.

 

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iceland-filtered-112 (1)-01Has wanderlust bitten you again? Are you thinking of visiting the land of fire and ice, Iceland? We visited in June 2017 and lived every monent if it. Before traveling we researched must Iceland’s “must see” spots. Over and over again we heard The Blue Lagoon mentioned. We looked up a few photos and then decided, “yeah let’s do it.” We honestly went somewhat blind into the whole thing, and it added to the adventure of it all. However, there are a few things that everyone should know to get the most enjoyable experience from visiting the Blue Lagoon as a family.

First, what is the Blue Lagoon?

The Blue Lagoon is geothermal spa in southwestern Iceland. It’s roughly a 21-minute drive from the airport and a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík.

Do I need to know how to swim?

No. The Blue Lagoon is roughly 4 feet deep. Most individulas can walk and wade comfortably in shoulder deep warm water.

Is it clean?

Yes. We all felt safe and clean. Iceland has a strict code of hygiene and guests are required to shower before bathing in the communal showers, which are split up by gender. (Be prepared for a some nudity.)iceland-filtered-108-01

Can I take the kids?

Yes! We took our 6 year old daughter and she loved it. Best of all, her entance was FREE. (Oh yeah!) Children under the age of 9 years old are only allowed entry with the use of armbands, even if they know how to swim, provided free of charge. The lagoon is not suitable for children under the age of 2 years. Tip: We brought our own floaty so Jocelyn would feel more comfortable swimming. Having her familiar floaty (puddle jumper) made Jocelyn feel more comfortble. Keep in mind: Girls must dress/undress with mothers, and sons must dress/undress with fathers. They do not mix genders in the dressing rooms.iceland-filtered-102-01

What about disabled individuals?

The Blue Lagoon is accessible for wheelchair users with a ramp that extends into the water and a shower chair. There is also a private changing room available for those with special needs, complete with a roll-in shower.

How deep is it? Do I need to know how to swim? 

The Lagoon is roughly 4 feet deep in most areas. Most individuls can easily wade shoulder deep in the water. For this reason you do not need to know how to swim to enjoy your trip to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.

What about the weather?

Yeah, this one got me really thinking as we drove toward the Blue Lagoon on an overcast drizzly afternoon. It was chilly when changed into our swimsuit. I was cold after bathing in the dressing room showers. Then we were faced with the 10 second run from the building to the waters of Blue Lagoon in the 30 degree rain. For those 10 seconds I thought to myself, “Jennifer you’ve lost your mind!” Jocelyn and I were whimpering as we dashed forward. Then our feet touched the water and I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) at the wondrous warmth. For the next 3 hours we swam, laughed, played, and floated with drizzle falling on our faces feeling perfectly warm. So should you worry about the weather? Nah! Go for it!iceland-filtered-106 (1)-01

Are there thereputic benefits?

The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (99–102 °F). Just the sheer warmth of the water was soothing to me. I have a dislocated or slipped disc in my upper neck. I regularly visit my chiropactor fir adjustments. When swelling in my neck increases I must alternate heat and cold to the area so that I’m not in severe pain. Happily, three hours playing in the Blue Lagoon allowed all of my muscles to relax, decreased swelling, and the disc to slip naturally back into place without seeing my chiropractor. I was one deliriously happy woman!iceland-filtered-122-01

What should I definitely bring with me when visiting The Blue Lagoon?

  • An extra towel. You are given 1 towel, but it would have been nice to have a second to dry my hair.
  • Deep Hair Conditioner Packets. Hair Conditioner is available, but let me tell you…..The Blue Lagoon will do a serious number on your hair!  Everyone had dried out hair the next day. The mineral rich waters strip your hair of all moisture. My chemically relaxed hair felt like brittle dry straw!! I packed it with deep conditioner and had to wash it 3 times before it felt normal. So with this in mind, purchase a couple of sample sized deep conditioners. You will need it!
  • A waterproof camera/phone case for taking pictures in the water of course.
  • Wet Suit Bag, to keep your bathing suit in.

