Healing Waters Float Spa

Healing Waters Float Spa

I love a good day at the beach. The waves, the pure vitamin D rays of the sun, and the salt in the air all bring me absolute joy. I never feel better than on the car ride home … and the best sleep that I get is the night that follows. Now science is telling us that, at least for the “salt” part, there is something to it and it’s coming to us in the form of flotation therapy at Healing Waters Float Spa.

Flotation therapy is a therapeutic practice involving custom designed flotation cabins filled with 10″ of water and over 1,300 pounds of dissolved medical grade Epsom Salt, a higher concentration than the Dead Sea. Floaters are free from external stimuli such as sight, sound, touch, temperature, and the force of gravity as they float weightless and effortlessly in water calibrated to match the skin’s temperature (F 93.5).

Flotation therapy is a phenomenal tool to cultivate mental stillness, provide stress relief, and pain reduction. Experiencing deep rest in the float cabin rejuvenates the body and min leading to a vastly improved quality of life and greater level of overall well-being. We traveled across the United States and Europe to research flotation and we wanted to create for our community the most tranquil, luxurious and Eco-friendly atmosphere for one to gain the most blissful experience,” states Joseph Cyrus, co-owner of Healing Waters Float Spa.

Floating allows you to conserve and redirect your natural energy, induce relaxation and heal your body, mind, and soul. The average person can reach a meditative state in 20 minutes. Doctors and pro-athletes have known about the incredible benefits of magnesium sulfate for years but technological advances have no made the experience far better for muscle recovery, pain relief and even enhanced sleep management.

My daughter, Piper, and I had the chance recently to visit the Healing Waters Float Spa and experience a 60 minute float. I’ll admit – we needed this for different reasons. Piper, a dancer putting in 20+ hours on most weeks, can definitely benefit from the healing properties, and I desperately need the relaxation.

healing waters float spa

The process is very simple and is conducive to complete relaxation. Upon arriving at Healing Waters, you are led to your own spa room. Inside you will find a full shower, changing area, and your pod. First you will take a shower to remove any lotions, oils, etc., from your body. Then you put in silicone ear plugs. (You roll them between your fingers and with your body warmth, they are able to take the shape of your individual ear. Finally, you are ready to step into the spa pod.

healing waters float spa

When I opened the door, there was a soft blue light and an immediate warmth. I stepped into water that felt amazing immediately. There was gentle spa music filling the air as I sat, then leaned back. I’ll tell  you that it was nothing short of the weirdest feeling as I began to float. I wanted to look over to a friend and say “are you seeing this?” But, alas … A friend that experienced this type of spa in another city had recommended that I turn the lights completely off to really get the full experience which I did. For a person who can not and does not relax, 60 minutes is a long time! But I’m happy to report that within minutes, I had dozed off.

With the total darkness and just the soft music, I had the feeling that I suspect being in outer space is like. You still move slightly in the water, so it’s an odd sensation as you feel your muscles relax. I’ll add too that I am the coldest-natured person on the planet – I was never cold, nor was I hot. It was literally the perfect temperature.

Doctors and pro-athletes have known about the incredible benefits of magnesium sulfate for years, but technological advances have now made the experience far better for muscle recovery, pain relief and even enhanced sleep management. And, Piper can definitely attest that this is true! We are adding this to our therapy and recovery regime from now on.

healing waters float spa

Healing Waters Float Spa has officially opened in River Oaks (Houston) by co-owners Joseph Cyrus and Juan Carlos Mazorra (native Houstonian and one of the original partners who created Hughes Hangar Castro Lounge).

The wonderful folks at Healing Waters Float Spa have given me a code that I can give to my readers.

“CLICKFLOAT” will give you 50% off of your first float ($45). This code is good until June 30, 2018.

After your float, contact me. I want to hear how much you loved it!

 

Dryel – Awesome Product for Your Delicate Fabrics

Dryel – Awesome Product for Your Delicate Fabrics

dryel

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post paid for on behalf of Dryel. It also contains affiliate links. The opinions stated are 100% my own. I used this product long before I was chosen for the promotion.

I have a secret: I’ve not walked into a dry cleaners in years. Years. The reason is two-fold, actually. First, if I see “dry clean only” on the tag – I walk away. Second, and more importantly, if it must be dry cleaned and my life won’t move forward without it – I use Dryel.

