2020! New decade, new year, new YOU! I’ve put together my top 5 supplements I love and swear by. Whole Foods Market is having their annual supplement sale January 3rd-5th, but if you can’t make it to the store, feel free to shop through my Amazon links! Reach out if you have any questions and here’s to feeling and looking your best in 2020!!
I should start off by saying my husband and I have managed to stay at almost every. single. resort on Walt Disney World property! You name it, we’ve experienced it. Budget friendly, mid range and even the best of the best. As a little girl, I remember my first trip to Walt Disney World. I was in the third grade…8 years old. It literally changed my life. I know that may sound a tad overdramatic, but listen here. I grew up in Brooklyn, we played hopscotch on the sidewalk, played on the stairs inside when it snowed and were lucky to hit up a carnival every now and again with the fam. My kids are straight up spoiled! When we lived in O-town for a brief stint, I remember my then 4-year-old boy saying we’re going to Disney AGAIN?! I about chewed his head off and proceeded to tell him about how some people were lucky to visit Disney ONCE in their lifetime! I haven’t heard a word from the kid since.
I can remember it like yesterday…taking the monorail and seeing the double doors open up to an untouchable world of wonder. The Contemporary Resort, The Grand Floridian (which we have stayed at too and I feel is a completely different post) and The Polynesian. That feeling of being so enamored with what’s in front of you, that it takes over your entire body. I remember saying to myself, “Oh, I’ll be back some day!” So, for my 35th birthday, my son’s 6th and our 8th wedding anniversary, we finally made it happen! We literally picked our son & daughter up from school and booked it to the Mouse’s House!
Upon arrival, you’re greeted by an incredible waterfall and the smell of pineapple and coconut is all consuming. The lobby literally transports you to the South Pacific (a place my friend, we will too someday visit), complete with lush landscape, smooth island sounds and a vibe unlike any other hotel on property. P.s. According to Disney.com, it’s been a fan fave since the 70’s! You are then greeted by staff with a lei (a symbol of affection and warm welcome).
While the hubby was checking us in, a woman was walking around in search of the honorary family to be a part of their fire ceremony, to which I immediately volunteered! Bless the hubby for going along with my antics. He took his newly upgraded lei and waited for his cue alongside us! A quick conch shell blow and the ceremony was off to a start! We stood at the front of the lobby and we’re announced in front of everyone “Aloha, please help me welcome The D’Andrea family!” We proceeded out to the lawn) which by the way overlooks the Magic Kingdom and Bay Lake) and took our front row seats for an incredible fire dance put on by one of the infamous dancers known for the “Spirit of Aloha” lively luau, (which we did by the way for my birthday the year prior! Most definitely on my recommended to-do list!) We then were asked to come to the front and say “Aloha!” and pose for pictures! What an incredible way to start off quite the fantastic trip!
The rooms are nice and super chill and the hotel itself is a place where for once, we weren’t trying to rush off to the parks! Whether you get the opportunity to lounge by the amazing pools with the Magic Kingdom as a backdrop or you walk the grounds with your toes in the sand alongside the new villas representative of life in Bali (another bucket list item), there’s no shortage of fun to be had at The Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. I would have to say one of the best parts, besides being so close to the parks via monorail is the fact that you can treat yourself to a Dole Whip any time of day! (My absolute favorite treat, which can usually only be found in the Magic Kingdom!)
One of the mornings we did decide to splurge on a character breakfast with Mickey, Pluto and Lilo & Stitch at “Ohana” (translates to family), which was all worth it for the mouthwatering sticky buns they provide before your meal even starts! (I’ll have to look up a recipe for that one! Ha!)
All in all, the trip was absolutely memorable and one for the books! One that in fact couldn’t be topped! So much so, that we opted to put our passes on hold and venture out to D.C. this summer for the 4th! Full report upon return. Don’t worry though, come fall and less sticky weather you can find the D’Andrea’s back in the Disney saddle with the launch of Star Wars! Make sure to follow me on Instagram @brianadandrea for an inside look at my crazy family, fun recipes and all things wellness! Until then…ALOHA!
