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What’chya Eatin’ Wednesday

One of the things my readers respond to most are my posts about food! Every Wednesday I ask my friends, what’chya eatin? The results do not disappoint.

One of my easy favorite go to recipes in the summer is corn on the cob. We especially love it on the grill. Grilled street corn is a favorite for my husband and me. I bring it out all summer long as an easy week night side dish. I know everyone hates having to scroll through a long story about a recipe before getting to the actual recipe, so I won’t keep you! Just comment below if you give this recipe a try!

MEXICAN STREET CORN

Ingredients:

4 ears of corn

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Shaker parmesan cheese

1 lime (for zest and cut into wedges)

*optional* Cilantro

Begin by grilling your corn on the grill. We clean the husk and the silk form the corn and place it directly on the grill. Turn it to a new side every few minutes for a total of about 15 minutes.

While the corn is grilling, it’s time to mix the creamy topping. Zest the lime into a bowl, add in mayo, chipotle, garlic and paprika. Set aside.

Once your corn is finished on the grill, let it sit until cool enough to touch. You can also use cob holders in the end of the corn to make it easier to hold and turn while topping. Slice the lime into wedges and rub one lime wedge on each ear of corn. Then brush the corn with the seasoned mixture of mayo and top with grated cheese. That’s it!

This makes an easy side dish for adults and kids to enjoy. But if you have a picky eater kid (like mine) skip the mayo and slather the corn in butter, top with salt and parm cheese and it’s good to go.

Have you ever had corn this delicious?

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Meet a Mom and the Owner of Olive & Elm Crafts

Meet my friend Kelly Fears! Not only is she a mother and business owner, but she also donates her time to supporting other moms. She runs a support group for moms surviving infant loss and a group dedicated to helping other moms run a businesses.

Kelly started her own business making customizable gifts, shirts, tumblers, totes and more, as a way to express her creativity while staying home with her two adorable children. She built her business from scratch and is dedicated to helping other small mom run businesses succeed.

How did you come up with the name for your business? Olive & Elm is a mash up of all my children’s’ names. My twin daughters Ellie & Emma past away on their due date, and I really wanted to make sure all my children were included in the name.

What types of products do you offer through Olive & Elm? Signs, Gifts, Décor, Shirts, Tumblers & more. I also co-admin a local, small business mamas group on Facebook. I put several hours in each week curating content to help small business mamas navigate being a mom & running a small businesses.

Where are you located? I have two locations, one in Dutchess County NY an one in Saratoga County, NY.

Describe your business mission: I create customized items people need with a personalized touch, and offer them the experience to talk to the creator of their products.

How do you relate to The Whatever Mom Philosophy? Honestly, since reading your blog it has helped me to let go of the imperfections that I felt were a character flaw and my failures as a mom/wife etc. So, Identify with your struggles and the reminders to sometimes just say “Whatever” and embrace the messiness.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I also run a support group for moms who have lost mono/mono twins. I started the group in early 2014 after my mono/mono twin loss. It is an extremely rare and extremely high risk pregnancy survival rate, at best it’s about 50%. It was hard to find groups that understood the rare nature, the high risk and then the loss. I created the group in hopes of connecting families who have walked the same path as we did for support and understanding.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think I’m fairly funny and easy going despite having gone through some of the darkest pain most parents could ever imagine. And, I love owning my small business. I try to help other moms find the in’s and outs of owning a small business as well.

Where can moms find you? Olive & Elm Crafts Facebook Instagram and TikTok.

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What is Going Right During this Pandemic?

Several weeks ago, I asked the moms in my Whatever Mom Circle private group what is working for them during quarantine. What is something positive they are gaining from this time at home? Almost everyone said, slowing down has made a big difference in how they feel.

Normally, as moms, we are rushing from one drop off to another, running errands and racing through our day in a blur. Now that we are home more, that hectic pace has shifted. Yes, we are now handling more educational tasks than before, but there is less pressure to get everyone out of the door by a certain time. Most of us are letting the kids sleep in a little longer. It is sad our favorite activities are on hold, but it’s also nice to not have to crack the whip to get through dinner on time for soccer practice.

