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Posts in “Lifestyle”

Easy Brewing with Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker (+ Thanksgiving GIVEAWAY!)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

This post is sponsored by Hamilton Beach. All opinions are mine alone. easy brewing with Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker - giveaway 3

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Moving to a different city is never easy let alone a country. I couldn’t be more thankful for my friends in Houston. I came from the Philippines and hardly knew anybody. They were friendly and welcoming, which made the transition to a new home easier for me. I think having a good support system to share your feelings or discuss the challenges of motherhood is essential to a healthy and balanced life.

Since it’s Thanksgiving season, some of our friends came over to our house to spend some time together to give thanks and to celebrate the gift of our friendship. Our friends really love coffee that’s why we make sure we always have a fresh batch ready. Thankfully, Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker has options whether it’s quick single cup of coffee or a full pot brewed coffee for our visitors.

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Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker is flexible to customize how you want your coffee. There are two ways to brew your own coffee, option one is to brew a full pot with your preferred coffee grounds on the carafe side while option two allows you to make a cup for yourself using a Keurig* K-Cup pack or grounds. You can also use a mug or a tumbler since the lower part can be removed like this:

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You can choose from two brew strengths, bold or regular. I also like that I don’t have to guess which brewer does not have enough water. Each has its own reservoir and has a water window. Cleaning is easy as well. I don’t have to worry about clogging or breakage. If you’re always in a hurry, you can set your brew time 24 hours in advance – coffee ready when you wake up! – and it instantly shuts off with a 2-hour keep warm cycle. No unnecessary stress on whether or not you left the pot on.

While I don’t normally drink coffee, this certainly makes it easier for me at home whenever my husband wants a fresh cup of joe. No fuss and no mess. It’s almost Christmas and the Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker is a perfect gift idea to your families or friends who are addicted to coffee.

Do you want one? Join our giveaway to win a Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker! Head on over to my Instagram for mechanics.If you simply cannot wait to own one, Enter 10FLEXBREW for 10% off on Amazon.

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What’s your favorite cup of coffee and what do you usually make at home?

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Who Inspires You?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

This post is sponsored by adidas. All my opinions are my own.

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Adidas Harden Pants / Adidas Samba Classic Shoes

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We all have people or things that inspire us. They’re the people we look up to when we need a little boost, or the activities we do when we need to refresh. I don’t need to look far for someone inspires me. I see him every day, share a home with him and our boys, and build dreams together.

My husband is one of my greatest sources of inspiration and hope. My husband is a pediatric psychologist, a great father to our three boys, God-fearing, and the most hardworking person I know. He inspires me in so many ways, especially on how to be a good parent. He  encourages me to take care of myself emotionally (he gives great advice on how to handle stress!) and physically. He is self-disciplined in taking care of himself, eating healthy, and exercising, including running after work.

I thought it best to do a little interview with my husband. If there is anyone out there who influences and inspires me the most, it’s the person who I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with. Hopefully he inspires you as well!.

Q: As a pediatric psychologist, what’s the best part of your job?

Brent: I love getting to be a part of a child’s recovery from a serious injury. It amazing to see the strength and resiliency of children and their families.

Q: As a pediatric  psychologist, what’s the worst part of your job?

Brent: Sometimes it is difficult to see children dealing with serious injuries and severe pain. Thankfully, I get to see them progress and overcome many of their difficulties.

Q: How do you handle stress?

Brent: I find that managing stress is easier if I am proactive in being spiritually and emotionally healthy. That means reading my Bible, meditating, and praying daily. Playing with my kids and watching a lighthearted comedy like The Office with my wife after work helps a lot as well!

Q: How important is exercising in your daily routine?

Brent: Important! Physical health has a big impact on emotional health and stress levels. I find that doing a few sets of pushups and pullups a few nights a week, as well as a 3-4 mile run twice a week, makes me feel a lot better. It can be hard to find time to exercise as a parent, but I like to involve the kids whenever possible – it sets a great example for them.

