A Beautiful Smile Made Simple with Smile Brilliant

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Growing older is exciting, and I should know. I just turned 36, and I’ve never felt more confident, happier, or more beautiful in my life. Growing older doesn’t scare me, but that’s because my grandmother – who is as beautiful as ever even after a century of living – taught me that there are two things that make you beautiful no matter how old you get.

Your smile and your attitude.

Attitude is easy; be kind, be grateful, and seek the good in life.

My smile is just as easy; brush, floss, visit the dentist twice a year, and find the right toothbrush. Finally, after 36 years, I’ve finally found the perfect toothbrush to give me the most beautiful smile. It’s the cariPRO Ultrasonic electric toothbrush from Smile Brilliant, and it’s everything. What makes it different from all the other electric toothbrushes on the market is that I actually love it, it doesn’t make my sensitive gums hurt, and I didn’t bleed even once (you guys, I can make my own gums bleed brushing my own teeth with a regular toothbrush).

Why I love it

An electric toothbrush that throws 40,000 vibrations at you every minute is amazing. Not only that, but this is one electric toothbrush that works for you by pausing momentarily every 30 seconds to ensure you know it’s time to switch areas in your mouth. Every area gets the same time, attention, and fabulous cleaning with this helpful feature. Oh – and did I mention the battery lasts 30 days when it’s fully charged? This is great for someone like me who doesn’t like clutter on the bathroom counters and forgets to charge it every night (out of sight, out of mind, right?). It was also a relief when my husband and I spent four days in New York City this past weekend I realized I never put the charger in my carry-on!

My favorite thing, however, is the five brush modes. I’ve tried them all – several times – and my favorite is “White”. I promise you I can see a difference in the mornings after I’ve had three cups of coffee and brush my teeth before I walk out the door to take my littles to school. The other four modes include:

  • Clean
  • Massage
  • Gum care
  • Sensitive

I love all four, but what I really love is that I find I don’t need the sensitive mode as much as I thought I would. With such sensitive teeth and gums, I worried I wouldn’t use any of the other modes because I’d need the sensitive mode, but it’s not true for me. I can use all of them with the same great feeling, less stress, and no sensitivity. Every mode is amazing, and you might find yourself wanting to keep brushing just to use all of them at the same time!

It’s professional teeth cleaning from home (please continue to see your dentist every six months or sooner, if necessary, to ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible). Even better, though, is that I can multitask by brushing in the shower when I’m running behind – I do have four little ones, you know – because the cariPRO is completely waterproof.

I’ve used a few electric toothbrushes in the past, but I’ve never been overly impressed. My teeth are sensitive, and the other electric brushes I’ve used caused bleeding and additional sensitivity. I never felt I was getting any more of a ‘clean’ feeling than I did with the brush my dentist gifts me at the end of every appointment, so I always used them, put them aside, and moved on from them. The cariPRO, however, has changed the game for me. I’m excited to brush my teeth every day, and I’m not worried about hurting myself or causing additional stress to my mouth. It’s such a refreshing change! And it’s affordable, too, starting at only $119 ($199 for a set of two if you and your spouse both want to have the best smile…it makes for great kissing!).

Oral Health Care is so Important

Now that I’ve shared with you the million and one things I love about my new cariPro, I wanted to make sure you know that your oral health is the most important thing you can pay attention to as you age. Now that I’m 36, I get what my grandmother was saying. Being happy and having a beautiful smile keeps my looking youthful, but it also keeps me healthy.

Good oral health care is directly related to good overall health. Using the cariPRO and visiting my dentist every six months helps me improve my chances of living a long, healthy, youthful life that extends far behind just having a beautiful smile thanks to my healthy, white teeth. Good oral health care decreases my risk of developing periodontal and gum disease. Did you know both of these oral health problems can cause an increased risk of developing certain health issues, such as cancer, endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, and pregnancy complications such as low birth weight and premature birth?

I don’t know about you, but having a beautiful smile and a decreased risk of developing serious health problems as I get older is all I need to know to keep me brushing, flossing, and visiting my dentist. It’s also why I am so excited to partner with Smile Brilliant to offer one of my readers/followers a chance to win your very own cariPRO Ultrasonic electric toothbrush! Here’s how to enter my giveaway to win your very own cariPRO Ultrasonic electric toothbrush.

The winner will be randomly chosen and notified shortly!

If you don’t win your own cariPRO Ultrasonic, don’t stress – you can get 20% off your own by visiting https://www.smilebrilliant.com#tiffanyraiford and entering promo code “20TIFFANYRAIFORD” at checkout.

For more information about my new favorite toothbrush, visit https://www.smilebrilliant.com/frequentlyaskedquestions#tiffanyraiford to learn more.

PS: I’ll be sending Santa my promo code so he can make sure everyone in my house gets their own cariPRO in their stocking on Christmas morning…what better gift than the gift of a beautiful smile and a healthy life?

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Monday Motivation: Five Ways to Get Motivated Any Day of the Week

Happy Monday, loves!

It’s so hard to find motivation sometimes, right? I go through off and on periods where I’m super motivated to do all the things, and then there are days that I don’t want to do any of the things. But, there are a few things that I’ve come to notice about my own personal motivation. Let me back that up just a minute and explain.

I am hyper-aware of my feelings. As an adult, I’ve become very mindful about how I’m feeling, what’s making me feel that way, and how I can channel those feelings into something more productive. I am very in tune with my body and my mind, and I’ve learned when to walk away, when to get busy, and when to shut it down and take a break. Trust me, it’s not always convenient, but there are a few things I know I can do to help me feel more motivated. And there are a few things I can do when I’m not feeling motivated to get out of that situation and fix the issues.

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Start on Sunday

The single most important thing I can do for myself is get started with a motivated week on Sunday. Church always motivates me and helps me feel invigorated, happy, and motivated. I feel so good when I leave there, and I feel so ready to tackle the week. I also like to get my calendar in order on Sundays. I prep the things I need to do workwise, and sometimes I get a little bit of a head start if everyone else is busy doing their own thing.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I go into Monday with things to do that I didn’t do on Sunday, I’m in for a stressful day. I will let that stress get to me and bring me down for the week, too, on occasion. So, I can almost guarantee that if my Sunday allows for me to go into Monday with nothing left on my checklist, I can have a productive, awesome week.