Happy Earth Day friends! After more than 20 years of trial and error and tons of personal research…I’ve listed my Top 7 non-toxic cleaning products I swear by and I’m sure you will fall in love with them too! Have questions? Just ask! Simply use the links to shop now and celebrate Earth Day with me! xo -Briana D.
I was putting together my family’s holiday wish list and I thought I would share some gift guides this year!
Started with my own! From boots to accessories and clothes at all different price points! I hope this inspires you to start your own list! 🛍 You can shop the links below or head on over to liketoknow.it/brianadandrea! Make sure you’re following me in the app! Let me know what lists you want to see and stay tuned for more!
As I sit here and wait for the election results to come in and I’ve already bit a nail, removed the polish and ate some chips today, lol, I can’t help, but think of one thing. I’m fortunate to live in a nation where I have my freedom of speech and the ability to use my voice. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, since I could mutter my first words!
If you would have told me 10 years ago, that I would be working for myself, pushing cosmetic reform and leading a team of badass entrepreneurs, I would have laughed in your face! I always thought I would forever work long production hours, making not so great pay and finding someone to look after my children. I couldn’t be more proud of the company I work for, especially now. Beautycounter is affording men and women the opportunity to stay at home with their children during a worldwide pandemic, while fighting for #betterbeauty laws and making a significant income. It’s not lost on me that working in this sort of industry takes dedication, it takes grit and it takes so much confidence in yourself to continue to forge on. This year, Beautycounter’s CEO Gregg Renfrew was chosen to testify as an expert witness on Capitol Hill in a landmark cosmetic reform hearing. That is HUGE! So much so, because a federal law hasn’t been passed since 1938. Companies aren’t required to disclose the ingredients that make up a product and only 30 ingredients are banned from the list as it stands. Although The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee passed The Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act and California has passed The Safer Fragrance Bill and Toxic Free Cosmetic Act, we still have a ton of work to do! For now take a look at all of the accolades Beautycounter has managed to get under our wings. Enjoy this little video put together by the #bcdolls.
So there’s definitely conflicting arguments with regards to Red dye 40 and my motto has always been, “When in doubt, don’t!” We have enough to worry about with this worldwide pandemic going on, that I plan to skip the candy with the color additive literally used to make us humans associate the color with strawberries or watermelon.
Although red dye 40 is considered to be safe in small quantities according to the FDA, The Center for Science in The Public Interest says you’re better off choosing something else…why? Because studies have shown children who eat the dye in foods like cereal, candy and treats, especially those with ADHD are known to have allergy-like symptoms and behavioral issues as a result of eating them.
There are so many incredible other options my children actually prefer over the traditional candy they are given on Halloween! Companies like Yum Earth, 365, Annie’s and even little mini Smashmallows to name a few, make a healthier and actually better tasting variety of candy I think you’ll love! So tonight as you’re sorting through and wiping down all of the sugary finds, consider reading the label and choosing chocolate over artificial flavors that in no way contribute to you or your little one’s well-being. I hope that someday if enough of us make the switch, companies will eliminate red dye 40 altogether! #knowbetterdobetter
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Ok, it’s time for some real talk! Everyone could use some extra cash during the holiday season. Especially now! Thanks to COVID-19 unemployment is through the roof! A side hustle that brings in a few hundred could mean your child enjoys tennis lessons. If it brings in something more along the lines of a thousand or two, that could mean you’ve got your rent covered. Or maybe you end up raking in a few thousand and you can work your full-time gig only part-time or maybe not even at all.
It happens to you every year, you have your lists, you make them and then somehow you unexpectedly forget someone. Not because you meant to, but because you are human! You’ve maxed your budget, you literally feel awful and you don’t know what to do! Side gigs are more than just a little bit of extra cash during the holiday season (although that’s a major bonus). It’s knowing if things hit the fan, you have a parachute. It’s knowing that if you then also work for a product company you might have a thing or two to give to someone who unexpectedly shows up on your doorstep with some love come Hanukkah and Christmas time!
In a recent Forbes article many celebrities have turned to side gigs, like private wine labels and lifestyle beauty brands to make ends meet since Hollywood was shut down.