Dryel has been a saving grace for me for years when it comes to Piper’s dance costumes. After a few competitions, they need to be washed. The fabrics are so delicate and usually contain tons of mesh and rhinestones. It’s quite the production! I know many moms that just put them in the washer on delicate, cross their fingers and hope for the best.

That, in theory, gives me hives. 

I’m not willing to risk it – especially in the middle of competition season. I need the costumes clean and don’t have time to do repairs.

Enter Dryel!

dryel

In 3 steps, I am ready to rock ‘n roll:

Pre-Treat :: Check for stains. Most often on costumes, this is deodorant and make-up. The pre-treat option with Dryel reminds me of a stain stick. Compact and super easy to use!

Clean :: Put your garment(s) in the Dryel bag with the cleaning cloth (provided) and toss the bag into the dryer on medium heat for 15 minutes.

After :: If you still have some pesky wrinkles, hang the garment on a hanger and use the wrinkle spray.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klr2etIMjHc[/embedyt]

I wish this screen had “scratch and sniff” – Dryel smells amazing! It is so fresh, but not in a perfume way. Aside from how easy this product is to use, the smell is another factor that sells me!

If you are a dry cleaning fanatic, give this a shot. It’s so cost effective, and hello – you use your dryer! No more forgetting to pick up the cleaning! It couldn’t be any easier. Once you try it, let me know what you think!

Trip to China – 10 Days with Ker & Downey

Trip to China – 10 Days with Ker & Downey

Roughly three years ago, I left a decade long career in church ministry to join a team of fun-loving professionals in the travel industry. I was looking for a change and longing for something different in my life — something that I had never done before in an office setting. Close to home and family-run, I jumped in with both feet and before I knew it, fell in love with the world of international luxury travel that is otherwise known as Ker & Downey. So when a trip to China presented itself to me last year, I couldn’t refuse checking the box off of my bucket list. For 10 glorious days, I partnered with my colleague, Michelle, and we learned as much as we could so that our travel clients could experience the absolute best accommodations, touring, and luxury that is offered in the locations that we visited.

trip to china

DAYS 1-3, BEIJING

My flight to China was direct from Houston to Beijing. The plane departed at 1AM and was 15 hours in the air. Looking back, I should have upgraded to Business — it only took about 45 minutes to figure out that was no place to cut costs! Air China was great with food service, water, etc. and I had wonderful seat partners, but 15 hours is a long time to be swished in an economy seat. My husband had advised that I try to stay awake as long as possible so that my days and nights would get worked out more quickly upon arrival, so heeding that advice, I watched “You’ve Got Mail” via the plane seatback screen and then fell asleep.

I arrived in Beijing at 6am local time and was met with darkness at landing. One of the services with Ker & Downey is VIP airport assistance. Unlike the man holding a sign at baggage claim that we are used to in the US, my Beijing airport assist met me right at the door of the plane. She was a tiny little lady that was quick as a whip! After sitting on the plane for more than half of a day, she got my blood pumping as we walked swiftly through the airport and into the customs area. She had me sign the immigration papers that were necessary and then led me to a seated area. She took care of everything, and when all was done – came back for me. We avoided all lines (which were SO long) and walked straight to an official who stamped my book and sent us on our way to baggage claim. We grabbed my luggage from the carousel and she led me to my guide, Jessie.

Jessie has the most infectious personality. She is joyful, sweet, so smart, and a pure delight. Because it was so early in the morning, we started our day as one should … with a trip to Starbucks! Our driver was on the way and navigating a small bit of commuter traffic. Soon after we finished our coffee (and tea for me), we hopped into our private car and headed to the hotel. When we arrived at the Waldorf Astoria Beijing, my room wasn’t quite ready yet (I was only 6 hours early LOL!) so they held my luggage and Jessie took me out for a walk though Beijing.

On this walk I saw one of the most spectacular sights of the entire trip: sunrise over the Forbidden City. It was absolutely spectacular and no photo does it justice.

travel to china

Upon our return, my room was ready and I checked in. I was in the lap of luxury, literally. I was in a Deluxe Room with a king bed and floor to ceiling windows. There were electric darkening shades that could be lowered and allowed me to rest even though the sun was shining outside. The bed was just what I needed after a long flight – it was so comfortable. I made good use of the rainfall walk-in shower and the large soaking tub (with mounted television). Room service had a mix of western and Chinese food which was very nice!

travel to china

In China, all of the traditional social media that we are used to in the United States is outlawed. So, using WeChat (a Chinese texting and facetiming app) and the wi-fi in the room, I was able to facetime home to chat with my family and show them my surroundings. After that, I laid down for a nap (big mistake – woke up 6 hours later).