Work Out

I don’t have a lot of free time because of my business, kids, marriage, house, life, you name it. So, I tend to find myself sometimes looking for a way to give myself a little more time, and that often makes me feel unmotivated. I might assume I need to skip the gym to find the time to get things done, but that never works out for me.

I never regret time spent at the gym. I always regret skipping the gym. I find myself so much more motivated and energized when I leave the gym. So, I find time to work out. Even if I don’t have much time on a crazy day, I won’t spend my usual hour working out. I might give myself 30 minutes to run or do something that gets my blood going, and it’s always worthwhile.

Stop and Do Something Fun

You can’t force creativity. You just can’t. Sometimes, I have to stop and do something fun. I have to call a friend and tell her she’s got to get dressed and go get coffee or lunch with me. I might leave and go shopping. I might read a book or lay out in the sun or just do something that I’ve been thinking of doing. I always find that I’m more motivated after giving myself a much-needed break.

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Cry it Out

I’m emotional. I feel things really hard; especially when I’m unmotivated and feeling as if I can’t get things together. Overwhelmed is a good description. And, you guys, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when nothing seems to be going my way. Sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is give in and take some time to cry it out. It’s like a refreshing way to clear out all the junk in my mind and on my heart, and it’s a good time to pray and to feel cleansed and renewed. It might be messy – hello mascara and makeup – but I always feel so much better after I cry. Always. There is no sometimes in that one. So, don’t be ashamed to cry. I’m not.

Go With the Flow

I like things routine. Scheduled. On my terms. My way or the highway, we might say. But, sometimes, I’m most motivated after I’ve just gone with the flow. After I’ve made an impromptu decision to do something not on my radar. Going with the flow sometimes reminds me that life is not all about getting things done and it’s more about enjoying the things I’m doing. So, if you need some motivation; stop. Go with the flow. Don’t force anything. It’s better that way.

What do you do on a Monday morning to motivate yourself for the day and the week ahead?

Anything Can Happen, and Being Prepared is a Good Thing

Happy Thursday, loves!

 

A digital detox is sometimes what the doctor ordered, and the Raiford family has spent ample time with our fair share of doctors in the past two or three months! Since our son’s unprovoked grand mal seizure on Valentine’s weekend, it’s been necessary. We are already so busy with our kids and their schedules, our travel schedules, date nights, volunteer schedules, my business, our home, our marriage, and so much more that I needed the detox. I took a break from the blog. I turned down all the campaigns that came my way during this time, and we just focused on living our best life, which is just so easy to do when you appreciate how much good fortune and how much abundance our lives are filled with.

 

When I was offered a chance to work with the legal professionals at Trust & Will to create our trust, will, and appoint guardians, I couldn’t pass it up. Life is short, and you never know what can happen. We had no idea when we woke up the morning of our son’s seizure that a day of pool parties and fun with our favorites would turn into a three-day hospital stay and newfound fear that will last a lifetime. We had no idea our lives would change forever that day, and that’s the point of a trust, will, and guardianship. Life happens, and it’s rarely going to happen as planned.

 

We certainly don’t like to think of our mortality, but it’s inevitable. We need to make sure our sweet babies are cared for. We need to know that they will be taken care of, that our homes are taken care of, my business is managed, and that our bank accounts and life insurance policies and investments are cared for. We need to know these things, and our kids need us to be prepared in case of the worst.

 

Thanks to the amazing legal pros at Trust & Will, we have our newly updated will, our estate, and plan signed, sealed, and delivered right to our door. It took no time at all to complete the process. Our questions were quickly answered by legal professionals with valuable experience, and it was the most enjoyable experience (well, as enjoyable as thinking of your own mortality can be, anyway). And because I want you all to take the time to do some adulting (I know, I know…who wants to adult when the weekend is so close?), Trust & Will is offering all of my followers and readers a chance to save a little money (you can leave it to someone you love in your will) creating your own will. Just visit the site, create an account, and use promo code “ADULTING2019” at checkout for $10 off the cost of your will.

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{ Dress by Lilly Pulitzer } {Necklace and Bracelet by Tiffany & Co.} {Bracelet by David Yurman }

The past few months of detoxing from certain aspects of life have been so invigorating. It’s been so much fun to focus on the kids, on our health, on our travel schedules, and we’ve learned so much in this season of fear and uncertainty. It makes me feel so grateful to know that seasons like this are short-lived, and that they are few and far between. I’m also so grateful for the lessons I learn in trials, how much my faith grows, how much my marriage grows, and how much our kids grow. It’s not always pleasant, but looking back it’s obvious that we sometimes need to slow down, shut down, and learn a few life lessons. And we did.

Our Kids Really Are Best Friends

Carter’s seizure was hard on all of us. Combined with every little thing going wrong at home in the midst of all his appointments and our hectic travel schedule this year, we were prepared to have meltdowns. We were prepared to see the kids unravel. But what happened was the exact opposite. We saw them become closer than ever. They give more hugs. They extend more “I love you’s” to one another. They spend more time together. They watch out for one another. At no point since his seizure has Carter been alone anywhere. They want to be with him. They want to watch out for him, and they realized just how important they are to one another. They bicker less. They get along more. It’s been amazing for us to see them grow so much closer.

 

Everyone has an opinion, and it’s best to nod, smile, and move on

Trust me. Every single person has an opinion. Some of them are valid and welcome. Some are hurtful and unkind. Some are snarky and clearly come from a place of discontent and unhappiness. Don’t worry about it. Say thanks, smile, move on. It’s simple. Anyone who wants to tell you that what terrifies you and changes your life is not that big of a deal is dealing with their own life issues. Lacking sympathy and compassion for people is an ugly trait, but you don’t need to be ugly in return. Simply extend your sincerest wishes to them and feel thankful that they’ve never held their lifeless child in their arms and wondered if they would die. Their ignorance is bliss, and they are so fortunate to have that.