Here’s the thing, people are going to spend money. It’s just a matter of where they are going to spend it! I don’t know about you, but there’s something to be said about supporting a small business. A single mom who has to raise her kids solo, a person who has a disability and their only means of making it, is via technology or even the dad that has 5 mouths to feed and just wants to make a difference while providing for his family. No matter the why, I would much rather support someone attempting to make a name for themselves if given the choice.
If you’re saying to yourself well, my plate is full how on earth would I be able to have something on the side? I’m here to tell you my friend, you get choose what is priority. You get to decide what brings you joy? Is it baking? Maybe you decide to sell some of your famous holiday cookies for people in your neighborhood who just can’t bake! Perhaps you have a green thumb and enjoy floral arrangements? Sell them! I would love to know someone who could take that off my plate. Or maybe you want to work for a company that is directly shipping goods to someone else’s doorstep out of sheer convenience? My point is, do some research, find your niche and get in the trenches. I haven’t had a boss in well over 8 years and it’s great to decide what I get to do.
I would call your bluff to say that you’re simply just afraid to explore something new, that you’re a creature of habit used to the same monotony that pays the bills, but you have to ask yourself are you truly happy? Think about the people in your life…would you love to spend more time with them? Would you want to the time freedom to do more of the things you love? Do you have debts that need paying off? I would venture to say you and I have that in common! Take the plunge and dive right in, even if it is just on the side and trust me you’ll be glad you did!
Ok, I’ve gotta be honest. I’ve been a little quiet around here or at least it seems that way….Anyone else feel like they’re just going through the motions? Not sure if it’s because we have been in this COVID vortex for quite some time or maybe it’s, because I lost my best friend furry Sushi (our beloved pup of 17 years) and I can’t seem to quite bounce back from it just yet.
Sure, I have some good days and bad, but I’ve come to the realization that COVID is here to stay. So what does that mean? Also, why has it become SO politicized? I assume it’s because we’re in an election year.
Here’s the deal. We as parents thought we had it hard to begin with? Add a national pandemic to the mix and you’re in a for a real treat! It’s up to us to juggle all the things. I would be lying if I didn’t feel like I’ve lost myself some in the midst of all this. Whether you’re homeschooling and working full-time (there’s NO right or wrong answer), working from home or having to wear a mask and better yet work diligently to save lives all day…2020 is HARD. Now more than ever we HAVE got to set aside some time for what makes us, US. Ask yourself…is it reading a book? Watching some trash TV? Enjoying a quiet dinner after the kids are asleep? I’m telling you now that if don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. I’ve got to be honest, I’m pretty good about setting apart me time, but I would be lying to myself and all of you if I came off as someone who has it all together. I’m nearing my breaking point, pulling at straws to keep life as we know it normal. I’m also here to tell you that NOBODY is killing it! Everyone in their respective lanes is taking on this pandemic in different ways and suffering loss in more ways than one! Loss of a social life, loss of funds, loss of friends and even the loss of actual family members.
I think the first step is to realize that we are living in the new normal. That big parties and gatherings are a thing of the past. Although they might be in our future, it won’t be the same for awhile. Perhaps its ok to give someone a hug (masks on), but then keep your distance. Here’s the other thing, if the kids need to go to school for your own sanity, then send them! If you need to head to the gym to interact with others and work out…do it! The bottom line is mental health is just as important as physical. I’m learning this everyday. Give yourself permission to do what you feel is right and screw everyone else, because after all we only have one shot, one opportunity on this planet. Maybe instead of saying nobody is killing it, instead we should say you’re killing it! So in the words my old friend Teo, “Go Big or Go Home!”
Let me start off by saying this trip was NOT a vacation, it was an adventure. If I’m being completely honest, I was a tad apprehensive about taking a road trip on an RV, almost 12 hours and 800 miles away from home with our 4 and 7 year olds, especially during such a crazy time in our world right now. However, if there was ever a time to do it, that time is NOW! Thanks to this worldwide pandemic, resources are limited, numerous vacations cancelled and although the idea of stopping at a gas station to use the restrooms has always given me the heebie jeebies, this time it’s on a whole other level. Which is why the RV was the perfect vessel to get us from point A to point B on our summer road trip. We decided to embark on our maiden voyage to Gatlinberg, Tennessee, home of The Great Smoky Mountains.
