DIY, Food, Health & Wellness, Reviews, Sustainability

Wellness Wednesdays: Let’s Chat About Gardening!

Ark Garden Seeds

Hello & Happy Wednesday, Everyone!  If you’re new here, welcome!  Allow me to introduce you to my Wellness Wednesday series.  Each week, I spend a few minutes chatting about something I’m doing to improve my overall health and wellness.  So far this summer I’ve covered a variety of topics from skincare to nutrition supplements.  One thing I haven’t touched on yet is the importance of eating whole, natural, real foods.

Garden

A couple of years ago, after the birth of my daughter, I started to research what was in the foods that we were eating.  As she transitioned from a newborn to an older infant (especially when she transitioned from breast milk to solids), I knew I wanted to provide her with the best, most nutrient rich foods that I could.  My goal was (and is) to start her on a healthy diet so she doesn’t have to learn how to eat better as an adult (it’s hard, trust me!).

Garden

Part of my goal to provide healthy, natural foods for my family included the desire to start my own garden with fresh vegetables and herbs but, until this year, I’ve never really gotten my feet wet with that particular part of living a more organic lifestyle. My love for sustainability, my desire to raise my daughter with an appreciation for home grown foods, and a yearning to try something new led me to plant my own garden in 2014 instead of waiting until I was “more ready” to dive in.

Garden

I started out small, growing several of my plants in pots on my deck (I’m absolutely terrified of even the remote possibility of snakes in the yard) and I’m really happy with how well they’ve done so far this year.

Garden

I started several of my plants from seeds (lettuce, summer squash, spinach, catnip, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, and a couple of other plants) and purchased a few starter plants (green peppers, jalapenos, and a supplemental tomato plant). Much to my surprise, most of my plants have done really well with the exception of a few that stopped producing once the Summer heat settled in.

Garden

Even though my little garden hasn’t produced enough home grown goodness to supply my family of three with all of our produce for the season, I’m really happy with how much I’ve accomplished.  As a novice gardener, I wasn’t expecting my plants to do as well as they did on my first attempt. Needless to say, gardening exceeded my expectations and I discovered that I actually (really, really) enjoy spending time tending to my plants.  If I can grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers in pots on my back deck, so can you.  I truly believe that anyone with a little outdoor space can grow their own food.  Gardening is such an incredible experience.  It provides me with an appreciation for this planet and the amazing power of nature.  There’s something truly magical about creating your own food and I can’t wait to grow my garden again next year.

Garden

I am excited to have a starter kit for my 2015 garden provided by my friends over at Ark. They provide 100% USA, heirloom vegetable garden seeds in 30 varieties with over 7500 high quality seeds. Their seeds are non-hybrid, non GMO, organic and come with a lifetime guarantee.  Ark is a company that I personally use and am happy to provide them with my heartfelt endorsement for anyone looking to grow their own food.  You can find more information about Ark and their products by visiting their Amazon listing.

Current Events, Health & Wellness, Kansas City, Reviews

Join Me For Rugged Maniac 2014 (Discount & Giveaway Inside!)

For over a year now, it’s been a goal of mine to complete a 5k obstacle course (mud run) so for my birthday last year, I asked for an entry into this year’s Rugged Maniac in Kansas City. I was elated to discover a note from my husband in my birthday card telling me that I would be participating in the event in 2014. Fast forward several months and we’re rapidly approaching go time! Even though I’m no where near “ready” (athletically speaking) for the race, I’m still going to get out there and enjoy the afternoon. With great friends (and amazing readers) to complete it with, I’m sure it’ll be a blast.

Rugged Maniac

I’m so excited to participate that I wanted to invite ALL of YOU to join me in the fun and my friends over at Rugged Maniac want to offer It’s An Ordinary Blog readers a generous 25% discount when you sign up this week! In addition, they’ve provided me with two FREE Rugged Maniac race entries to giveaway to a couple of very lucky readers so you can join me in the fun!