 

I need my husband, and he needs me

 

This is certainly not something we’ve questioned or doubted in the past, but it’s something we are so much more aware of at this point. One thing my husband said to me when we first got engaged was that we would never be the people who sat on separate couches when we watch television or relax at night; we’d sit together. He did not want the same kind of marriage his parents had – they ultimately divorced the year before we wed – after his dad was gone most of his childhood for work, and he did not want to miss out on our future children’s childhoods (he was so sure he’d talk me into having kids…but he probably didn’t think four was our number!). That’s one of the values I love most, but I love it even more knowing that we don’t go through hard things alone. We are right there for one another, and we have one another to hold onto. It’s everything to me.

 

I have to let go

 

I have learned so much lately, and this is such a good thing. If it’s not serving you, let it go. If something isn’t bring you joy or happiness, let it go. Don’t dwell on things. Let them go. Those who live in the past are so unhappy, and they are living such small lives. I can’t sit here and think “What if we’d done XYZ, would it have stopped this from happening?” Or “Why our sweet boy?” Or the many other things that aren’t helpful that are in the past, out of our control, etc. Let it go and let God. If you don’t learn to let it go, you’re going never going to live your best life…which leads me to the following.

 

It’s okay to live your best life

 

I’m a big fan of living my best life, but I found myself saying I wasn’t living my best life following our son’s seizure. I just wasn’t. That’s not who I am. Life wasn’t perfect for me, and I was suddenly not living my best life. Something terrible happened, and suddenly my best life was not easy to see even though I was still living it. When your son is totally fine and his tests are perfect and the doctors tell you he’s a perfectly healthy little love, what about that is not my best life? What about having a healthy son is not best life stuff?

 

My best life is my reality, and I love that about it. My best life is being with my family. My best life is date night. My best life occurs when one of my busy little ones wants to sit down and cuddle with me for even one minute. My best life is lived drinking coffee in my favorite room of my house while my husband sits next to me drinking his and the kids are way too loud. My best life is lived in a five-star resort with a beautiful view and people we love. My best life is lived on Wednesday nights when we get to enjoy our long-standing tradition with our besties. My best life is spending weekends surrounded by the people we love the most laughing and having fun with one another and our kids. My best life is lived being present with my kids. My best life is what makes me happy. It’s not an indication of perfect. It’s my definition of my best life – and I never know where my best life takes me.

 

It’s okay for me to live my best life even when things aren’t perfect. The truth is that no one has a perfect life. My husband irritates me sometimes. He breathes loud when he sleeps sometimes, and it drives me nuts. I have excessive road rage. I am just not a people person. I’m impatient. I’m expensive. I worry, and I have fears, and I have nightmares, and things scare me. I take my 6-year-old nephew to school and pick him up most days, and he drives me beyond crazy because he’s never in a hurry and he’s always in his own world, and I’m annoyed with him more often than no. But that’s me living my best life because I am so fortunate I can do that for my aunt so that her son can go to the school she’s chosen and she can teach at the school where she’s been for decades. Everything that’s imperfect has a good side, and that’s my best life.

 

Life is only as good as you make it, which is why I like to make mine a good one. So, go, create your will. Make a plan. Fix your life. Get rid of things that don’t serve you. Wear big dark glasses and get botox so people can’t see your thoughts on your face. Pray for those who seem sad and lost in their own lives. If you can’t do that, send a prayer of thanks you’re not those people. Focus on the good. Be present. Take a break and spend time doing what you love. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the things that happen to you and around you. Learn. Apply. Move on. Be a good person, always.

2019 Fitness Challenge with BBG – Adding an Additional Program to My Workouts

Happy Wednesday, loves!

So, I did a thing.

Well, I’m working on a collaboration with a company, and I did a thing, and I’m really excited about it. Y’all know that I’m big on being fit and toned, eating well, and being healthy in general. Not that I don’t love me some vino and some decadent and unhealthy foods, but I really place so much importance on being fit and toned.

Listen, I’m 35 years old and my metabolism isn’t going to carry me forever. I love to work out. I love the endorphins and the rush I get after a good workout. My mood is good. I have so much more confidence, and I have zero problem putting on a bikini. I love the feeling of knowing my size and that I can fit into whatever I want to wear. I love that. I love have abs, and I love having a muscle and being toned.

And I’ve developed a serious passion for both running and yoga.

I like the gym, too. I work out at the YMCA when I’m not running at home. I take a very intense yoga class at the Y 2 to 3 days a week, and I use their machines and equipment there, too, when I’m not working out at home. I like a nice variety – but I’ve been a little bored with my standard workouts. Well, bored might not be the right word.

I told my husband before the new year began that I wanted to find a fun new way of working out to add to my running and my yoga. I love both, but I know that I have to add something to it and change it up a bit to make it effective. I’m at a plateau where I love my body the way it is, but I’m not feeling the additional challenge or seeing results in other places because I’m doing the same thing – though yoga is different every single day.

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So, when a collaboration with Kayla Itsines and the BBG workout was presented, I was all over it. I’d been checking the internet – I love you, Pinterest – for new workout ideas and routines, but nothing seemed challenging. When this opportunity came about, I decided I’d give it a try. I love to work out, I love to try new things, and I’m always up for mixing it up.

The idea of 28-minute workouts every day is also exciting to me. I want to be stronger and even more toned, so this is something I’m excited to try. I’m excited to share more with you as I get started. I only just started this week as the program just went live – and that’s exciting.

I’m not going to give up running or yoga. I’m not replacing either, and I am using a combination of the at-home workouts and the gym workouts. I don’t think everyone does that, and it’s certainly not required, but it’s something that I’m excited to try. I’m always up for new things, and this seems fun. I don’t know if I’ll love it. I don’t know if I’ll dislike it, but I do know I’ll see myself through all 12 weeks – because I don’t quit.