Q: How do you manage to take care of yourself while being a dad to three kids?
Brent: Realize that this time in your life is not about you. It’s about your children. The way we think has a big impact on how we feel. If I come home and think negatively (e.g., “I just need time for myself”, “I’m so tired”, “Why are the kids so loud?!”) then I feel irritated and annoyed. If, instead, I think about how I can help them and help my wife out, I forget about myself and feel better. Of course, we all need time to recharge our batteries – that’s why it’s important for us to have the kids in bed by 8PM.

Q: Any advice how to handle stress, especially for parents with little kids?

Brent: Find a good support network, whether that is family, church, close friends, or a parent group. Make time – even a few moments – each day for spiritual activities, physical exercise, and relaxation. Remind yourself that your kids won’t be small forever, and treasure the time you have – these difficult moments will pass all too quickly, and you will miss this time in your life. Be okay with not being able to do all you want to do: you may not be able to get the house as clean as you want, or work as much as you’d like, etc. That’s okay :-)

Q: Who is your inspiration?

Brent: My wife inspires me with her work ethic. She works hard all day, and sometimes that helps me when I want to just crash when I get home from work. My grandmother was also an exceptionally hard worker, even when things were difficult, and she is another inspiration for me.

Q: What activities can you recommend to help others de-stress?

Brent: Diaphragmatic breathing is a deep breathing technique that you can do in a few minutes which can lower heart rate and blood pressure. This type of breathing works well with mindfulness practices, in which you engage in the present moment and simply notice and appreciate what is happening right now.

Q:  Are there any self-help books you can recommend?

Brent: Unfortunately not… I think everyone should learn a bit about cognitive behavioral therapy, as techniques to change your thinking and behavior to improve your mood can be utilized by almost anyone. There are many books on CBT out there, but I haven’t reviewed them personally so I don’t feel that I can ethically recommend any of them.

Q:  Any advice for building/starting a family?

Brent: One of the best things you can do before having kids is to finish your education, get a job, and get married. Staying married is also very important, as the research is clear that kids do best when they have the love and attention of their mother and father every day.

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Who inspires you?

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A Cup of Good Health

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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This post is sponsored by Total Tea. All my opinions are my own.

Drinking tea is one of my favorite ways to start the day. It gives the same energy as coffee but with less amount of caffeine. I’m so happy to come across Total Tea. I’m already a tea drinker and seeing their wide variety of flavors, I simply couldn’t wait to try. Total Tea is a family owned business based on Texas that believes a healthy life is a happy life! Their teas are organic, delicious, safe, and with no artificial flavors.

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As mother of three boys, I need all the energy boost I can get. Total Tea helps me especially when I don’t have enough sleep or when the boys wake up earlier than usual. I don’t really drink coffee but I drink tea. I prepare a cup for myself when the kids are napping, when I work on my blog, or even when Brent and I watch on Netflix. Some of my favorites are Pure Boost – it’s a natural energy aid with natural flavors; Organic Black Tea – I like to add milk, sugar/honey for a more mellow taste; Organic Chamomile Tea – which makes me feel calm & relaxed. Chamomile is also known to promote a good night’s sleep making this a favorite! There are many known benefits of drinking tea. It helps fight radicals, a natural booster, reduces risk of a heart attack, and is actually hydrating to the body even with its caffeine content.

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Total Tea promotes a healthy lifestyle with every bag of tea. They’re already in the business for a decade and their natural teas are sold over 1,100 doctors and chiropractic offices around the USA. Their best-selling Detox Tea is available and number one in Amazon. It reduces bloating, weight loss, and constipation. They also have other tea flavors from Peppermint, Organic White Tea, and Organic Green Tea to name a few.

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Drinking tea has many health benefits. No matter what the season, it’s a tasty beverage since it can be served either hot or iced. It’s delicious and safe to drink every day. Browse your favorite flavor and Total Tea’s line of all-natural energy teas here.

What’s your favorite cup of tea?