A swimsuit. No explanation needed.iceland-filtered-123-01

Is it expensive to visit the Blue Lagoon?

Yes. There are a number of price points, beginning at $75 per person. It only goes up from there. We choose admittance that also included 1 drink. It was awesome to swim up to the bar and pick what we wanted. It also included a 2nd facial mask. I really enjoyed how soft my skin felt afterwards. That being said, yes it was ecpensive, but it was worth it for such a unique experience. Save your money for the Blue Lagoon.

What about food and drinks?

You are not allowed to bring food and drinks into the Blue Lagoon. There is a swimup bar for drinks while in the lagoon.  There is a cafe and restaurant for afterwards. We enjoyed our drinks at the bar, Jocelyn had apple juice, but we skipped the restaurant. It was too expensive ($30 USD per person) for our family budget. Instead, we left and found delicious Icelandic Meat (Lamb) Soup back in Reykjavik for a much less expensive price. ($10 USD)iceland-filtered-111-01So there you have it, my family travel tips for visiting Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. This is one spot that must go on your bucketlist. It truly deserves being among the top 25 wonders of the world. I hope you find these travel tips helpful on your trip to the the “land of fire and ice,” Iceland.


 

 

 

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IMG_20170607_080734_174For as long as I can remember I’ve yearned to visit Europe. I dreamed of going as a college graduation trip.  It didn’t happen. I could barely afford to put gas in my car. I imagined a honeymoon in Paris when I was engaged to be married. It didn’t happen. We went to South Padre Island, Texas. Then we purchased a home, gave our savings to extended family who had fallen on hard times, and eventually had our daughter. I was beginning to think I’d never get to venture across the “big pond”.  However, I’m not dead yet, so I kept dreaming.  Then last year I was named the Fort Worth ISD Teaching Chair of Excellence in Elementary Science. It is one of the highest honors a teacher can earn. Along with this prestigious title came a cash reward. SCORE!  I was finally going to Europe, but not alone. I had the privilege of sharing this dream with my entire little family. Together we put together the “trip of a lifetime.” We visited Paris, Rome, The Amalfi Coast of Italy, and various spots in Iceland. I’m sharing tips for each location. 1st stop: Paris! What should you keep in mind when traveling to Paris with a child? Here are some tips.

Preparation:

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  1. Purchase your passports 6 months in advance, if you don’t have them.
  2. Make a copy of your passport. Leave your passport in a secure location when out of the country. You don’t want to risk losing it. Instead, carry the copy with you should you need it.
  3. Pack yours and your children’s medication. It’s difficult to determine what medicine to purchase and take when you’re in a foreign country.
  4. Purchase universal outlet adaptors! We loved the Loop blue cubes. They light up so you know that your device is getting power, can we used worldwide, and have 2 built in USB slots.
  5. Buy a durable lightweight stroller if you don’t have one!
  6. Pack outfits that are versatile and easy to wash.
  7. Go to your bank. Order $100-$200 in Euros to have on hand.
  8. Consult your mobile device contract to find out fees if any for roaming and phone calls made while traveling internationally.
  9. Download child’s favorite shows and games to a tablet. Don’t forget the wireless noise cancelling headphones for the flight.
  10. A portable charger is a essential for travel!  The Kmashi Portable Battery Pack was able to charge my Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Jocelyn’s tablet, and my tablet multiple times in one use.
  11. Take a few of your child’s toys to play with during your vacation.
  12. Request family boarding if by chance your airline doesn’t automatically provide this.  Family boarding allows you to enter right after first class/business class to give families a little more time to get small children situated.
  13. Pack a travel umbrella or raincoat for your kiddo.  Adults will endure being drenched, but children will make a fuss.
  14. Learn a few french greetings and teach them to your child.  The locals will discern that you are tourist. However, they will treat you so kindly if you make an effort to just try.  Also, teaching your child greetings will help them to remember the trip more vividly.