Here’s what I’m hoping to get from this workout program.

  • A new appreciation for variation
  • More strength
  • More toned
  • the ability to run further
  • more stamina
  • change
  • a more well-rounded workout

 

While yoga and running give me what I want and what I need, I also love variation and exciting new things – and that’s something I’m going to enjoy. Basically, I love a challenge, and I’m excited to try something new that I’ve never done.

2019 is all about adventure for me, and I’m considering this my first step to trying new things and adding to my life. Here we go!

Being Content: Finding Happiness Right Now

Happy Monday, loves!

I hope you all had the most fantastic weekend. We did, and I loved every second of it! I know I say it all the time, but we are so fortunate to have had the same amazing friends in our lives since long before any of us had kids. We all got married around the same time, we all had our babies together. We’ve been to every one of the other’s baby showers, we’ve spent a least a day together every week for more than a decade, and we are family.

How does it get better than that? How does it get better than having your very own amazing family and then having this amazing family you’ve created for yourself? You have all these memories. You travel and vacation together. You raise your kids together. You spend so much time at one another’s houses you know them and feel as comfortable in them as you do your own.

Family is what life is all about, whether you are born into them or you make them yourself. And I love that.

It also has a little bit of something to do with today’s post, which is all about being content. If you know me, you know I have my off days and a bad attitude and all the uglies sometimes. But you also know that I lay my head down at night with a full heart and a sense of peace that I don’t take for granted. You know that saying, “I remember the days when I prayed so hard for everything I have now?”

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I do.

I remember those days.

And I know that it’s like to want more. I’m always looking to expand my business, to grow more, to have more, to do more, to give back more, to experience more, to be more. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with wanting more.

But, if you know me, you know that I know that I’m content. Like, really, truly, happily content. What I have is everything I’ve ever wanted. I wasn’t always. There was a time when I was younger when I thought I needed more of everything to be content. More money. A bigger house. A more expensive car, another expensive bag, more expensive shoes.

And don’t get me wrong – I love those things.

But they don’t make me happy. I mean, okay, they do make me happy, but they don’t make me content and fulfilled. They bring me temporary joy (like every single time I put them on) but they don’t make me content.

What makes me content can’t be measured in terms of more.

It’s babies who want to be cuddled. Sweet little faces who love me to the moon and back. A handsome man who has loved me since I was 18 years old and has seen me at my very best, my very worst, my most vulnerable, and my ugliest, and somehow decides every single day to love me even more than he did the day before, and to show it in everything he does. It’s people to surround myself with who would do anything for me, who love me, who make fun of me, who make me feel like I’m home when I’m with them.

Learning to Find Content In Your Life

Here’s the thing – once you learn to find it, it’s so easy to keep it.

  • Don’t compare
  • Don’t wish
  • Don’t complain
  • Focus on what is important

 

Comparison is the thief of joy. If you spend your entire life comparing what you have/are/look like/do/go/whatever to what other people have, you’ll never be happy. Additionally, what makes other people happy probably won’t make you happy and vice versa.

Don’t wish. If you want something you don’t have, make it a reality by creating a goal and working for it. Don’t wish for it. Do it. Make it happen. It’s okay to want more if you’re willing to work for it and make it happen. It’s not okay to sit back and wish your life away.

Don’t complain. I mean, it’s okay to complain that Starbucks once again took 2746938473 minutes to make your latte, but then let it go and enjoy the deliciousness of it and remember that without all those minutes, you wouldn’t have this amazingness in your hand.

Focus on what’s important. People. People are important. Things are not. They’re fun, but they’re not important.

 

Really, and honestly, the best way to find content in your life is to focus on what is good in your life. It’s not to sit back and wish for more. It’s getting to work to make your life what you want and then sitting back and enjoying it every step of the way. If I complained about all the things that go wrong in my life, I’d waste a lot of my time being very unhappy. Instead, when life throws me a curve ball, I take a moment to panic, and then I remind myself that every single thing I ever thought was a bad thing in my life somehow turned into the best thing that ever happened to me.

Every lesson in life is just that – a lesson. You learn form it. You grow from it, and you change from it. You let it hurt, you let it get to you for a minute, but you stop yourself and learn to be content with it. You cannot change it, but you can use it to change you for the better. Everything that happens in your life is for a reason, and that reason is to help you grow. Put your faith first and you will always remember that there is something happening because you need to learn from it. You need to grow and change and evolve, and that shit doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone.

That’s how you find content in your life. You smile when you feel happy. You walk away when you need a moment, and you love what you have while you work for more. It’s easier than you think, and I certainly hope that even just one person reads this and realizes that life is really, really good.

Quick, Healthy Pizza With CauliPower!

Happy Friday, loves!

This week flew by! Perhaps it was being gone all last weekend, or maybe it was our daughter’s Safety Patrol Induction ceremony and all that went into planning that (hey, surprise! I’m on the Safety Patrol committee….because what committee am I *not* on? Oh, none, that’s the one I’m not on), or perhaps it’s just because it was a four-day week. I don’t know, but it flew by!

Last week I was fortunate enough to do a campaign with CauliPower, which is an amazing cauliflower pizza crust. We love pizza in our house, but we are huge fans of taking our favorite foods and turning them into healthier options. When the amazing people from CauliPower reached out to me, I was all in to try their amazing crust and shoot this campaign (which is a hilariously funny story I’ll get to in a moment).

Craig and I are big fans of food. We like to consider ourselves foodies. We love to try the most amazing restaurants in the most amazing cities, and we love to cook. I’m not great at it, but he is – and we’re an amazing team. Because we are very health conscious (because metabolism and good genes alone aren’t enough once you hit those mid-30s my friends), we always find a way to make our favorite meals healthier. Since we love pizza, we always look for a cauliflower crust, and we always choose healthy toppings.

This campaign was fun. I received the product on Monday night, the campaign was due Thursday morning, but I wasn’t home Tuesday because of a PTA meeting and a Safety Patrol meeting. We didn’t have time to shoot until Wednesday night – a night all the kids are home, we had guests, and it was POURING rain. The sky was black. Like the night.