Rugged ManiacYour 2014 Rugged Maniac race entry includes:

  • The opportunity to hang out with me for a couple of hours, let’s get dirty together!
  • 25 FUN obstacles including a massive 50′ slide, underground tunnels, and fire.
  • An Awesome Rugged Maniac Shirt
  • Professional Race Photos
  • A Beer (Ages 21+)
  • The opportunity to have a near death experience (just kidding!).

Rugged Maniac

Online registration for this event closes one week from today and the race is scheduled for Saturday August 9th, 2014 at the Snow Creek Ski Area in Weston, MO. In order to take advantage of the 25% discount offered exclusively to It’s An Ordinary Blog readers, simply enter the code: OrdinaryBlog14 at checkout.

Rugged Maniac

TWO lucky readers will be joining me for FREE! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling me what obstacle you’re most excited about. You can earn an additional entry by heading over to the It’s An Ordinary Blog Facebook page and commenting on my Rugged Maniac post! I will randomly draw two winners on Thursday morning at 10:00am CST. As always, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Rugged Maniac

Rugged Maniac Kansas City

Saturday August 9th, 2014

Sign Up Today By Visiting The Rugged Maniac Website

 

Reviews, Travel

I Speak Italian (Sort Of) & So Can You!

Hello, friends! Take a look at that stunning image from a lake town in Italy.  I imagine the people who inhabit that beautiful place are friendly.  I imagine that the cobblestone streets are lined with small shops and that people sit outside of cafes, chatting about life while enjoying the company of their loved ones.  I imagine all of these things because I have never  actually been to Italy (at least not from what I remember).  In the late 1980’s, my family was stationed in Germany for a few years and we had the opportunity to travel throughout several countries in Europe but, since I was still a toddler, I don’t have many memories of our time living overseas.  The travel bug has bitten me and the only cure for it is more cowbell to either hop on a plane and go somewhere new or take some time learning about a culture from afar (with the hope of one day visiting).  For now, my only option is the latter.  From the rich history to the vibrant culture, I love all things Italy.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to learn something new. I was given the gift of learning the Italian language.  I will be the first to tell you that I was both excited and nervous about the prospect of learning Italian.  Having studied other languages in the past (Spanish, French, and Arabic), I am no stranger to the amount of difficulty associated with learning and the commitment it takes to become fluent in a language that’s different from your own.  While some may think I have an affinity for learning languages (trust me, I don’t), I wasn’t as confident in my own abilities.  Then I popped in my first Pimsleur Approach Italian I CD and I really felt confident that I could do it.  “Dear Universe,” I said, “challenge ACCEPTED!”

Pimsleur Approach Italian 1

Learning with the Pimsleur Approach has been an absolute breeze. The CDs, which total over 16 hours of learning, guide you through conversational Italian.  When you begin each section, you’ll spend a minute listening to a conversation (the dialogue increases in difficulty the deeper you are into the lessons).  Afterwards, the conversation is broken down for you part by part in a listen and repeat style manner which is easy to understand and allows just about anyone to quickly pick up the language (my three year old daughter repeats some of the words and it’s adorable).

I’m only about three weeks into my lessons but I already feel confident enough to at least introduce myself to an Italian speaker as an English speaker and to let them know that I don’t speak Italian very well.  My plan is to share my progress with all of you as I continue on through this first set of CDs so feel free to follow along with me (and keep me accountable for learning).  If you’d like to join in (it’s not too late!) and learn Italian with me, you can find more information about the Pimsleur Approach on Amazon.  I would like (and plan) to continue on through their more advanced language learning CDs and, hopefully, reward myself with a trip to Italy someday where I’ll feel confident having a conversation with a native Italian all thanks to the Pimsleur Approach.

Disclosure: I was given a generous discount on my Italian language CDs in exchange for using the Pimsleur Approach and discussing my experience on It’s An Ordinary Blog. All expressed opinions are uniquely my own and I wholeheartedly endorse their approach for my readers who are looking to learn Italian. Please feel free to connect with me any time if you have questions about this review.