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Fun strolling with Diono Quantum Classic

Friday, July 13, 2018

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Even if my days are packed, I always find time to go for a walk or do some window-shopping every now and then. It’s a good way to unwind and at the same time, walking is also a good exercise. However, we mothers know how difficult it can be to go out with kids. There are so many things that needs to be prepped including extra clothes (just in case of spills!) and diaper bag. That’s why having a stroller is essential for me whenever we go out. The features I’m looking for a stroller is one that is easy to maneuver and gives comfort to my son. An extra space underneath the seat is also a bonus. All of these I found in Diono Quantum Stroller.

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Finding the right stroller that fits your lifestyle can be quite challenging. All factors must be considered from “Is it easy to carry?” to “Will this fit in our car?”. I’m so happy that Diono Quantum Stroller is very easy to use. One of my personal favorites is the adjustable hand bar, which can be changed up to six positions. This is such a blessing because Brent and I are both tall. It’s easier to maneuver when the hand bar is just the right height.  The stroller is light and smooth to push whether on cement, rough roads, or grass.

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Diono Quantum Stroller‘s design is unique, functional and clever. It looks classy and beautiful with a leather hand bar for parents and baby area. It’s quick and easy to assemble and the extra space is such a pleasant surprise. I place my kids’ sippy cups and extra bags here so I my hands are free to play with my kids. There’s a cover you can adjust too for a breathable air flow.

If your baby is ready for toddler seat, just secure the four clips underneath the seat and move the seat to the upright position. The seat is also adjustable to three reclined positions and helps a lot when my son likes to nap.  The seat can be positioned to parent-facing so I can see my son and also sometimes my son feels secure and less fidgety when he sees me. I can also switch it the other way so my son can see the view. Changing is simple and can be done by attaching the seat to the chassis.  It also has a zip up cover that is totally perfect for winter since it will cover your child’s legs and feet. A helpful feature for parents who live in places prone to cold weather.

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Finding the right stroller that works can be frustrating but once you’ve found the one that actually fits your lifestyle, it is so worth it. It makes going out with our kids in tow such a breeze and worry-free.

What are you favorite features of Diono Quantum Stroller?

Use ref9129712 for coupon code at Diono’s website.

* Thank you Diono for partnering with Hello Island Mama!

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Summer and new beginnings

Monday, June 25, 2018

 

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I feel like every year there’s a huge change in our family – from being pregnant to moving to a new home. But no, this time, we are not expecting another child. But also yes, because we’ve recently moved to a new home with our very own backyard! Since the birth of our eldest, we lived in an apartment with tenants down our floor. We always had to be careful and considerate with the noises coming from our home – and with kids, this is an extreme challenge. 4678608252085748593

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(Hammock from Eno)

Having a spacious backyard is the greatest thing because when you have active boys, it’s a good way for them to play and use their energy! My kids love playing with water especially when it’s raining. This reminds me of my childhood in The Philippines where we play in the rain and make paper boats that we would later use in small puddles of water.

Brent and I loved the idea of renting a house that we can relax in immediately after dinner. We sometimes walk or let the kids play with their scooters. Our hammock is the perfect place to relax and just be together with the shaded tree in our front yard. We decided to move to a new home since this is closer to our church and our kids’ other activities.

I can’t wait to make more memories here and the kids are also excited to make new friends including cats and squirrels! How about you?

What are you and your family are looking forward to this summer?

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Cultural Differences (When Filipina meets Kano)

Friday, February 2, 2018
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“Cupids”… I hired cupids to make sure this man will celebrate Valentine’s Day!

It’s February everyone! Girls, are you excited for Valentine’s Day and receiving flowers? Or perhaps, you don’t have a date? Well, that’s totally fine! Nobody even gave me flowers or Valentine’s cards until I met Brent after college. It’s so funny, yet amazing to look back at those times when Brent and I started to date. Our relationship was mostly long distance since he was in Thailand teaching kids, while I was in the Philippines working. That time in our relationship was difficult, but God used it to build trust between us and strengthen our relationship. Now, we are married!