My husband has told me a bunch of stories about when he was a child, how he and his family took a road trip of epic proportions there and how truly memorable it was. Years later, he wanted to relive those memories with his family and I thought why not?
So, after a little bit of coaxing and realizing that it was this sort of vacay for our annual Forth of July trip or bust for the summer of 2020, I obliged. This city girl took the entire week prior to pack up our entire house, cleared out the non-perishable shelve from the local Whole Foods and decided to dive in head first (pun intended…more on that later!) There are a ton of do’s and don’t’s, pros and cons if you will about the trip, but overall it was definitely a trip of a lifetime, worth remembering. So much so, because our children are really at an age, where they can participate, have fun and even remember bits and pieces for years to come!
So, let’s start with the pre-work. We rented an RV from Cruise America, I’m an intense research buff, but because we literally decided to take this trip in the spur of the moment (we were actually supposed to go on a cruise, which is a whole other topic of conversation) and because the entire world had the exact same idea as us, it seemed as though it was slim pickings, but ended up being perfect for the setting and campgrounds we were staying on.
We rented a 25 footer, no pullout and although not the most glamorous of its kind, that’s not what our trip was about. (If you’re looking to do a road trip where there aren’t any mountains, then a motorcoach is your best bet). Our RV had everything we needed for our so-called “glamping” experience and was a few steps up from traditional camping, if you will. It had a queen and full-size bed, bathroom, toilet, stove, fridge, microwave and all of the creature comforts you need, squeezed into a vehicle.
It took us up steep mountains and down long inclines, luckily without any crazy accidents and no one car sick. I didn’t drive it, but my husband said it handled like a champ and we both felt very safe in it. I prepared a few snacks ahead of time, because I knew stopping on the road to eat would just take more time, get expensive and because covid, plus that’s the whole fun of getting an RV, is to eat in it! I baked banana muffins, made a cabbage and bean salad and packed up some snacks for the kids: applesauces, crackers, chips, popcorn, cookies, fruit, nuts, jerky, waters (can never have enough!) You will literally need to pack up the entirety of your home to make sure you are comfortable. From pots and pans, to linens and towels and even a trash bin, you can view complete list here.
Our first stop was scheduled to be Hilton Head, South Carolina, we were supposed to arrive at 10 pm that night and little did we know the resort didnt allow check-ins past 5. Had we had to do it all over again, we would’ve rented the RV a day earlier to get everything packed in the way we wanted it, so that we could just wake up early the next day and head out on the road. Picking up the thing and then packing it up, much less unpacking it makes for an all day affair. So we pivoted and instead decided to do a stop in St. Augustine instead. We made the 4 hour trek, arrived at the time that we thought we were going to arrive in Hilton Head (ha!), because as a side note, you can just add 2 hours to time you think you will be anywhere in that behemoth of a truck! We got all settled in for the night. My hubby and I in the queen size bed and our littles in the full above the driving cabin (much to my dismay).
Fast-forward to 3am and we get woken up by a big thud and crying. Luckily little miss wasn’t hurt, I on the other hand suffered a few bruises and a head scrape/bump, darting forward to try and catch her midsleep. Note to self: don’t freak out and leap youself forward in an attempt to catch someone in the pitch black. I can laugh now, but we’re lucky no one was seriously injured! Our daughter slept with me for the rest of the trip and the hubby got demoted to the top bunk with my son! Lol
We got up the next morning and instead of getting on the road, we spent the morning cleaning up the cabin, because the toilet foot pedal got stuck! Another note to self…always check the foot pedal for water flow and make sure it is in the upright position to avoid flooding!! Once setttled and already having gone through half our towel stock, shoutout to the maintence guy at the KOA who had some apparatus that sucked up the water, we teetered on throwing in the towel, heading back home and chocking it up to we just weren’t the camping folk. However, D’Andreas DON’T QUIT! That’s sort of the motto in our home, so we put our big boy and big girl panties on and head out on the road towards our next stop Asheville, TN.