The following morning, I met with Michelle (who flew in from LA and landed in the evening) for breakfast. Shortly after, we met up with Jessie and headed out for a full day tour of Beijing starting with Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City. Jessie was so knowledgeable of the history of Beijing and the Ming and Qing Dynasties. I felt like I was walking along with a living history book as she knew the answer to every question that we threw at her.  The architecture was gorgeous and it really rattled my brain that ordinary men – centuries ago – were able to build marvels of this magnitude without the help of modern machinery. It’s absolutely mindblowing.travel to chinaAfter a delicious lunch, we walked to Jingshan Park for a panorama of the Forbidden City. Then we made our way to the Poly Art Museum. In the company of the museum’s Senior Docent, we toured what is considered one of China’s best private museums. They have a great collection of bronze artifacts all original to China, as well as an amazing number of rare Budda’s. Having this private tour with the Senior Docent was incredible and brought the museum to life.

travel to china

travel to china

After the museum visit, we returned to our hotel for the evening. We were a bit jet-lagged still, and it was a long day of touring. We had checked out of the Waldorf Astoria when we left for the day and our luggage was transferred to the Peninsula Beijing.

The newly renovated Peninsula Beijing has just over 230 rooms. I was in a deluxe room and it had a dressing room, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Everything was connected via iPad like devices so that I could control all.the.things from one device. The tech geek that I am LOVED it!

travel to china

travel to china

travel to china

travel to china

Let me stop to admit that I’m a bathroom lover. A good bathtub will win me over quicker than anything else in the world. This bathtub was fantastic, but my favorite part was the little iPad remote that you can see in the wall. It had a spa setting. When you pressed that, the television turned off, the lights dimmed, and spa music began to play. I could have stayed in the tub for all 10 days. It was magical.

The following morning, we got up early on a clear and beautiful day and headed to tour the Temple of Heaven. The unique aspect of visiting the Temple of Heaven was that it was filled with locals. The age was definitely on the older side, well past retirement. They were exercising as we came in and it was a sight to see – no wonder the Chinese lifespan is so long. They were flexible and really getting in a workout. We passed by exercise machines (out in the open, in a park type setting. We need these in the US.) Also, there were many doing Tai Chi. Some were alone, and others studying the craft with a teacher. We watched for quite a while and couldn’t get enough.

Just inside the official gate area of the Temple of Heaven, there was a flower show that was set up. The colors were magical and absolutely brilliant. I was really pleased at how well the iPhone 8+ captured the colors in the morning light. I couldn’t help but think about my mom, who has the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen, and how much she would have loved all of these flowers!

travel to china

The Temple of Heaven reminded me a lot of the Forbidden City with the architecture style and reverence. Sitting high upon the hill, the Temple of Heaven was used by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to offer sacrifices to heaven and pray for good harvests.

travel to china

On our way out, the locals that were seen so active on the way in had made their way into small groups to play cards, dominoes, and mahjong. They are a quite competitive bunch. We enjoyed looking in on their games and hearing the laughter. It really was something to experience!

travel to china

Once we finished, we got back into the van and headed through the countryside to the Great Wall of China – Mutianyu. The traffic was heavy as we headed through the hills and our guide was quick to tell us that it was because it was such a warm and beautiful day. The Chinese families like to go out and enjoy the weather together. So, we rested a bit and chilled until we stopped for lunch and then continued on our way.

To give you a quick few sentences serving as a reminder on the Great Wall, you need to know this: Construction began prior to the birth of Christ (221 BC) and is one of the most extensive construction projects ever completed as it spans over 3,000 miles. The base is anywhere from 15-50 feet high (depending upon the section) and the actual wall is anywhere from 15-30 feet high with guard towers at certain intervals. The Great Wall is the only manmade structure that is visible from space.

To see the Great Wall in person is emotional. I couldn’t help but stare in absolute awe at how human hands – even in massive numbers – could have built such a marvel. We went to one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, called Mutianyu — which used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. Michelle, Jessie and I took a cable car up the mountain to start our great adventure. Let me tell you, that is the way to go! The views are absolutely stunning. (The walk to the cable car though … Shew. I should have been training with the elderly people that we saw earlier that morning. It is a hike right up the side of the mountain – probably 1/4 of a mile!)

travel to china

Once to our destination, we took our time walking the wall. I wish I had a great estimate of how far we walked, but I’d hate to guess. A few miles perhaps. Word to the wise and in fear of sounding obvious, the wall is not like walking on a track. It is up and down the mountain surface. Some parts of it are absolutely grueling. I was taking off layers of clothing as we walked because I was sweating like crazy.

