Thursday, April 18, 2013


It's been a while. I enjoy writing so much, but my lifestyle just does not lend itself to allowing me to sit down and peel the layers and expose myself. I'm a writer. I'm just wired that way. Always have been.

Happiness. Lives can become so chaotic and cluttered with negativity. It's so easy to allow these things to tear us apart and wreak havoc on our mind & spirit. Once our minds start to drift down that path, it can take a miracle sometimes to re-route our thoughts.

My soul has grown a tremendous amount in the last year. Spiritual growth, but also just a deep down soul growth. I began practicing yoga this year (check out inner bliss studio and tell them I sent you). After my first time going, I made a pact with myself that I would go at least once a week. No matter what it took to get me family made it happen. It's me time. It's time to take a deep breath and reflect my thoughts inward after spending the day taking care of everyone else. It's time to cleanse away all the dark thoughts and clean out the hydrogen peroxide bubbling in a deep dirty wound. It's time to stretch and take care of my body. I have learned so much about myself through this practice and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

Taking care of others. I made a personal decision this year to start being more charitable. With my time, my money, my efforts & thoughts. The rewards have been bigger than I ever could have imagined. One of our pastors said he had an account that each month he would pick out a charity/person/organization to donate $100 to. He would sit down with his kids..and they would decide together where the money should go. I thought that was a fantastic idea to get your kids in the spirit of giving. My kids are a little too young to understand this right now, but I've made a conscious effort to do this myself. It is so uplifting to help someone else. In the lifts you up more than it lifts the receiver. I find that if we don't make a purposeful effort to set aside money for giving, it ends up being spent frivolously on things that don't matter.

I found a new charity that I plan to start volunteering my time with. It's something I am very passionate about, and I will go into more detail later. I know these experiences will change me...challenge me to grow...and broaden my horizons. I'm attending a workshop in a few weeks, and then I will have more details about the new opportunity.

Efforts & thoughts- I've taken more time to take care of those around me. To reach out and offer a hand, to pray for those who are struggling, and to offer words of encouragement. Again. This has touched me in so many ways. Another huge one...compliments! Everyone loves compliments, but how many times do you say in your head "cute purse", "wow she looks pretty", "he did a great job on that project". I feel we have gotten so closed off as a society that people find it akward to throw out a compliment to someone. In the last year or two...I've made a conscious effort to compliment people and you would not believe how it blows their mind. (guys...hint...girls love to be called skinny). You are carrying on with your gloomy day (if you live in Cleveland) tell someone you love their new their whole world light up! They will feel 50x better and you will feel 100x better. It doesn't cost anything.....and its even more rewarding when you do it to a total stranger. If you see a Mom hauling her kids around...trying to keep everyone in order, while simultaneously trying to run errands...tell her she's doing an awesome job. You will change her life without costing you a nickel.

Prayer. I've been praying a lot more. I decided it's time to stop relying on myself for everything and start trusting God a little more. I've been diving into my Bible to learn more and challenge myself. I've connected myself with a group of people at church...and we've formed a bond that can't really be described. It's been an amazing year spiritually.....and this is just the beginning.

Forgiving. This has been huge for me. I tend to be one of those people that carries around a lot of baggage in this department. If someone has wronged me, it tends to consume me in the darkest way. This year....I began forgiving......everyone. It has set me free. Do you have a grudge against someone? Is this negativity holding you back? I challenge you to be up front with that person and tell them you forgive them. Your world will change. The more we despise someone/something, we tend to treat them poorly. The worse we treat someone, internally we feel bad, and despise them even more. Its a vicious cycle.....and the answer is forgiveness. Openly forgive someone and it will set you free of this destructive path.

Find something that makes you happy. There's so much out there.....submerse yourself in it. Relax. Don't take yourself so seriously. Don't worry about what other people are up to....its just a waste of time. Push out the negativity.....cleanse yourself with deep breaths whenever you are being challenged. Find your own ways to lift your spirit........especially while lifting others.


(Womens Health Magazine)

Saturday, February 2, 2013


It's been a stressful week....any parent knows that having sick kids can be the biggest nightmare on the planet! About 2 weeks ago, Macie had the pukes....and we found ourselves shampooing her carpet at midnight. Nightmare! This week it was her buddy...Carson. Sunday night he sprung a fever of 104.7! And it's been going strong ever since. Scrambling to find people to watch him ( thanks mom!) and worrying about our disney cruise that leaves on Sunday. It was one of those weeks where you truly feel the impact of what being a "working parent" entails at it's worst. Multiple trips to the doctor, multiple trips to the donut store (that's all he would eat) and investing in a life supply of children's Motrin. Like I's been a little rough at the S'Moores.