Our house is usually amazing for shooting my campaigns because we have so much natural light. We like to say our house is made of glass, and it kind of is. It’s amazing how much beautiful light we have, and we like our furniture and décor to be light and bright, too. Except that it was dark. It was so dark because it was pouring. The rain was insane. The thunder and lighting were insane. Our power went out several times while we tried to shoot. It was so dark, and it made our light, bright kitchen look like a dark, closed off kitchen.

The recessed lights didn’t do any justice. I set the fire alarm off cooking chicken sausage. The kids were terrified of the smoke and the storm. My gorgeous lifestyle shot was not gorgeous. And I drank all the wine.

The pizza, though, was spectacular.

So, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

WHAT YOU NEED

1 cauliflower pizza crust

1 red onion

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Arugula

1 red bell pepper

Salt and pepper

EVOO

3 pieces chicken sausage

 

All you need to do is cook your sausage completely and cut it into small bites. Next, cover your pizza crust with arugula. Slice your bell pepper and add slices to the pepper, add mozzarella cheese, sliced red onion, and then top it with your sausage, and sprinkle a little bit of EVOO on top before adding salt and pepper (I totally borrowed this recipe from my friend, Veronyca Poupard, follow her here on Instagram for more health and fitness tips). Bake it for approximately 10 minutes at 425 degrees, and then enjoy.

I like to pair this healthy pizza with a glass of dry red wine – and you might, too.

Enjoy!

Staying Healthy When Time is of the Essence

Happy Wednesday loves!

I have no problem admitting I’m vain. I like to look good. I take care of myself, and I like to maintain good health for aesthetic purposes. However, I really like to maintain good health for a few other – more important – reasons than just my outward appearance (though I believe looking good on the outside helps improve self-confidence, which helps improve my mood, which helps improve my productivity, which makes me a nicer person, which makes my family like me more, which makes me happier…it’s the circle of life, right?).

I don’t know if y’all know this, but I have four little babes – and I want to be around for a very long time. I have a lot of boys to tell them they can’t date, a lot of girls to smile at in person and tell my husband, “Oh, HELL no,” when our son can’t hear, weddings to dress up for, grandbabies to cuddle and love, and basically another 80 or 90 years of memories to make (laugh now, but longevity is a thing in my family, and my husband likes to make the very bad joke that I’ll be married to my second husband a lot longer than him because he’ll live an average lifespan to my 120 years. He’s so wrong, though. There can’t be two men in this world crazy enough to want to live with me).

Anyway, my point is that life is a little bit crazy with all we have going on, and this week is one of those weeks that just gets crazier – if you can believe that.

We haven’t been home in the evenings in well over a week, I’m in the middle of packing us up for a 2.5-hour flight to Texas, a 5-hour drive from the airport to the farm, and time spent with my amazing grandmother. I have clients, deadlines, and projects going on. Kids with sports and activities, and there is always fun to be had with our people. We were out late last Tuesday for the fourth, Wednesday because we had our regularly scheduled #wednesdaynightdinner, Thursday for a family exercise situation at the YMCA, Friday for family date night, Saturday on the boat, Saturday night for family date night, Sunday at church and the river house, Monday for hair appointments and cheer uniform fittings, last night for tumbling, tonight for #wednesdaynightdinner, tomorrow night for a meeting…do you see what I mean?

I’m up at 5 am, we aren’t getting everyone to bed until late, and then we’re passing out quickly after them, and I’m exhausted. I have to work ahead so I don’t have to take my computer with me while we’re gone, and that means doubling up my efforts. It’s a lot of prep and work (thank you Lord for sending me a husband who efficiently packs for himself so that I don’t have to) but it’s my life, y’all.

So…this is usually when I start to feel myself coming down with something, but I refuse.

We put a lot of emphasis on healthy habits and eating, and we always have. It’s just a lifestyle for us, and it works so well. We have more energy, we feel better, and we get sick infrequently, but weeks like this always challenge me as I run myself into the ground. So, I thought I’d share a quick blog post about how I make sure I stay healthy when life is like, “No, eat all the donuts and definitely go to Chick-Fil-A and get that warm cookie for dessert,”.

Keep Eating the Good Stuff

It’s so easy to decide to get all kinds of lazy when life is hectic. Drive-thrus, take out, and unhealthy eats are just easier, but that’s not how we roll. I maintain my regularly scheduled eating on weeks like this. Some of my favorite quick and easy go-to meals include the following.

  • Greek yogurt, fruit, granola
  • Strawberries, blueberries, oranges and raspberries
  • Lots and lots of water and coffee
  • Peanut butter with tiny chocolate chips when I want something sweet

For dinner, we almost always have something simple like fresh salmon with a lemon butter sauce, baked or grilled chicken with either a cilantro lime marinade or something like a mango/avocado salsa on top, filet, and we rarely ever have a starch. We are double up the veggie kind of people – not that we don’t love starches, but we reserve those for get-togethers and stuff like that.

We love to take our favorite guilty pleasure foods and make them healthier. For example, I’m a taco-aholic who could eat them all day, every day, constantly. Problem – I don’t like pork or really any form of red meat other than filet. So, we bake chicken, mix it with chile peppers, tomatoes, and onions, bake it, and put it in a taco shell. Amazing. I also love pizza, so we will do a cauliflower crust with baked chicken, tomatoes, red onion, fresh mozzarella, and some buffalo sauce – amazing.

The key is to find things you love that don’t take much time to make, and then make them a lot healthier. It helps you stay feeling good and not falling apart because your body hates what you’re putting into it.

Don’t Skip the Gym

This one is easy for me. I love how I feel when I work out, so missing a day at the gym is not something I allow often. The good news is you can take a half hour and just go with it, and that’s amazing! Take a walk, go for a run, do a yoga work out on your computer. I do two to three days a week of intense yoga for an hour. I do three to four days a week on the treadmill. I run 8 miles a week minimum, and I’m working up my minimum to 10 miles a week. I also mix in another class such as HIIT (okay, once, last week) here and there to try something new. Just don’t skip the workout. It’s so important.