The Great Wall was built as protection from the enemy and with that, the walking surface is a bit crazy. Some parts are solid, flat stones and other area are stairs. Some of the stairs are tiny (2-3″ high) and other stairs are so big that I had to turn backwards and go down them like a ladder! This is the part they don’t tell you on the History Channel! The photos below can give you an idea of how steep parts are.

travel to china

But for every odd step, steep hill, and tourist dodge (that actually wasn’t too bad) – there is a spectacular viewing point and a moment that leaves you speechless as you take in the aura of this magnificent structure!

travel to china

You might think that the fun is over as you’re walking the wall, but if you take the toboggan down the mountain – you’re in for a fun ride! Altogether it takes about 7 minutes to ride down and it is so exciting. You get into the cart – I was by myself – and head off on the metal tubing. You do have a handbrake so you are in control of the speed. I absolutely loved it. I’ll link the video here after the photos, but beware that it’s shaky and a long clip, but it will give you an idea of what it was like!

travel to china

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMw1R1bZ6fo[/embedyt]

Looking back upon the entire trip to China, the day spent at the Great Wall is an obvious top highlight. I considered it an honor to take in this piece of history in person, something that most don’t get to do in a lifetime. Doing such a landmark with a Ker & Downey private guide instead of in a large tour group was special, too. I needed the 90 minute drive back to Beijing to get my wits about me again!

Upon arriving back at the Peninsula Beijing, Michelle and I were EXHAUSTED! We ordered room service and hit the sack. Our call time the next morning was early as we had a flight to catch for the next leg of our adventure. I can’t wait to share it with you in an upcoming post!

 

 

Gymboree Sale On Now!

Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetable Soup

Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetable Soup

It’s a known fact that I’m the coldest-natured person on earth. If there was an actual contest for the honor, I have no doubt that I would win it. So when the temperatures in Houston dip below 60-degrees, you can find me wrapped up in 4 layers of clothing sitting on my heated seats or by the fireplace. I don’t do cold. Last night, the weatherman said that our temps would dip into the 20’s. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen that in the 11ish years that I’ve been a Texan. While most were out wrapping water pipes and covering palm trees, I made a quick, easy and delicious vegetable soup. I make this quite a bit and although it is lackluster on the fancy part, it’s big on taste!

quick, easy and delicious vegetable soupSTEPHANIE’S EASY VEGETABLE SOUP

2 cans corn
2 cans peas/carrots mix
2 cans green beans
2 cans diced potatoes
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used one can that also had added chilies)
1 small can tomato paste
1 lb ground beef
1/2 white onion
2 T minced garlic
2 bay leaves
Italian blend spices
Ground black pepper
Ground thyme

I make my soup in one pan – it’s up to you, but it can all be done in one stockpot. The less I have to wash, the better!

I started the process by sauteing the onion and garlic until the onion was clear and a bit softer, then added the ground beef. Once cooked, drain the beef of any extra grease, and put back into the stockpot.

The hard part is over at this point, drain and add all canned veggies! Mix and combine.

To that, add the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste. The cans will still have tomato residue in them, so use the cans to add water. This gets all the tomato flavor from them & helps to add that pretty red color. Water should cover all the veggies and about 1/2″ more so that it’s actually “soup”.

Finally add the bay leaves, ground pepper and Italian seasoning blend to taste. I think the spices really add to it, so I have a heavier hand than some!

Heat the soup until just before boiling – stir every bit or so just to blend the flavors. Add crackers, shredded cheese, whatever you like to your bowl, and enjoy!

 

 

 

quick, easy and delicious vegetable soup

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9/11 Museum Visit

9/11 Museum Visit

9/11 Museum Visit

In July, I took Piper to New York for a week of dance. It was her first trip to the city and I really looked forward to seeing her experience everything that NYC has to offer. On our first full day, we ventured to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I don’t think either of us expected that this day would have such an emotional affect on us.

It’s easy to say where you were when the tragedy of 9/11 happened. It will forever be etched in our minds, much like the assassination of JFK is for our parents. I didn’t know anyone personally affected or that lost a loved one on 9/11, so it has been easy for me to simply pay respect to the day each year and move forward without an attachment.