Everything came to a head today when Carson dropped my ipad on the kitchen floor. I had spent all day downloading "mickey mouse clubhouse" episodes onto it to be prepared for flights and peaceful dinners on the cruise. When I heard it hit the floor I cringed...but knew that bad boy had been through much worse drops on much harder surfaces. But when Travis picked it up and said "uh oh" I knew it wasn't good. The volume buttons were dented there was no sound. He insisted that if I tried I fix it myself, I would mess up my newly manicured ( Shellac!) nails! As he sat there trying to fix the volume button ( and save my nails) he shattered the screen. That's all it took. I said a bunch of stuff I'm not proud of (that my 2 yr old later repeated) and kicked the trash can out of frustration. Now we have a broken ipad and a nice stainless trash can with a dent in it. But as I stood there staring at the shards of glass (and dent in the trash can)...everything became clear. These are just things. Things that can be replaced. Things that won't matter in 5 years. Things that won't make or break my bank account. Things that probably get in the way of quality time with my family.

Someone probably got a terminal diagnosis today...and here I am kicking a trash can over a replaceable object. Sometimes we do silly things due to stress and frustration, but we must lot lose sight of the big picture. Things are things.....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Beauty Bliss...whats your secret?

Recently my friend Marie did a blog post on her favorite beauty products. She's gorgeous...and pretty sure we would all love to get some of her beauty tips! It definitely sparked some great comments on facebook where people shared additional products they like. I always find myself feeling super lost and overwhelmed when I walk into a place like Sephora (then somehow I lose my senses as well and end up spending $100 everytime). Everything seems so expensive....and they ALL seem to posses super magic beauty powers. So how do you know which ones to try? Well...I will share with you a few of my favorites...and maybe you can share some as well?

 1) MAC Turquatic Perfume: I am super picky about perfume. I love something fresh, not too fruity, not floral, but different. I love hearing the comment "You always smell so good!" I got hooked on this perfume years ago when my friend Deana was wearing it. The nice's only $25! Definitely worth a try!

2) Urban Decay Naked Eye Palette & Primer: I love a good eye shadow and nothing does it for me like this palette. I love neutrals with lots of pigment. Sometimes I want shimmer, sometimes I want matte! This has it neutrals, warm neutrals, and it even comes with a sampler of the eye primer to get you addicted! The best thing about the eye primer is that it eliminates all the creases that your shadows leave after a few hours. I've also tried the next version "Naked 2" and I don't like the colors nearly as much. I would definitely say this is worth the $50!

3) Big Fatty mascara: I'm your typical blonde with short stubby eye lashes....This is one thing I cannot leave the house without wearing. Basically...without mascara I look like a cancer patient. Big Fatty lives up to its name...nice big fat lashes that scream drama!

4) Moroccan Oil: One time I got the brilliant idea of chopping all my hair off.

Ok....It looks alright. But really...I should never cut my hair ever! And if you ever hear me talking about it again...hit me over the head (Right Danielle?). But when I did cut it off...I was introduced to Moroccan Oil. You work a dab through your hair while it's still smells fabulous...and leaves you with an irresistible shine! Oh...and a little goes a long way! I bought this when I cut my hair off in 2009...and ughh..I still have half the yeah! Definitely worth the money

5)Versaspa tanning products: I gave up tanning after I got married because I didn't want to look like this.

ahhh scary!! So instead I use a variety of spray tans. I really like the Versaspa products (Tanning bronzer and firming tan extender). It doesn't have a yucky smell and gives you a fabulous glow. The tan extender has moisturizers and caffeine and other skin firming ingredients. I put some on every night before I go to bed......oh gosh...I never want to look like that lady up there! She is totally freaking me out!

6) Buxom Lip Gloss: Plumping...shiny...sparkly...not weird white film...what more can I say?

So definitely try one (or more) of these products! I love them!! What are your top 3 can't live without beauty products?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Good, Bad, & Ugly of 2012

It's always fun to look back and recap at the end of something old, and the beginning of something new. What better time to reminisce and look back at the end of a year (which seem to be stuck on "fast-forward" these days...they seem to fly by!) So here is the S'Moore version of the good, bad & ugly of 2012

The Good-
1) Our Family trip to Hilton Head in May. It's the first time we've ever road-tripped as a family of 4. Macie was only 4 months old, but we had a blast and really felt a sense of freedom for the first time since she was born.