Take a Break

Sometimes you just need one. I know I do. I like to take a break, drink some water, read a little. Sit on the porch and watch the sunset. Sit on the deck and watch the sunrise with some coffee and whatever Bible study I have for the week. One thing that’s always been helpful to us is definitely our Wednesday night dinner tradition. It’s like 10 years of a mandatory mid-week break. We either host our friends or they host us. The kids get to play, we get to have an adult conversation (which is definitely appropriate and mature….), and force ourselves to put work away for a few hours. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s like therapy when you’re a workaholic with a hundred kids.

Find Motivation

Sometimes I get tired. I lack motivation and the desire to do anything. I know once I get started I’ll be fine, but it’s the getting started part that sucks. So, I start writing down things I already did today on my to-do list for the sheer satisfaction of crossing them off.

Brush my teeth. Check. Wake up. Check. Shower. Check. Drink coffee. Check. Kiss husband. Check. Kiss babies. Check. I mean, my to-do list sometimes looks like a hot ass mess of WTF, but once I see more items checked off than not, my brain forgets that things like ‘Breathe, check,’ are not actual accomplishments and my bad-assery kicks in and I get things done.

What do you do to stay healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally when you’ve living la vida loca (but the boring kind of la vida loca, not the music video kind where you’re on a yacht poppin’ bottles and living it up)?

Recipe Wednesday: Healthy Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps in Under 20 Minutes

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Happy Wednesday, loves!

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I are pretty good about what we put into our bodies. Healthy food is priority in our home, but we don’t have much time. I swear, sometimes I’m not even sure how we function with all we have to do, but we get it done. One of the most frequently asked questions I receive in my inbox has to do with how we manage to eat well without much time to cook.

Honestly, we cheat the system a bit. We try to make recipes that are healthy but that take much time. I thought I might start sharing those with y’all. One, so you can also learn how to spend a lot less time in the kitchen as well as a lot less time feeling guilty about what you’re eating. Two, to inspire and motivate us to find and create new healthy, fast, and simple recipes to try. It’s a win-win.

I’m starting Recipe Wednesday with our typical Monday night dinner. Mondays are our latest night of the week. Addison – our 9-year-old – has gymnastics and advanced tumbling classes on Monday nights. Her last class doesn’t end until 7:30 and the drive home takes approximately 1 hour.

We usually take turns taking her while the other stays home and does bedtime and bath time with Ava and the twins, and whoever is home makes something fast and easy. And this is legit the fastest and easiest thing we make….so it almost always falls on a Monday.

Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps

All you need is a premixed Caesar salad, boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins, and some whole wheat wraps.

We like to bake the chicken with just a little salt and pepper on it until it’s done. We chop the bagged salad, put it into a bowl with a tiny bit of fresh parmesan and a small amount of low-fat Caesar salad dressing, and then we cut and mix the chicken and throw it in.

Mix it up, place it on a whole wheat wrap, wrap it up, and enjoy!

It’s flavorful, simple, and not so bad for you. And it’s one of our favorite things to eat when we have zero time. We love Publix chicken tenderloins (random and weird, but I have this thing where I cannot stomach the thought of eating “fat” chicken. Seriously, I cannot buy whole chicken breasts to cook. It has to be the tenderloins or the really skinny pieces of the breast that have been cut like they’re flat). They take about 20 minutes to bake. We usually stick them in the oven while we’re upstairs putting the twins to bed, and then mix up the salad and the chicken when we come downstairs.

It takes so little time, but dinner is ready when the other gets home with Addison. It keeps life quick, and it allows for easy clean-up and not such a late night!

Enjoy! If you make it, I want to hear how much you love it and/or how you’ve modified

Friday Favorite: Working Out to Feel Oh-So Good

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Happy Friday, babes!

Isn’t April just gorgeous? I love this time of year in Florida when the temperature is warm during the day but cool in the mornings and evenings…the open doors and windows, the late nights outside, and the fun we have with the people we love the most. Halfway through the month and the Raiford household is in a good mood. It’s been a busy but productive month, and everyone has been in such a good mood the past few weeks.

I think it has something to do with the fact that we’ve been so active, and my husband and I have been making a major effort to work out together most days. We’ve been focused a lot on working out this month just to make some healthier changes in my husband’s life. I find the time every day to exercise, but he often finds himself deep in a project with work and doesn’t move from his desk all day long.

He’s been making an effort to go running during lunch, and I’ve been joining him even on days I go to yoga first! On days I don’t have yoga, he’s been making it a point to ask me to wait to go to the gym so he can go with and work out during his lunch break. It’s been amazing challenging one another and seeing him working so hard on his health – I like it a lot.

Because I’ve been talking about it lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions in my inbox about my workouts, our workouts, and things of that nature. I thought I’d take some time to share why I love working out, what I do, and answer some of your questions.

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How often do you work out?

5-6 days a week almost every week, but never fewer than 4 days a week. I do two days a week at yoga for an hour, and the other days I spend at the gym doing a variety of things to keep my body in shape. I don’t feel good if I workout fewer than 4 days a week, and I really don’t love only getting in a four-day workout if our schedules are hectic. I love to workout daily. If I have 10 extra minutes, I will run or go to the gym and literally workout hardcore for 10 minutes – because it makes me feel better.

What do you do?

Again, two days of yoga – but it’s not regularly yoga. My instructor is hardcore, and she pushes us. Our yoga class usually involves 20-30 minutes of challenging stretches and core workouts on the floor and another 30 minutes of sun salutations made exceptionally challenging. Most of us are sweating, panting, and in LOVE with her classes. I’m challenged hardcore each and every class, and I love it.