I never really thought of dating a man who was from a different cultural background than mine, or even dreamt of living in America (which I talked about from this post about my American citizenship). Yet, here we are! We had so many adjustments to make learning about each other’s cultural beliefs and habits, personalities, and even our own families. What I love about Brent is that he is open-minded about diversity and is really friendly with Asian people. He had been traveling and working in China and Thailand for a few years, before he went to graduate school for Psychology here in America. We have both seen our cultural differences in everyday life, especially when we entered marriage. As we are bound to honor each other in marriage, we learned to compromise, even when it is difficult. I wanted to share a few Filipino cultural habits that Brent has seen and experienced, after marrying a Filipina like me. 😉

Balikbayan Box

Have you heard of this? Well, this is a large moving box that you put different items inside, to send to your family in the Philippines. Whether it is secondhand clothes, toys, canned goods, pretty much anything. My husband is always confused about why I’m sending dishwashing soap inside the box. Why not?? 😀

Normal voice

My family and I may sometimes talk loud as if we are in different rooms, even if we’re together in the same place. Sometimes, my husband wondered if my mom and I were fighting, but we were actually just using our normal voices.

We like to eat

I know all people love to eat, but Filipinos really love to eat all the time! If we have birthday parties, holiday parties, weddings, you name it, we love to make or buy different meals to share with everyone. We can’t do something like only celery and carrots for snacks… I mean those veggies are healthy, but really, we Filipinos love big meals!

Close family

Brent used to ask me, “How many aunties and uncles do you have?” In my culture, we like to call older women and men, Tita or Tito, as a sign of respect. Even if someone may be a more distant relative, we try to call them aunt and uncle. We also love to hangout with second cousins, third cousins, and so many other relatives!

Rice forever

Americans eat certain foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Filipinos on the other hand,we can eat our leftover dinner for breakfast, rice for breakfast, and rice for the next meal. We always eat rice! Ahh, I love rice, especially the fried rice that I make! But like I said, marriage is compromise, so I try to cook other meals that don’t need rice.

Mall Marathon

The first time I went with Brent and his family to the mall, they only stayed for 30 minutes or so. We Filipinos do differently. I’ll use my mom as an example. She can stay at the mall for more than 2 hours or until closing time. Who wants to hang out at the mall with my mom? Not me, I have kids!

Are you dating or married to someone from a different culture? What’s the biggest adjustment you and your man experienced?

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Seriously, this was our real conversation here…

Me: Can we have a photo together?

Brent: What for?

Me: For a Valentine’s Day post!

Brent: What do you want me to do?

Me: Just smile, or maybe try to hold my face like you are about to kiss me?

Brent: Nope. I definitely won’t do that!

Ahh I love my husband!

Have a Happy Heart’s Day month!

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Tips for blogging

Monday, November 20, 2017

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Today, I wanted to share some tips I’ve learned from blogging, that can help those interested in launching a new blog. My blog originally started as my makeup portfolio, before I was a stay-at-home with three kids. I find blogging to be one of my favorite hobbies. It helps me unwind and do something else while my kids are on their nap. Here are some of my favorite notes to share for those planning to blog, or who are new to it.

Know Your Topic

I started to blog about makeup and also photography because that is something I love to do. But as the years past and I became a mom, I also shared about motherhood, DIYs, etc. I think you will know what your favorite topic will be, based on what you love to do and what you are excited about sharing to your readers.

Know Your Readers Wants

It’s also good to know what your readers want to see on your blog. I tried surveys before, and even used Instagram stories to ask my friends and followers, what they wanted to see most on my blog. This is a good way to help you to determine what topic you should post about more often.

Use Side Bars

Aside from your profile photo and bio, try to use this area to promote your other posts, like your most popular ones. Be sure to put an email subscription form, so readers will be notified if you have new posts or giveaways. Adding a search engine helps too. It makes it easy for your reader to search for something on your blog, or to link your social media platforms like Instagram. All these tools help your readers connect with you.