One visit to the 9/11 museum has changed me. I’ll admit, embarrassingly, that museums are not my thing. I find them interesting, sure … but to spend an entire day at a museum is not on my list of things to do. Or on Piper’s list for that matter. (My husband and son are the complete opposite!) Piper and I entered the museum and thought we would just do a walk through. We could not get enough … and stayed until the afternoon.

For me, as an adult that vividly remembers the day of September 11, 2001, I can go right back to that time in my life. But, for Piper, who wasn’t even born, it was new. The fact that a group of people did this on purpose was baffling in her mind. She read every sign, every plate, looked at every piece of scrap – trying to make sense of it all.

9/11 Museum Visit

We spent most of our time in the hall where the museum features photos of every person that lost their life on 9/11. There are some interactive boards that allow you to find out more about the individual and even a small glimpse into how they came into the path of tragedy on that day. Putting names with faces and stories was absolutely heart wrenching. It seemed unfair to not click on every photo to learn more. As a mom, I wanted to hear everyone’s story – almost like it paid a form of respect to their families.

So many young lives. So many beautiful stories. So many accolades and tremendous accomplishments. Our country lost a lot of remarkable people.

There was also an area where you could hear audio recordings from first responders and people who were in the towers during the attacks. You heard first hand their stories of how they attempted to save people, or how they tried to escape, and what they saw. There is also so much in the way of memorabilia from the day. Fire trucks, the door of an airplane, bent steel from where a plane entered one of the towers. To see it in person is just mind-blowing. The heat of the flames, the force of entry, the magnitude of the loss is impossible to put into words.

9/11 Museum Visit

Piper is a very happy soul. She’s a people-lover and does a tremendous job of seeing the good in everyone. Going through the museum with her, explaining some of the things she was reading, and watching as we got further into the story and knowing that she was understanding the concept of terrorism crushed my soul. I have always tried to shield my kids, and probably moreso Piper, from the meanness of the world. But, there’s no shielding or fluffing up of what happened on September 11. She left heavy and so did I.

After we left the museum, we went to lunch and it was hard to find words for what we had seen. Like so many places in the world, you really need to see it for yourself. Your life and your outlook on so many things will change with just one visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Allow yourself the time to really take it in and do it justice, for yourself and for the families of those who lost their lives.

 

Picniic Review – Family Calendar Sharing

Picniic Review – Family Calendar Sharing

For many years, our family has used a shared calendar that was web and app-based. Our schedules with work and kids rivals any family that I’ve ever seen. We must have a product that is easy to use, available on desktop, tablet, and mobile (app). A quick search introduced me to Picniic.

My essentials in looking for a shared calendar are:

  • Easy to use
  • Color-coded for each family member
  • Still in active development (I want a product that will continue to be updated)
  • Push notifications for reminders

picniic, shared family calendar

Picniic is a next-generation family organizer built with the goal of being the ‘operating system for the family home.’ It serves as a family management dashboard that brings all your activities, tasks and data together in one place, keeping everyone organized and on the same page.

In a nutshell, Picniic has a shared calendar (every family member has their own color); a family locator tool (think “Find My iPhone”); a meal planner, a to-do list, a shopping list, special event calendar (which syncs birthdays and anniversaries onto the shared calendar), and a family info locker where you can store key information like your medical details and other household information.

picniic

We have now successfully moved all of our family to Picniic and I’m very happy using it. It’s nice for all of us to have the latest updates – for every member of the family – right in the palm of our hands! No more “Mom, can I have a sleepover on Friday night? Am I busy?” My response is always the same – “Check Picniic!”

I admit that I often struggle with meal planning because it’s such a hassle. The Picniic app is loaded with recipes that are awesome. Type in an ingredient or a common recipe and it pops right up in the palm of your hand. The best part – one simple click at the bottom of the recipe and you can add all of the ingredients to your shopping list! As if that wasn’t good enough, you can also add your own personal or family recipes into the recipe binder. That is super helpful and actually makes it more of a reality that I will meal plan, and come home with every ingredient needed from the grocery store!

Picniic is free to use online or via app, but their are portions that are available by subscription. (I paid $50 for a year.) My suggestion is that you download the free version and use it for a few weeks and see what you think. I used it regularly for nearly a month and was sold!

I am not a Picniic affiliate, but I do love this product.