The rest of the week I hit the gym. I use the weight machines for 10-15 minutes, and I always do a half hour on either the treadmill or the elliptical to go with it. Lately, I’ve been running with Craig. I’m not a runner, so I’m learning, but it’s been surprisingly easy. I guess I’m in shape because I don’t feel like I’m dying. Yesterday I did 2 miles in 20 minutes without stopping or slowing down. I’m slow, but I literally just started running a week ago!

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How do you find the motivation?

Listen, I’m not motivated to get up and add something else to my schedule every day. Our kids have hectic schedules, I have a business to run, and my husband and I can’t always get our schedules to line up. However, I always find the motivation to feel good. I motivate myself by reminding myself how good I feel and how much I love the energy I have when I exercise. That’s my motivation. Additionally, I’m vain enough to realize that I’ve been pregnant three times and given birth to four kids and I have a great body – and I like that.

How do you make exercise more fun?

I don’t do things I don’t like. It’s pretty simple. If I try something and I don’t like it, I don’t do it. For example, I *HATE* Bodypump, so I don’t go to that class. I also find that I don’t care much for Spin – though I think I could change my mind about that one. Exercise is fun when it’s something I enjoy. Yoga, for instance, is my favorite. I also love to work out on machines that allow me to challenge myself. I always want to go further, faster, and better than I did the last time.

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I find challenges make me love working out. Lately, I’ve been running with my husband. I’m not as fast as he is, but I find that I’m more willing to run longer and without stopping when he’s there. I mean, I don’t want to be the first one to stop, so I push myself to keep going when I don’t want to just so I ‘win’ because I love a good, healthy competition. We have fun together, so that makes it fun.

I also wear fun workout gear. One of my favorite things to do is find the most outrageous yoga pants possible because they make me happy. Bright colors and fun patterns certainly put me in a good mood. It’s impossible to put on a pair of bold and bright yoga pants and not feel excited about my workout. It’s simple, really.

Do you only exercise?

No. We also eat well and healthy. I’d say 90 percent of what we eat is good, but we aren’t above a great cocktail or dessert – or bacon. We just don’t eat poorly often. A typical day in our house is healthy. I, for example, eat the same thing almost every day.

Breakfast/Lunch (I cannot eat early in the morning. I’m not hungry, it gives me a stomachache, and it makes me ravenous the rest of the day if I do eat breakfast) is at 11 am: 1 orange, half cup of Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and a quarter cup Publix granola from the produce section (omg, it’s so good), 2 scrambled eggs.

Snack is at 2ish: A tablespoon of creamy peanut butter with a teaspoon of tiny chocolate chips.

Dinner is around 5:30 pm: Always a baked chicken, fresh salmon, or filet Friday with double veggies and no starches. We find a way to make our favorite unhealthy foods healthier, too. Craig makes a killer homemade pizza on a thin crust, we love healthy chicken piccata, and any wheat pasta with roasted veggies on top is my favorite.

I find that eating later in the morning means I’m actually hungry, and it curbs my appetite the rest of the day. I also drink like 89 cups of water a day – and black coffee all morning.

{We ran a 5k with our 9-year-old daughter last weekend. The first picture is us with her after we finished. She walked and ran the mile, we both ran the 5k. It was my first time running a 5k (I’ve walked plenty of them…) and I finished in 35 minutes. The second picture is my husband and I before the run….and right after I put my arm around him and asked him to take a photo only to realize I put my arm around a teenage boy and got awfully comfortable with him because Craig had walked away! It was hilarous, and now he’s our new friend, and he snapped this picture!}

At the end of the day…

I am not an expert or a health professional or a coach or whatever. However, I do love to work out and I do get a lot of questions, so I’m just answering them and hopefully motivating someone to get up and get moving.

My main goal is to stay healthy and look great. I love to feel great, and I want to be sure my husband is as healthy as possible so I can keep him longer. We’re celebrating 13 years of marriage next month and 17 years together this year….and I want to multiply the amazing years we’ve had already by a million. If I can’t get him healthier and I can’t stay healthy, that might be a challenge.

I love to exercise because I love how I feel. I love being in a good mood. I love being stress-free, and I love feeling more relaxed and energized. I also love that I like how I feel in my clothes, and I love never being ashamed of putting on a two-piece and going in public. I just like feeling good.

 

**When I don’t want to work out or stop my work-flow, I remind myself that I’m going to be furious with myself later if I don’t work out. I’m always right, and I always feel amazing after a workout. Being strong is so important. 

***One of the best things about working out with your spouse, too, is how good it feels to challenge one another. It’s good for you. 

2017: The Year of Quality Over Quantity

2017 is over. Can you believe it? I swear the years go by faster every day. I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that it was New Year 2017 just a minute ago and now we’re mere days away from ringing in 2018 with abandon. Anyone? Just me? No?

2017 was good to us. It had its up and downs of course. Life is far from perfect in the Raiford household, but it’s really good – we’ve worked really hard to build a life of freedom, and we are enjoying every second of it.

It’s been good to us, but we always have room for growth. And that’s what 2017 brought to us. It was a year of growth. We call it the year of quality over quantity. It’s difficult to explain, but we had a moment at the end of 2016 – somewhere before Christmas but definitely after Thanksgiving – when we realized we needed to make some changes in our lives.

We were getting ready to go somewhere and do something with our girls, who were 8 and 5 at the time, and they both sighed. “Can’t we just stay home for once? We always have to go places. We’re tired,” they whined.

Wait. What?

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Their lives are good. Were they really complaining about spending the evening with their friends? Were they really being ungrateful about all the fun we provide them? Weekend after weekend of traveling, of spending time with friends and family, of going to BBQs and pool parties and Christmas events and Disney World. Were they really complaining?

They were. And what made it even worse was that we knew what they were saying. We were also exhausted. We were never home. In 2016 we didn’t even take a trip for our wedding anniversary like we wanted because every weekend was pre-planned with some event, function, party, etc. We had no free time – we were actually scheduling free time in our calendars. We were tired. It wasn’t that we weren’t having a great time – we definitely were. But we were just worn out. Run down. Tired.