Choosing Flights:

  1. If you’re able, sign up for airline programs/credit cards that allow you to earn mileage thru purchases and/or flights. Pay your expenses with the card then PAY OFF THE BALANCE each month. If you’re diligent you can earn enough mileage to earn a round trip ticket.
  2. Consider leaving from another airport than your home airport. It may be cheaper. For example to fly out of Dallas/Fort Worth to Paris it cost $1,000 USD per person. However, by leaving from Boston to Paris it cost $444 USD.  We used our mileage vouchers to fly from Dallas/Fort Worth to Boston for FREE. Then we left from Boston to Paris. The result: the round trip flights for our family of three only cost $1,600 USD including the taxes and fees!
  3. Look for airline deals! Jason discovered Iceland Air’s “My Stop Over” Special. When you fly with Iceland Air, you can stop over in Iceland for FREE up to 7 days. We choose to Stop Over in Iceland on the way back from Europe. IMG_20170606_071108_525

Where to Stay:

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. Inexpensive large sized dwellings are hard to find. In addition to this, traveling with child/children can be more stressful due to more luggage and a child’s unique needs. Instead of a hotel, why not stay in a home?

We rented an apartment for our family. It’s more private. It often has more space than most hotel rooms. You can utilize the washer/dryer. Kids wake up hungry and have little patience. We bought groceries and had breakfast at home, in a full kitchen, thus cutting down on the cost of eating out for each meal. There are no maids coming in/out of our room for us to worry about. Most of all, we really got to immerse ourselves in Paris. We felt as if we really lived there.

We rented Tanio’s 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment in Paris. It was clean, safe, and centrally located! We will definitely stay here again. Please use our AirBnB code: Jason30 for a discount on your stay in Paris or any other location.

Getting Around:IMG_20170724_072554_014

  1. The Metro/Subway. The most economical way to get around Paris is by using the Metro. We recommend you purchase the 5 day or 7 day pass for $15 EUROS. This will give you unlimited usage, and will allow you to take the Metro outside the city to the Palace of Versallies at no extra cost. *Please print out a 1 inch by 1 inch photo to glue to your Metro Pass. Then sign your Metro Pass. Both steps are required, and most tourist are unaware of this. 
  2. Uber/Taxi. Currently Uber’s and Taxi are roughly the same price. We only took a taxi to and from the airport while in Paris, so we didn’t have to maneuver the subways with luggage. This made flights less stressful.
  3. Light-weight StrollersYou’re going to do a lot of walking in Paris….I mean a lot! Little ones tire so easily. Therefore a lightweight stroller is essential when traveling. We loved using the GB Pockit Stroller. The Pockit is the 2014 Guinness World Records™ most compact stroller. When folded, it is the smallest and most compact stroller currently available on the market, 11.8″ x 7″ x 13.8″ to be precise. It easily fits into my husband’s backpack, in the overhead bin on planes, and in the under restaurant tables. Both light weight and durable, it’s been perfect for getting around Paris (and later Rome) during afternoon naps.paris-330-01

Where to Eat:

Our favorite thing about Paris has been wandering the streets and trying all the little bistros and shops. Why go to Paris and eat American food?! We love the ambience and food of authentic Paris.

  1. Try the canard (duck) at Chez Papas, ask for it well done! 
  2. Fill your sweet tooth at La Duree. I couldn’t get enough of the Macaroons. I think I are a dozen of them all by myself!  And these cream topped ones shown below…just stop!  Soooo good!
  3. Get street potatos and rotisserie chicken in any small bistro in Montemartre.
  4. Get Angelina’s chocolate milk in the Palace of Versailles.IMG_20170611_005915_979

What to See:

Oh gosh! There is just too much, but here are our Paris some must see spots, and will also keep your little ones entertained:

  1. The Eiffel Tower. Exit Trocadero to get a full view of the tower. You’ll find lots of tourist here but a great view. For an even better view, go where the locals go: Champ de Mars. If you have time, take the elevator up the Eiffel Tower. Go at sunset for a romantic view.IMG_20170606_072532_480
  2. The Louvre Museum. This museum is absolutely huge! There is no way to see it all in one day. We choose a few things that we really wanted to see and found them. This made both us and our daughter happy. We saw what we really wanted to see in our 3 hours, and she took a nap. Bring your light weight a stroller as small children often don’t want to walk and get bored. *Use the underground Metro entrance to the Louvre to avoid standing in the hot sun or the cold rain. The line is generally shorter here than at the main entrance. Save time by purchasing your online ticket in advance. IMG_20170613_204013_354
  3. The Luxembourg Gardens. The beautiful gardens are open to the public and a great place to have a picnic lunch. This is also a spot place for children. Rent a small sailboat for 3 to 4 Euros and let them to play with as you take in the beautiful grounds.IMG_20170619_225043_339
  4. Notre Dame. The breath-taking church was built in 1111 A.D Stand in awe and just take it all in! Tour this majestic building but be prepared for long lines to enter. Get up early to lessen your wait time. Afterwards, stop at the nearby park to allow your child/children to play on the swings for a while.IMG_20170618_175915_977
  5. The Palace of Versailles. 40 minutes by train will, followed by 10 minutes of light walking, will take you to the Palace of Versailles. Go early or at after 3pm to avoid waiting in long lines. Be sure to have chocolate at Angelina’s and prance like Charlize Theron down the Hall of Mirrors. Most importantly, try to eat well before you arrive. The restaurant and cafe inside of the Palace of Versailles are very expensive.IMG_20170617_023116_895
  6. Montmartre. Make your way over to where few tourist go by visiting the highest part of Paris, Montmartre. It was the last town to join the city of Paris. Wander it’s narrow streets to discover old world charm, Emilie’s Restaurant, The Wall of Love, and Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart).IMG_1497072864784
  7. Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments, and a sight to see. I was happy to discover that you can also climb to the top for another great view of Paris. Don’t try crossing the busy traffic circle to get there.  Use the underground Metro entrance. Paris (35)-01
  8. Avenue des ChampsÉlysées is great for high end shopping! I was so excited to venture into the original Louis Vuitton store, just to look around. I was bubbling with excitement when we stepped into the Long Champ store. I snagged The Neo Long Champ bag in navy (shown below) and the large Le Pilage bag in wheat as my souvenirs. Both of them were excellent choices for hopping on and off the metro, sloshing around in the rain, and still looking chic! Yup, I’m one happy girl. *Don’t forget to ask the sales associate to complete your VAT Tax Refund Form. At the hotel, before leaving Europe show the item that your purchased and the completed VAT Tax Refund Form to receive a 10 to 14% refund on your purchase.IMG_20170618_022551_982
  9. Sunset Dinner Cruise on the Seine River. “Unless you plan on spending $150 USD per person on a dinner cruise, do not expect anything extravagant.” This was the advice given to us by our friend Angie who lives in Paris. We gave this a lot of thought. It wasn’t the dinner we really wanted. It was the experience. So we purchased a buy one, get one dinner cruise from Groupon. You can even take your little ones on the dinner cruise. They will love seeing the city lights. We were very happy with our Groupon choice and our meal. Best if all, we got to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night and more of Paris. *Check the sunset time before booking your cruise! Some sail before dark and you won’t get to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle if you go too early.IMG_20170622_173243_712

So there you have it- our Paris (with children) Travel Guide. There was so much we didn’t get to do, but also so much that we did get to experience- all with a 6 year old child. So take your time, be practical, and have fun as a family. Mainly, as you can see, we planned stops at parks and places to play each day for our little girl. We made it easy for her bringing a stroller and renting a “home” so that everyone was comfortable. Most of all, we just enjoyed being together! I hope you find these family travel tips helpful for your next vacation! Thanks for stopping by. Paris (43)-01

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DSC08801Summer brings vacations, travel, and a slew of celebrations such as: graduations, baby showers, weddings, outdoor festivals and anniversary parties. My husband Jason, the owner of J and J Studio, is often on the road to video and photograph such events. When Jocelyn and I are not stuck at school we like to join him. (Not having to work during the summer months is the greatest teacher perk!)