What else is going right?

Well, I for one feel less anxious about sending my kids off each day into the unknown. Will they be bullied today? Will they be afraid during a lockdown drill and I won’t be there to comfort them? Will they eat their full lunch today? Will they feel ill and sit in the nurses office? Now that we are home together all day, I don’t have to worry so much.

Then there is not having to pack lunches! Shout out to the gods above because I HATE packing two lunches every night. Lunch planning is the bane of my school year! I count down to every Friday because the cafeteria serves pizza. The one school food my kids willingly eat. God bless the lunch ladies! I haven’t met them, but I hold each of them in my heart.

My kids are connecting more with each other. The hectic pace of the school day, shuffling from one classroom to the next and using manners seems to wear them out entirely. This leaves very little patience for one another. As soon as they return home it is non-stop bickering and arguing. They still argue in quarantine, but they are a bit more patient and more accepting of each other in their respective spaces.

Overall, this pandemic at home thing is not ideal. It’s not my favorite experience. But, I am grateful my kids are home with me where I know they are safe. I like that we can slow down and we have less obligations on the calendar. I like that we are eating better. I like that we are using our local farms more, have more time to grow things and my kids are learning life skills.

Plus, there is a lot more wine in the house lately. Perhaps one silver lining to this pandemic.

What is working for you during this pandemic?

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Meet a Mom Monday

This post kicks off my new weekly series, Meet a Mom Monday! I thought it might be a fun way to introduce some moms already in The Whatever Mom community. I put out a call to moms already following along to introduce themselves and tell us more about how they are making a difference within their communities alongside being a mom. It’s easy to lose ourselves in motherhood, especially in those really early years. It’s hard to remember that life will get a little easier and there will be more time for ourselves. I hope the amazing women you are about to meet will inspire you to keep your own dreams alive! I know they inspire me. So, without further ado, meet Nakeyia!

Nakeyia Jones is an author and owner of Uniquely Purposed, LLC a publishing company focusing on children’s books and novels. She has authored children’s books, family devotionals and a recent novella of her own. Her first book, Super Spots shares the story of a young girl living with a skin condition known as Vitiligo, a condition Nakeyia herself lives with. Her hope is to inspire others living with this condition and to raise awareness and acceptance.

Describe your mission: To inspire children to embrace their differences and those of others. I want to reach moms of twins, children with special needs and rare diseases and adults that want a little suspense out of a book.

How many children do you have? Two children and one grandchild.

How do you relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We are not given a handbook on how to raise our children. The Whatever Mom helps us all to know we are human, will make mistakes and we are not alone on the parenting journey.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am passionate about the future of young people and it’s my calling in life to help them find purpose and keep them motivated.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I raised a hyper-active child successfully, that is my super power!

Where can other moms find you? I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Virtual Activities to Keep Your Kids Feeling Social

I know moms miss having the kids in school right now, for obvious reasons. There’s no time to work and teach and there is no time to work and teach and cook a million times a day.

Not being in school is incredibly hard on the kids too. Especially the kids who really love going to school each day to see their friends. My kids are social creatures and look forward to conversations with their bus drivers, their teachers, school staff and friends every day in school. There just aren’t as many people to talk to at home. So, we have to get a little creative with how we participate in our friendships from home.

Thank goodness for technology! We use Zoom and Google Meets to keep in touch with teachers and classmates and to have individual virtual play dates. My kids are young so they still like to play on play dates. Here is what they’ve loved so far:

Bake Some Treats – pick a recipe you both have ingredients for (we chose chocolate chip cookies). Follow the steps together and show off your progress. Kids can keep the conversation going while they are waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Once the cookies are cool enough to eat, it’s time for both friends on either side of the screen to grab some milk and get to dunking. There is something so comforting in sharing fresh warm cookies and chatting with a friend.