Reviews, Uncategorized

“Lucy” In Review

Release Date: July 25th, 2014

Runtime: 90 minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality

Cast: Scarlet Johansson, Morgan Freeman

Lucy (2014) Poster

Coming off the weird but intriguing “Her”, and the brilliant “Under the Skin”, Scarlet Johansson is on a roll. In “Lucy”, Director and writer Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) capitalizes on this momentum and uses Johansson’s considerable charisma and talent to carry the audience through a series of logic gaps where one’s ability to suspend disbelief is thoroughly tested.

“Lucy” follows the story of a woman who is accidentally caught up in a deal, and ends up being exposed to a drug which unlocks 100% of the brain’s capacity.  This gives her all sorts of abilities which I will not reveal, but suffice it to say that it gets a little silly.  Time is stopped, gravity is ignored, etc, etc.

The premise, that humans only use 10 percent of their brains and could unlock other planes of existence by tapping into the other 90%, is a myth.  People use pretty much 100% of their brains, just not at the same time.  You don’t use all your body’s muscles simultaneously either (unless you’re using this), but that doesn’t mean those muscles don’t get used. There is no reason to use the entire brain concurrently because you don’t need all the brain’s functions at once.

With that said, the idea that a drug could let someone tap in to the brain’s full potential is intriguing.  A similar concept was executed well in the 2011 film “Limitless”, and it makes for a fun story here.  While the action is obviously unbelievable and over-the-top, it is entertaining and Johansson’s performance makes it work.

It is a little ironic that it is necessary to turn your brain off to enjoy a movie about using your entire brain, but sometimes that is okay for a summer movie.  “Lucy” doesn’t necessarily bring the ongoing Johanaissance to a new level, but it doesn’t derail it either.

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Lucy” a 7.829735623 with an emoticon based ranking of:  “YAY! Physics-free fighting!”

Reviews

Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue” In Review

DisneyToon Studios, the division of WaltDisney Animation Studios responsible for “Planes” and a bunch of straight-to-video sequels that you never knew existed, is back for more cash with “Planes: Fire & Rescue”, which opened in theaters nationwide on Friday.

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Planes_fire_rescue_poster

Release Date: Friday July 18th, 2014

Runtime: 83 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG for action and some peril

Cast: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, John Michael Higgins, Julie Bowen

Disney’s latest film set in the same universe as “Cars”, starts off where last year’s “Planes” left off. Although the film is more suited for younger audiences, “Planes: Fire & Rescue” is generally more successful than its predecessor in telling a compelling story that holds your attention throughout its relatively short screen time.

Planes-2-Fire-and-Rescue-1

Meet (again): Dusty Crophopper (still Dane Cook), a successful racer and an international celebrity. He’s amazing, incredible, people love him (until he starts telling the same stories over and over and over and over again for several years in a row).  That is all well and good until he breaks his gearbox and can no longer race.  After a fire in his hometown Propwash Junction, non-compliance on fire-safety regulations threaten to shut down the local airport. To save the airport, Dusty decides to become an aerial firefighter. The rest of the movie follows Dusty’s adventure as he learns to fight fires and puts his new skills to the test.

Disney Planes Fire and Rescue

While not as impressive as movies made by Disney’s Pixar, the movie is very visually appealing.  The fire and smoke add an extra dynamic to the action and the extended action sequences are genuinely enthralling.  I think what I appreciate most, though, is the reverence with which it treats its subject matter.  This film is, in essence, a tribute to firefighters and recognizes them as the unsung heroes who rush into situations when everyone is running (or in this universe, driving and flying) away.  The movie is surprisingly serious. It is long on action, short on gags, and the jokes that are there are not particularly clever or amusing; however, the story and the message that it conveys make this a worthy summer distraction for your little ones.

Planes Fire & Rescue

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Planes: Fire & Rescue” a 2.893485 with an emoticon based sub ranking of “hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…aww.”

 

Reviews, Uncategorized

“Sex Tape”: A Movie Review

Moviegoers in search of Summer’s latest Blockbuster hit will be looking to head to the box office this weekend and, with a variety of movies slated to open spanning various genres, they’ll have their pick of the litter to chose from.  “Sex Tape”, starring Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz, looks like a promising Summer rom-com, but does it fit the bill?