We have four kids. My husband has a career he loves, and it keeps him busy. I have my business to run, and it keeps me busier and busier everyday with new growth, projects, and clients. We have four kids. The twins were about to turn three (side note – I’m dying over here thinking they will be four in less than three months. I mean, I was just pregnant with them!), and that many kids doesn’t really provide a lot of opportunity for rest and relaxation.

We knew we had to make some changes. We wanted to be more deliberate with our time. We wanted to learn to say no to being overscheduled. We wanted to start planning things for our family to do together just us so we could really spend some quality time with the kids. The twins were more fun than ever, easier to travel with, easier to take out.

We wanted to be more deliberate, and we wanted to have more time at home. We bought our dream house in 2014, and we’d spent very little time in it – even though we both work from home – just enjoying it. Our kids were tired, we were tired. We needed some change.

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Que New Year’s 2016-2017. We decided we’d learn to say no to things that didn’t work with our schedule instead of saying yes to everything and killing ourselves trying to get everything done. Sundays were a no-no for plans. Sundays would become our day as a family. No plans other than church and relaxation. If we wanted to do something, we’d wake up and make that decision, but we agreed no making Sunday plans.

And I cannot even tell you how good this year was to us. We had more free time – though I am ashamed to say that more free time is still not nearly enough free time – and we were able to schedule so many of the things we were never able to find time for in the past. Sundays became very well spent in a slow, sweet manner. Mondays were so much nicer because we were prepared, organized, and rested because of those slow Sundays.

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The kids are so much happier. They love the quality family time we are spending together, and they love the ability to sometimes get to stay home and enjoy the many things they never got to enjoy before. We took more bike rides and golf cart rides. We took more walks. We played outside a lot. We baked cookies and had family movie nights and spent weekend after weekend at Disney World just enjoying what they wanted to do. We slept in, we made big breakfasts, we took day trips to our favorite places. We traveled.

My husband and I were able to find the time to schedule five long weekends and trips this year. Just the two of us. Just to spend to quality time together (we do have four kids….). From New York to Fort Lauderdale to California to South Carolina to Naples, we earned plenty of frequent flier miles this year. We had another three or four single nights away a little closer to home in Tampa in Orlando. We dated. We laughed. We focused on our marriage a lot more this year. It was good.

We also made it our goal to spend at least one weekend a month out of town with the kids. Tampa and Orlando are easy drives, and we wanted to really get some serious use out of our Disney passes this year. We made sure to schedule a few of those weekends away with just the big girls to spend a little quality time with them, but we made it a point to really enjoy this new stage the twins are in that makes life so much simpler.

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I think the highlight of my year – and I’m so serious – was when we were flying home from a fun vacation in North Carolina and two total strangers came up to us at two separate times in the airport and on our flights and told us what well-behaved, delightful kids we have and how well they travel.

If that’s not a mom’s dream come true…

Quality.

It was all about quality this year. We are getting older. The kids are getting older. We were changing. Maturing a bit, growing up a bit, and our wants and needs were evolving. It was time for us to focus our priority on doing what makes us happy and what makes us feel good rather than making sure every day in our calendar was filled.

As a result of focusing on quality, so much of our life has changed for the better. The kids are less exhausted, and they’re so much easier. We can load them up, take them out, sit down at a nice restaurant, and we don’t have to worry they’re too tired or cranky to behave. We are less exhausted, so we aren’t as grouchy or as impatient as we were in the past.

We are more focused on our work, and it’s shown in both of the advancements we’ve made this year. Craig has never been more ebullient. I’ve been able to find the energy to expand my company and take on some major new clients, as well as focus on a change of direction in some of the services I offer.

It’s hard to explain, but slowing down has really made a change in our lives. It feels good to be in control, and it feels really, really good to spend so much quality time as a family. I didn’t even realize how much I like spending time with these little animals until this year because I’ve been on autopilot for so long.

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Now that I’ve written a small novel, I want to share with you how we made the change to focus more on quality than on quantity in 2017 if it’s something you want to do, too. I’m also working on a post about how we’re getting #backtobasics in 2018 for later.

Be Deliberate with Your Time

Learn to say no. It’s not easy, but sometimes you just have to say no when you’re tired, not feeling well, not up for it, not in the mood, when you have other plans, when you just want to relax. Sometimes you just have to say no. It gets easier each time, and it’s going to change your life. Remember – your time is valuable. It’s too expensive to dish out so frequently on things that aren’t as valuable to you.

Focus on Your Health

Get some sleep. If there’s one thing I’ve always believed, it’s that sleep is too important to miss out. A few late nights here and there are fun, but nothing beats a good night of sleep followed by feeling good the next morning. There just isn’t enough time to waste not felling well or being too tired to function all the time.

Work out and eat good food. Nothing feels as good as being healthy, and nothing feels as good as moving your body and fueling it with things that are good for you. I don’t feel well when I don’t work out. I don’t have energy, I’m crabby, and my body gets really angry with me when I don’t feed it well. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my favorite unhealthy things; I do. I just do it in moderation (mostly…we all have our moments).

Take a Rest Day

For us, leaving Sundays open and unplanned has been the best decision we’ve ever made. It doesn’t always work out, of course, but doing this most weekends has been amazing. Nothing makes the week more exciting, more productive, and better than being well rested and prepared.

Get Organized

Life is better when it’s organized. I can’t sleep if my house isn’t clean. I can’t leave the house if it’s not clean. I can’t function if things are out of place or order or ignored. It’s not who I am. I know not everyone is such an obsessive neat freak, but it really is easier to get through life when you’re organized and on top of things.

Do What You Want

If there is something you want to do, do it. It’s better to do it now than keep waiting on it. Find the time. Make the time. Do the things.

Thank you, 2017

Thank you for helping us grow, for changing our hearts, and for allowing us to prosper. Our life is so filled with abundance, and we are so grateful and thankful for the opportunities we’ve found, created, and been given this year and the years before. It’s been more than a little exciting to exceed our goals, to surpass our dreams, and to have the opportunity to spend so much time together. Here’s to 2018 and all the blessings, lessons, and new beginnings in store.