2) Discovering Memphis Kiddie Park! I was so nervous that Carson would scream and hate it, but it was quite the opposite! The face says it all!

 3) Our Cabin trip- Brandon & Rachel getting engaged and Carson catching his first fish. Plus...who doesn't love s'moores?

4) Randomly purchasing a gi-normous generator (see more on that during the bad & ugly section)

5) Strengthening my relationship with God and continuing the work in progress to not use foul language

6) Getting the experience to spend quality time with my friend during her last few days on this Earth. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences in my life.

7) Everyone in the family getting passports- you are now free to move outside the country :) Yahooo!

 8) Learning to eat clean and losing the rest of the baby weight (plus some) and fitting back into my wedding dress :) 

The Bad

1) Getting pulled over in the first 3 hours of our 13 hour road trip to Hilton Head. Silly me had already thought of exactly what I was going to say if I got pulled over (premonition?) and it worked! I drove off with a warning. (p.s. I'm not sharing my secret of how I got off :)

2) The dishwasher fiasco........yikes

3) Hurricane Sandy/ Frankenstorm and losing power for 4 days. Not fun with 2 kids/babies. Mom was stuck in Thailand and her basement was filled with 6 inches of water. No fun at all!

4) Spending an entire day at Metro with a family member who was injured. I hate seeing anyone I care about sick/injured. It still makes my stomach hurt to think about it.....oh and Travis was 3.5 hours away (hunting) with no cell signal during the whole fiasco.

5) Getting a bunch of money stolen from us :(.... But I am all about forgiving

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

The Ugly
 1) Breaking into Drug Mart to get extension cords during Frankenstorm (power outtage) only to find out that the store was opening in 15 minutes....whoops

2) After a rough weekend, missing my work exit by 3 (THREE) exits and having to be late. Try explaining that one to the chief.....who doesn't notice after the first 2 exits went by? I was pretty much in downtown Cleveland trying to go to Berea! Clearly my mind was in other places.
3)  Brandon Weeden- what a let down!
4) Travis and I getting the stomach flu at the exact same time. I'm still cleaning puke off the walls....thankfully my Mom came to the rescue to help with the chitlens!

I think that pretty much sums up the good, bad, & ugly for 2012! Historically, I tend to have better odd years. I'm looking forward to a bright and shiny 2013 and all it has to offer. I'm blessed in so many ways...healthy children, happy marriage, awesome family, a loving church etc. etc. I'm looking forward to living 2013 a little more frugaly (is that a word? is now!) and being able to give a little more. There will be more on that coming up. I'm also hoping to get a little less connected and a little more dis-connected. Confused? Yeah so am I! I'm contemplating removing all my apps from my phone for the month of January in order to dis-connect from the electronic/social media world for a bit. I wanted to shut my phone off completely for January 2013, but I don't think its safe with no land line and having little ones at home. So for right now...I'm thinking of just getting rid of all apps for a month. You bet I'm like a crack addict in a dark alley trying to get all my apping (I think I just made up another word) in while I can. See? There needs to be an intervention. Merry Christmas ya'll and please share your good, bad and ugly of 2012!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Around the holidays, I think everyone has a tendency to sit back and think about what they value in life. Growing up, my parents worked very hard and lived a frugal life. They never had fancy cars, our house was a modest ranch, and I tease my Mom incessantly about the fact that if I ever wanted anything in ALWAYS had to be for a birthday gift or Christmas gift. The funny thing is, she just sent me this article titled "How to curb kids' impulse buying" and this was number 1 on the list. 

1.     Provide for needs, but not wants
According to Ron Lieber, the New York Times “Your Money” columnist who is currently working on a book titled “The Opposite of Spoiled,” one approach, starting around kindergarten, is to buy your kids presents only at holidays and birthdays, and have children pay for everything else.

Of course I laughed pretty she DID know what she was doing when raising me. I was never decked out with all new outfits for "back to school" shopping, and Christmas was usually one nice gift....and no stockings! Sounds evil right? (Mom..if you are reading know all of this is true). But one thing that my parents instilled in me, was to spend money on time, not things.
We might have scoured the clearance racks to get good deals, but we always went on nice vacations. As I got older....the trips only got better. If my Mom got a Christmas bonus, you bet we spent it on a nice trip to Mexico. She would always say "Just remember, Christmas will be small." Totally fine with me! One of my last memories with my Dad was an awesome trip to Cancun. These are memories that I will have forever, side splitting stories of my Dad eating corn kernels off the tablecloth after a few cocktails.

So this year, I had the complete disaster the awesome opportunity to get the kids passports and take them on a Disney cruise.