Sex Tape

Sex Tape Movie Reivew

Wide Release Date: Friday July 18, 2014

Running Time: 94 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.

CastCameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe

Sex Tape Movie In Review

“Sex Tape”, which opened in theaters nationwide on Friday, follows the story of married couple Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segal) whose missing sex tape leads them on the adventure of an otherwise dull evening a lifetime.  Mommy Blogger Annie and her husband Jay have two beautiful children together and a seemingly wonderful life but, like so many others, they’ve lost the spark that once brought excitement and thrill to their relationship.  In an effort to rekindle their romance, Annie surprises Jay with an evening in…without the kids.  Fast forward to the next morning when Jay realizes that the sex tape they made the night before has traveled into the cloud (“ooooh, the clllloooouuuuddd!”).

What Is The Cloud

“Nobody Understands The Cloud!” Just kidding, here you go (you’re welcome).

Not only has the three hour documentary of what happens when parents stop being sober (polite) and start getting drunk (real) traveled up to the cloud, but it’s also been seen by someone…and Jay can’t seem to figure out who it is. The remainder of the movie follows the desperate attempts that Annie and Jay make to protect their image and retrieve the devices that contain their amueture adult film.

The film inspires a few laughs and has the makings of a good comedy but isn’t without its shortcomings.  When you take it at face value, coming in with little expectation (like I did), you’ll likely enjoy what it has to offer.  Audiences on the hunt for this season’s best romantic comedy, however, will find that “Sex Tape” misses the mark. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a fairly ridiculous movie but it’s moderately enjoyable which is all that I think it was aiming for (hopefully).  After a slow start, “Sex Tape” picks up the pace in the back half of the film but tries to wrap up the story in a neat bow which is, perhaps, the biggest complaint that I have.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Sex Tape” a 8.9348394 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Who does that?! I mean, really…” <— And you’ll have to watch the movie to find out exactly what I’m talking about (hint, it’s not about the sex tape).

Sex Tape Movie Review

Reviews

Introducing: Live Colors, A Learning App For Children


 

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Four years ago, I promised myself that I would never be one of those parents who handed over control of a smartphone or tablet to my toddler. Four years ago, I had no idea how many awesome applications are out there that help promote learning for young children. Today I thought it might be fun to introduce you to one of those apps,  Live Colors, which is free right now (for a limited time) on iTunes.

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I just love My three year old loves this application because it’s geared towards her development (move over Picasso, there’s a new Sheriff in town). The entire goal of Live Colors is to help inspire a child’s confidence and creativity, develop their motor skills, and to teach the correlation among various colors (including the process of creating new ones). Awesome, right?! While I don’t encourage too much screen time while children are young, I think this application in particular is a great resource for when you’re out at a restaurant and need a distraction or if you’ve got a long car (or plane, God bless you) ride to endure and need something to occupy your little one (because we all know that you can only sing “Let it Go” so many times in one hour before you start to lose your mind).

The Live Colors app is pretty simple to use. Its interface includes some really cute graphics, 20 fun and animated pages for children to color (or a set of blank pages if your child wants to get really creative), soundtracks for each page, the ability to mix and create new colors, an art gallery for all of your little artists masterpieces, an eraser in case there are any mistakes (hey, life happens, right?!), the ability to share finished pieces on your social media platforms (you’re welcome, all of my Instagram followers ;)) and the ability to print each piece so you can hang it on your wall at home.

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Live Colors is currently available in several languages including English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese (ummm, amazing) and is featured in seven countries in the category Ages 5 & Under > Best New Apps & Games (even more amazing).

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Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself for FREE (that’s right, try it out at absolutely no charge). A little birdie told me that the free offer is going to expire next month so you might want to get on that pretty quickly (you can come back and thank me later). If you’ve used this application before, feel free to head on over to Facebook and share your best piece with me, I’d love to see it!

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I was so excited for the opportunity to connect with Live Colors through my membership on Tomoson.com. I am always careful to only recommend products or services that I believe in.