The cutest little quaint town, that we will absolutely have to come back and visit sometime! Filled with little restaurants and shops and let’s not forget about the Biltmore, we parked in the parking lot and had a picnic in our RV, before headed to our final stop in Gatlinburg, TN. One quick tip: whenever you gas up, that’s the best time for everyone to take a quick potty and snack break, so that you’re not making double stops.
As luck would have it there was an accident on the route we were supposed to take to Adventurebound Camground. So, we took the alternate route which I wish had a disclaimer stating *This route is not for the faint of heart. You will encounter steep hills, twists, turns and no street lights, so enter at your own risk! Luckily, the kids were fast asleep, because it was like riding an RV roller coaster in the pitch black! I was praying to all things holy and luckily we made it to our camground safe and sound! Now if you thought that was fun, here’s where things get even more tricky and as I write this, I can’t help but chuckle at the fact of what rookies we truly are. There’s all this jargon, pull through, full hookup, 50/30 watts, etc. if you’re a newbie, you have NO idea what any of this means. Michael and I were just happy to have gotten a spot, when there were only two left on the campus with a gold cart to boot! Lucky for us, our RV lot was on the corner with the best views and privacy the campground had to offer.
The downside? It wasn’t a full hookup! So what exactly does that mean? Well, water and showers are limited, as are trips to the bathroom (let’s not relive that nightmare shall we?). Therefore, every time we left the campground, we had to dump at the designated dump site. Now your RV does come equipped with a motherboard that is supposed to tell you when levels are getting full and as luck would have it ours was on the fritz. We made it through all the way to day 6, and that’s when our gray water (sink/shower) filled up and our neighborhood maintenance guy had to come through and clear out the pump and our golf cart decided to die on us to boot! I said adventure didn’t I?! Lol
I have to say that Michael was quite the trooper releasing the tanks, because I would’ve found the nearest cabin to stay in! Aside from that we had the most amazing time out on that creek. The kids loved searching for sticks and rocks, we saw a beaver and just sat there by the fire listening to music and sipping local beer. If you’re looking for a good time and you’re ok with letting go of some of the usual comforts you can really have yourself a wonderful time and make some incredible memories. We roasted hot dogs, had smores and just breathing in that fresh mountain air. Yes, that’s a thing!
There is no shortage of activities to partake in, in the Great Smokies and luckily covid managed to narrow the scope. We went tubing down The Little River with The Smoky Mountain River Rat, took a UTV ride up and down rugged terrain, to the highest mountain top to see a $500 million view, complete with a shot of moonshine and a fresh blackberry snack along the way. We treked an 85 foot waterfall at Laurel Falls, snacked on some seriously amazing smoked wings and tried the best doughnuts in town. Plus, the kids had a blast looking for “trolls” and their footprints the entire time! 😍
We saw some friends who made a stop along their summer road trip, thanks for the Adventurebound recommendation, Jen! We spent a lot of time riding around on our golf cart and taking in the camp on the fourth, relaxing and swimming in what seemed like our own private creek and made memories to last us a lifetime. The kids discovered the ice cream man and we discovered what it really felt like to disconnect, often times because there was no wi-fi!
We did get to stop and catch up with some friends in Hilton Head for night and although we didn’t beach it, because the weather wouldn’t allow it, we got to use our bikes we towed and we wanted to stop in St. Augustine before heading home, overall the the trip was amazing!
I highly recommend it, but you just have to be prepared for the unkown and perhaps some prepwork beforehand. Allow yourself some time after the fact to reccoop and get ready for more than a dozen loads of laundry and memories to last you a lifetime! Ride on!
So I wrote this article three months back for Aroundwellington.com, with every intention of posting it on my blog, but then of course “mom brain,” came in full force. What my old quarantine self didn’t know, is that if you doubled the amount of time we were “safe at home,” we would still be here. So much has changed since then. Our entire nation saw an immense tragedy of racial injustice and a social divide to boot, our family would embark on the road trip of a lifetime with stories to tell forever, Florida would open up just to close again, forcing us to going into fall learning digitally and I would lose my best friend of 17 years, my little pup sushi who first made me a momma. I’m not saying when I wrote this that I took anything for granted, but if I could go back and tell myself to hang on for the wild ride and that things were just getting started, it might have made things a little easier. The only thing that comes to mind is that the comeback is greater than the setback and here’s to our little silver linings.