Plastic crap from China will only hold their attention for weeks to months. Memories and pictures of a fun family trip will last a lifetime. I feel like this passport is a ticket to future opportunities to show the kids the world. I couldn't be more excited to have an adult only dinner spend a week together having fun in the sun! I hope it's a blast!

The Christmas tree (that's half lit.....thanks pre-lit trees! what a rip!) will be a little bare this year. But come February....our hearts will be full! What values did your parents instill in you that are still important in your life?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tips for Thanksgiving

Ok so you have started eating clean and have noticed great improvements in your life! Your clothes feel looser, muscles are starting to appear that you haven't seen for years, and most of feel good! Everything is going along..right on track...yet you know what is looming ahead! Thanksgiving!!! You know...the time to give thanks and stuff our face with so much food we need elastic pants holiday?? Yep! That's the one! So how do we go about surviving this holiday without sabotaging all of the progress we've made? Here are some tips & tricks!

1) Minimize the damage. Make choices. Choose stuffing vs. a roll. Choose a glass of wine over a piece of pie. Just take all of the normal things you would eat on Thanksgiving...and start making choices between the not so clean ones. Essentially...if you do the math (engi-nerd over here) you have eliminated 50% of the bad stuff that normally contributes to needing the elastic pants.

2) Offer to bring a clean dish. If you can guarantee at least one dish is clean, and then you cut out 50% of the not-so-clean, you are way ahead of the game. I love the Clean Eating magazines (borrow some from the library) and pick out a new recipe to try. I saw a good one for green beans with water chestnuts and shallots. Yum!! Its a good opportunity to try out a new recipe and also share clean eating with family and friends. Offer to bring a crust-less pumpkin pie! Its delicious and much cleaner than regular.

3) Maximize the clean stuff. Roasted turkey? Absolutely clean!! Take an extra piece of roasted turkey over a heaping spoonful of buttery mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes? Clean! Just ask someone to leave a few aside before they add 6 lbs of butter and 6 cups of brown sugar and marshmallows!

4) H20! H20! Don't forget to keep drinking!! Lots O Water folks! Keeps you fuller...keeps flushing out the toxins

5)Workout earlier that day. Sign up for a turkey trot! (Even if you walk..or just run half of it) It's a good way to get you out of bed! Try a new Jillian Michaels DVD. Put the turkey in the oven and directly get your workout in. It will help even out some of the extra calories you take in later.

6) Don't forget to eat. Don't save yourself for the "big meal". Get a delicious protein filled breakfast like you normally do. Eat a mid-morning snack just like usual. Try to stay on track as much as possible so that when it's time to eat Thanksgiving Dinner, you don't over-eat the bad stuff.

7) Keep in mind...sugar is the enemy here. If you have to make choices....fat over sugar any day!

8) aren't going to get fat over one day. Wake up the next day and get back to the usual grind. Pack snacks to take with you for black friday shopping....don't let one day turn into a week of over-eating.

9) Because after know whats coming next right? Holiday parties!!! womp....womp...womp

Good luck friends! Ya'll rock my socks off! I can't believe how many people have adapted this way of life and are messaging me with all the lbs they are losing. Just keep swimming....just keep swimming. What are you thankful for??

Friday, November 9, 2012

Additional Tips & Tricks

I am completely humbled and excited that I've been able to inspire multiple people. That really was my goal....even if it meant exposing my post-partum gut on the worldwide web. I have gotten messages from people I haven't talked to since high school, people have added me to facebook because someone shared my blog with them. This is the EXACT medicine I needed to relieve my carpal tunnel symptoms from typing that all out. :)

Here are some more tips & tricks

1) Use myfitnesspal app! Or any other tracking app will do..I've just found myfitnesspal is very easy to use. In the beginning..when you are learning how to eat clean, you should really track everything you are eating for a few weeks for a few reasons. For one, you need to have an idea of how many calories you are taking in. For the average female..I would try to stay within 1200-1450 for weight loss. When eating 5-6 meals a day, it is easy to get carried away with how much you are eating. After a few weeks of tracking it, you really adapt a lifestyle and won't need to do this. Also it helps you stay accountable for WHAT you are eating. If you put it are less likely to be eating those extra Halloween candies laying around. And last, add me (username lilduff02) and you can check in and see what I'm eating to get ideas (and I can check in on see how you are doing). Make sure you go into the settings and set your diary to public if you want to use this function

2) Weigh yourself once a week . If you are actively trying to lose weight, you will make yourself bonkers trying to weigh yourself everyday. Your weight flucuates so much day to day based on a variety of factors (when did you poo last? how much did you drink before you went to bed? how many hours did you sleep? were you weighing yourself in a thong? or granny panties?) just a few examples :) Try to weigh yourself first thing in the morning (preferably nakkie) once a week.