Play games – There is a whiteboard feature on the Zoom screen. Kids can use this to play tic tac toe, hangman, Pictionary or share the screen to take turns completing a drawing project. This one is so much fun because both kids can participate and no one needs to rummage for the same game pieces.

Watch funny videos together – Zoom and Google Meets allows you to share the screen so you can load up some funny pet videos from the Internet, or share a movie experience together. Everyone can grab their own snacks before they sign on and pick a video or movie to watch together.

Build things – If your kid loves to build with Legos, Blocks or magnetic tiles, or scraps of recycled materials, they will love building something along side a buddy to show off when complete. Kids absolutely love show and tell and sharing their creations.

Get artsy – my kids love to paint or draw or make their own books. Grab all the supplies you need, log on and let the kids brainstorm their own themes and get to work. This is a great way for kids to share in the creative process together while socializing.

Read together – it can be hard to encourage kids to read outside of classwork and school time. But if they have a reading buddy it makes it more fun and feels less like work. Have your child grab a favorite book to read to their friend (and their friend’s pet if they have one). They can chat together in the end about the books, or just about life and connect.

Host a virtual sleep over – we haven’t tried this one yet, but it is on our list! No need to leave your kid logged in all night (mine would never go to bed!). Just hop into some comfy pajamas and get ready to eat some snacks and play some games! You can throw in homemade facials, or chit chat while painting nails. Maybe watch some videos together or make your own silly videos to capture the memory of this really unique slumber party.

Even with the use of technology, it can be hard not seeing people up close and personal. So, we’ve had a few creative socially distant get togethers too. One morning we called our friends and told them meet us outside. We drove to our their houses with music blasting and had a dance party in our car while they were in their yard. We’ve dropped off surprise gifts and we’ve had friends do walk-bys and stand at the end of driveway to offer hellos and air hugs. Just parking 6 feet apart with our cars side by side so the kids can talk across the divide does wonders for their social emotional health.

Now that spring is here and we can be outside, it doesn’t mean we are ready to rush getting together. We still need to keep our socially safe distance apart to keep everyone healthy. We can’t participate in our friendships and socialize the same way as before, but with a little bit of creativity, we can find some new ways to stay together even while we are apart.

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Being The Mom During COVID-19

It sucks.

Don’t get it twisted that I don’t love my kids and appreciate the extra time we are spending together, because I do. I love my kids more than anything and I am kind of happy to be home with them. It isn’t perfect, but we are together and that’s the only place I’d rather be right now. But… being THE MOM through all of this is a royal pain in the arse.

In my household, nothing gets done with out my planning and prep work. Literally nothing. I’m not down playing my husbands efforts, he is the main bread winner and without him we wouldn’t have a roof over our heads. I do appreciate his hard work, but that’s mostly what he is doing 98% of the time. Working for someone else. He pitches in with laundry and dishes and mows the yard and takes out the trash when asked, but the kids schedules, home improvements, vacations, appointments, meal plans, shopping, holidays, doctors, emergency room visits, middle of the night kid anxiety, that’s all me. Before this lockdown, I was already tired and missing out on my own essential self-care. But during lockdown? I wonder if I even exist most days.

I mean obviously, I do exist. In the same way Cinderella exists. Overworked and unnoticed.

As soon as my alarm goes off, my feet hit the floor and take me out to the kitchen to make the kids breakfast. I sling their fresh made pancakes in their direction while they rub the sleep out of their eyes in front of the TV. I take five minutes to get dressed for the day before settling each kid in front of their respective lap tops to log into their online classrooms. Then I spend the next half of the day bouncing between both kids playing tech support resetting WI-FI and helping them with writing assignments. We break for a quick PBJ before we do it all again for the next two hours.

Besides my new career in tech support, I’ve become a virtual assistant scheduling their online classroom meet ups and virtual play dates. So far, my kids have a better social life in quarantine than I do. Tuesday’s one kid bakes cookies, or paints online with a friend. On Thursdays the other kid meets online with a friend to play Minecraft. I stare longingly at the people walking by my house and wonder how weird would it be if I whipped open my front door to yell, “hello, hello, hellooo!!!”