Image Quality

Opt for quality vs quantity. I always like to take photos at home with natural light. I’m so in love with the lighting in our new place here in Galveston Island. It helps me take pictures easily and saves time, as I don’t have to sit down editing photos on my computer as much… If different lighting is something I need, I like to use my studio lights to help brighten the area where I’m shooting. For example, when I took pictures of our old guest bathroom, I needed more light, so I used studio lights. I also use editing software like Photoshop to edit my images as needed. Larger image sizes instead of thumbnail sizes are way better for viewing on blogs. I like to make my images around 600 pixels in width.

Naming Your Blog

It is always good to use a blog name that your readers will remember. If it’s too long and the hard to pronounce, chances are it will be forgotten…  I decided to use “Hello Island Mama” since I came from the islands of  the Philippines, and I’m a mother now. Try to connect your blog name to your personality or something from your life. Something catchy will be great!

Balance Your Posts

I like to balance my posts with images and words. I try not to show tons of images unless it supports the story, is a makeup tutorial, or has step-by-step info for DIYs. Arrangement of the images to flow with your post will look nice on the blog too. For example, you could do a portrait shot, then a whole body shot like I did for this post. I think it shows good movement or sequence when your viewers read your post.

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Lipstick from Beautycounter

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I hope these tips and advice help you if you’re starting a blog! Have fun and feel free to share your blog tips or new blog in the comments below! I love checking out new blogs!

Dress sponsored by Pink Blush. Floppy hat from Target.

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My Easy Fried Rice Recipe

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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Before I came to America, I had been eating rice every single day; for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, when Brent and I got married, I compromised with the food we eat for our meals. It’s not that he doesn’t like rice (he loves it together with other Asian foods!), but of course, I want to serve meals that he likes from his culture as well. When I do prepare rice, I sometimes want to make it more special, instead of just plain, white Jasmine rice. Today, I want to share how I make my own fried rice. You can find the ingredients easily in the grocery store, or you may already have them in your fridge. The good thing about this recipe is that you can add as much veggies as you like. We also like to eat this alone and sometimes add chicken to it. My toddlers love it!

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons​ of cooking oil

2 beaten eggs

3 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 medium sized onion (chopped)

½ cup of water

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon

¾ cup of carrots (chopped)

4-5 cups of cooked rice (2-3 days old is better than newly cooked. See instructions below)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of broccoli (optional; you can also use cauliflower)

¼ cup of chopped green onions (optional)

¼ cup of green peas

 

Other ingredient ideas that I like to use are:

Cooked chicken

Tofu

Mushroom

Corn

 

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Instructions:

  1. Using a wok (we got ours in an Asian market, similar to this one here), heat 2 tablespoons of oil in medium heat. Pour beaten eggs to cook. You can move the wok to move the eggs around and widen its size. When it’s starting to become solid, flip it over and cook the other side. Start to break the egg apart into medium sized pieces using a cooking turner (similar to this). Remove from heat and set aside.
  1. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into the wok and start to cook the minced garlic and chopped onions, until onions are translucent.
  1. Pour water and add chicken bouillon. Once it’s starting to boil, add chopped carrots for 2-3 minutes.
  1. Add cooked rice. I love to use leftover rice (2-3 days old that I refrigerate). It is perfect for asian fried rice like this, since new cooked rice tends to get soggy and mushy. It’s common that rice can stick onto the wok. Just make sure you mix the rice often while making this. After you fry the rice, you may add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add garlic powder if you’d like.  
  1. Start adding other veggies like broccoli, green peas, and green onions. Stir the veggies with rice. Let it cook for 5 minutes and stir occasionally underneath so the rice won’t stick to the wok.
  1. Next, add the beaten eggs back with the rice and stir with all the cooked ingredients. Serve it hot!

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Let me know in the comment box below if you try it! Enjoy!

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Hello Island Mama is a makeup, DIY, photography, motherhood and lifestyle blog by Em Smith. She is the mother of three boys and a wife, who loves to inspire and encourage others through her works and stories. Based in Houston, Texas. Originally from the Philippines.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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