This week we found ourselves in sunny San Antonio, Texas where we were able to enjoy the afternoon strolling the River Walk. After snapping a few photos in my lace Demerara dress, Jason smiled boyishly and said, “you’re glowing.”DSC08791He was right!  I was literally glowing. For the past week, I’d been trying out the Illuminating Body Milk by Volition Beauty.  It contains light-reflecting particles 40 times smaller and more refined than any other lotion. The luxurious, melting body milk is a sensorial experience at first touch. It leaves skin moisturized and illuminated with a soft, pearlized glow. I’ve really enjoyed the look, lightweight feel, and pleasant frangrance of the Body Milk. And if it helps to make my husband of 12 years blush like a teenager, I’ll take it!!20170721_165354-02Special Note: I’ve tanned considerably over the the summer, much more than I normally do, because of daily swim classes with Jocelyn.  I’ve noticed that the darker I become the more red my skin looks if I over apply the Illuminating Body Milk to the parts of my skin that have sunburn. It is not a problem, but just something I’d like to mention.  When Autumn arrives, and my tan fades, the red hue will no longer appear.

Would you like a summer glow?  Use my code: TEACH20 for a discount at the Volition Beauty website. New products will be available online at Sephora.com on August 8, 2017!  Even better, Volition Beauty Products can be found in Sephora stores starting September 2017.  I cannot wait to try out their stretch mark cream! (I’ll keep you posted on that one!)  In the meantime, stay chic my friends and thanks for stopping by!

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DSC09796-01It’s summer time- that time in Texas when I find myself wondering, “why do I live here?” Couple 45% humidity with 95+ degree heat and the whole Dallas/Fort Worth area feels like a hot sauna. I cannot explain how annoying it is to get ready for the day, step out your door, only to begin melting before you reach the car.  It’s maddening how hot and sticky every part of your body becomes in a matter of minutes.

Now that we’re back in the United States after our tour of Europe we had many errands to run, in all of this glorious heat.  We planned to make a day of it. Later that evening we arranged for the minifashionista to spend time with her grandparents while we caught a movie for date night. (Have you seen Wonder Woman with Gal Gadot or the new Spiderman Movie? What about Planet of the Apes? Which movie did you like better. Leave me a comment below.) With everything in mid, what would keep me cool in the heat, but still be date night ready in conditioned movie theater?

Enter LilySilk! Made from the finest mulbery silk LilySilk’s motto is: “Better silk, better life!” And they are right!DSC09845-01By pairing the v-neck silk camisole with black skinny jeans, my outfit was effortlessly chic. I really love the matte gold hue of this camisole. It can be worn any time of the year, on many occasions, and looks marvelous against tan to dark skin. I kept the gold theme going from top to bottom with my jewelry and sandals. Finally, my snakeskin handbag added interest and pulled the entire look together.DSC09813-01The best part of this outfit is that it’s not only looks chic, but the silk top is very comfortable. The v neck is modest, not showing any cleavage. It feels lightweight and cool in our Texas heat. The milberry silk fabric breathes and glides easily over my skin, not sticking to my body. No sweat stains for me!DSC09791-01Would you like to have this silk top?  I’ve partnered with LilySilk for a giveaway!  Here are the simple rules. 1) Like Lilysilk Women’s Clothing Facebook page. 2) Share the link for the camisole to your personal Facebook page. Lilysilk will the select one winner to receive a V-neck Camisole. If waiting isn’t your thing, you can simply purchase the v-neck silk camisole . Would you like a long sleeve version? It’s now available! Click this like to see the long sleeve silk shirt. I recommend purchasing it on August 8, 2017.  It will be $69.99, instead of $159. For size reference, I’m 5’7″ tall, 130 pounds, wearing size small. I hope you’re all keeping cool and having a great summer. Thanks for much for stopping by. Now we’re off to see the movie! DSC09825-01*This post is Sponsored by Lily Silk. All opinions expressed are my own.

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