There’s always a silver lining, you just have to look for it. We have been in quarantine for 72 days and counting. There have been some major wins and some major losses that’s for sure. Families torn apart, lives taken and lessons learned. We’ve stretched ourselves in ways we never thought possible. We took on roles we could never envision stepping in to. My heart truly goes out to all of the people greatly affected by Covid-19, but I’m here to share some of the positive perspectives, I for one have experienced, because if nothing else, it’s a therapeutic practice you should give a try.
The other day, I had a flashback about the time my son graduated from preschool and was off to grade school. I remember literally sitting in my bed crying and eating ice cream, thinking how fast time flew and that my first born baby was all grown up. How he won’t need his mama anymore. Of course looking back, it was probably a tad mellowdramatic and I did get past that phase. Fast-forward to present day, where I’ve had to put on a new hat of being his teacher among other things. The opportunity has given me a couple of moments I never thought I would be so fortunate to receive. When he has a math problem he comes to me, when he has a wifi problem…who does he go to? Me. When he simply wants to sneak in a hug? You betcha…me! While at times the idea of being all the things to my children has been nothing short of overwhelming, it also has been a time that I will forever cherish. The time I will look back on and say I got to sneak in those extra hours just us, when they could’ve been in school and I was out and about working and running errands.
I’ve learned who my true friends and people are in the midst of all this. Who is checking in on me and who is there for me no matter what. It almost helps to keep the good and weed out the bad in a more timely fashion, if you will. My marriage has stood the test of time, because god knows being stuck at home with anyone much less your significant other all day long, is a true test of your love. I’ve started a podcast called momgirlpod, dedicated to helping other moms become the best versions of themselves alongside my first passion project momgirlblog.com. I’ve binged watched shows (which I never used have the time to do), started a cookbook and have read and listened to countless books too. We’ve gone fishing, took beach had picnics, gone on bike rides, made tie dye t-shirts, baked, cooked, crafts, built forts, played video games and board games and drove countless hours exploring new areas we never knew about. My team has grown, my business has grown and my wallet has too (thanks to not eating out as much) and I’ve been able to take on more self-care than I really care to. Can anyone say at home mani/pedi?
Now don’t get me wrong, this time has been stressful, I’ve eaten more than I like to admit, but I’ve been working out way more than I had before. It does suck to not get dressed up and go out with friends, but we’ve been able to get creative with ways to stay in touch virtually. Date night could’ve been a thing of the past, but now my husband and I have a standing date every Tuesday night, which we never had! I’ve become a pro at charcuterie board making and have taken on a new hobby as bartender thanks to that! I’ve learned that going forward, I’m going to say no to more things and yes to only the things that really bring me pure joy! Plus, I’ve been able to watch my children learn right before my very eyes! I almost liken it to being there for their first word or their first step, much less their ability to read their first book! Motherhood is most definitely a blur of sorts, but if you step back and put on your glasses (lol), you most definitely will see that there is always a silver lining…what’s yours?
Father’s Day is next weekend and it’s time to show the men in our life some gratitude. I’ve put together my top 5 Dad’s Day gifts that are sure to please!
Stainless steel yeti
This mother’s day is most definitely unlike any other mother’s day anyone has ever experienced. When my husband asked me what I wanted this year my initial reaction was ALONE TIME! I know all of you #newhomeschoolmoms can feel me! Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be able to be safe at home with my family, but this mama won’t be getting her nails done, wont’t be going to the spa and won’t be on any kind of mall shopping spree. So this year, I put together my top 10 list of self-care things I’m loving from beauty to retail and even making your cooking a little more efficient! Enjoy and happy list making! Feel free to reach out with questions!
I’m so super stoked that Beautycounter brought back the Glow Getters Trio Set! It was a top seller over the holidays, with 3 gifts in one and the limited edition instant glow! Since we’re not doing much these days, this set is perfect for a treating your skin! The overnight resurfacing peel gives you an instant overnight facial, the instant glow is amazing for that natural glow we all crave and the illuminating cream highlighter in rose glow, gives you that natural color so you can feel somewhat like yourself!