3) Be patient. I know I know....I did this in 2.5 months. Everyone is different. We all have different starting points, metabolisms, shapes, etc. It takes time. There were weeks where I wouldn't lose any weight..or might even gain a pound. But then all of a sudden I would lose 2 lbs in one week. Also, if you are working out in addition to eating clean you are building lean muscle mass. We all know that muscle weighs more than fat. So there may be some weeks that even though you are losing fat, the additional muscle mass made you maintain your weight. But remember....muscle = free calorie burners!! So eventually...those new muscles will help you lose more weight. The closer you get to your goal, the slower it will go. I want to lose 3 more lbs and have been working on it for weeks. I know I'm building more muscle...because I can see all the definition and the unsightly cellulite is disappearing, but the scale hasn't budged. Don't give up...keep plugging away. So many people give up when they are centimeters away from succeeding.

4) The cleanse. I have had a lot of people inquire (and order) the Advocare cleanse I mentioned in my first post. This is a passive herbal cleanse (meaning no crazy trips to the bathroom or sharting your pants at work). Unlike many cleanses, you do not starve yourself with liquid diets or any of that nonsense. You eat during the whole cleanse, but just cut out certain foods (dairy, alcohol, sugar) etc. to cleanse your organs and reduce inflammation. It helps you detox off sugar etc. If you are interested in the 24 day challenge (10 day cleanse plus a 14 day MAX vitamin phase) that can also be ordered from this website. If you have any additional questions...don't hesitate to ask.

That is the website to order. For the cleanse, you will need "The Herbal Cleanse" and "Spark" (either the pouches $22 or the canister $51) and I highly recommend the "Omegaplex" supplement as well. If you don't want to use omegaplex, just buy some sort of omega supplement. I can vouge for Advocare's omega supplement because Dr. Oz tested a bunch of them, and Advocare's was one of the only ones that actually contained what it advertised. Since supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, many of them falsely advertise their contents.

5) Fast food . I had advised on what to order if you go out to eat, but I forgot to mention anything about fast food. Obviously we should avoid it at all costs, but sometimes this is not possible. You will laugh at what I'm about to recommend.......Chipotle! Chipotle actually tries their hardest to get the freshest ingredients and hormone/antibiotic free local meats. Order the lettuce bowl and add the BROWN rice, meat, black beans, salsa, guacamole even! Skip the wont need it. This is not something I would eat all the time...but when you are in a pinch, order and enjoy! If you can't do chipotle, read Tosca Reno's book and there is a section for "Eating on the GO". She gives lots of ideas for things to pack on the go, as well as recommendations for fast food restaurants.

6) Make some protein balls! If you have been reading my blog, you know that I perfected making protein balls. But honestly, they are a great snack to keep in the freezer for everytime you need a quick snack or something sweet. Its so much easier to turn down the kit kat in your kids Halloween bucket if you can grab a delicious treat to satisfy that craving. There are a billion recipes for these out there. If you don't have a food processor, you can try the blender or hand mixing. 

7) Have an open mind. Believe me...I used to be the pickiest eater on the planet. Ask my dear mother. As Ive grown older, I've opened my eyes to all of the delicious and nutritious foods this country has to offer. I never would have touched stuffed cabbage with a 10 foot pole 10 years ago. But when someone brought in their version of stuffed cabbage from the Ukraine, I was shocked at how delicious it was. (I'm still begging for the recipe). My husband always turned his nose to sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving...and just said "I don't like them". I forced him to try them one year...and now he begs for all the leftovers to come home with us. Sure there are still many vegetables I do not like. Sometimes I will just force myself to eat some, and other times I just stick to what I DO like. If you can find 10 small meals/snacks that are clean that you enjoy....stick with them and rotate them. They did a study and people that eat the same thing everyday tend to maintain a lower weight. I'm not saying eat the same thing everyday...but if there's something you love that works for you...don't be afraid to put it in your cooler everyday. If you absolutely HATE quinoa, stick to brown rice. But please.....until you try it...don't just say "I don't like that". My husband now responds with "I have never liked that, but I'm sure when you make it, I'll like it" because I've proved him wrong so many times. He loves the protein pancakes I make with ingredients being cottage cheese, eggs whites & oats.

That's it for now! I'm sure I will continue to think of things to share.