The six hour work day I had before, is now filled with non-stop caretaking and managing other people’s needs. Yes, before the virus I was doing this too, except I was limited to only a few set hours each evening. There were only 4 or 5 hours of the day I was taking care of other people, cooking and cleaning and organizing take out to get out of cooking. Now, I’m on duty from sun up to sun down. And it is exhausting. The last time I was this exhausted, my kids were toddlers waking through the night.

It’s hard being THE MOM during the life and times of COVID-19. All I really want is a little mental space. A little time to do something more than brokering my kids social life and meticulously planning a two week grocery haul so I can avoid being in public.

I miss public.

I had some of my best times there. Talking. Chatting. Laughing. Taking a walk untethered from complaining children who never seem to be happy with anything I do.

For now, I will steal away the even smaller moments in the day to unplug from the motherhood grind. I will give myself grace when I’ve failed to put myself first. I will remain grateful for this time with my family. And I will give myself permission to admit that some days, it just sucks to be THE MOM.

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Spring Cleaning During a Pandemic? Leave it to the Professionals!

This post contains sponsored content.

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed by the thought of yard work and exterior home clean up? Between crisis schooling the kids, cooking every meal, sanitizing protocols and working from home I am so exhausted. I am ready for a nap by 2:30 p.m. every day! By Saturday, the last thing I want to do is spend hours on yard clean up and power washing the deck. I feel like as a family we work hard during the week on school assignments, cleaning and chores that I feel guilty doing more work on the weekends.   

As my husband and I made our list of springtime chores, we realize at our current pace and weather patterns, we are so behind. Even when we include our kids in the work, it takes us triple the time to get it done. So, now we are working through the week and on the weekends checking off our springtime cleaning tasks. I am a firm believer that professional help is worth every penny especially when it saves my sanity! So, I want to share with you a family run business out of Clifton Park, NY that I recently discovered, E&J Cleaning and Floors.

Call / Text For Your Free Estimate Today 518-419-4683

Hiring professionals during this COVID crisis can feel uneasy. We want to make sure they are following safety protocols and social distancing practices. Thankfully, E&J Cleaning and Floors has adapted to create a no contact service call to help knock those big cleaning tasks off your list and free up your time. They offer power washing for your siding, deck, fences, driveways, patios, etc., and window washing. All these services can take place at a distance on the exterior of your home, and can be arranged via email, phone or text. Estimates are free and payment handled over the phone before work is completed. That means no face to face, no hand shaking and no pen sharing. This is perfect for families overwhelmed by working, educating and isolating at home, or older homeowners who need the extra help. And, getting these chores taken care of safely will be a huge relief.

Photo credit: E&J Cleaning and Floors

You can visit their website for details and to see before and after photos of all their individual cleaning projects on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Speaking of the details, I notice they also clean home interiors and are providing a unique sanitizing system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help businesses and homes safeguard against the COVID-19 virus, they are using a special Electrostatic Disinfection technique. The technique includes using a designated applicator that administers a negative charge to the EPA approved cleaning solution as it applies an even coating of the solution onto surfaces and into hard to reach places. The E&J Cleaning crew is already using the system inside campers and offices and adapting for residential use. Staff will arrive wearing masks and gloves and keeping a distance from anyone in the house. This service sounds ideal for homes of essential workers who may be worried about exposing their families to the COVID-19 virus, doctors’ offices, families who may be more vulnerable to contracting the virus, etc. I did some quick research and find that it is most effective after a deep clean of your home. E&J Cleaning and Floors also offers in-home deep cleaning and sanitizing those high-touch surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs and handrails.

As a local, small business E&J Cleaning and Floors is ready to serve the greater Capital District area of NY with dedicated and individualized service that includes keeping your health and safety in mind. You can also grab a gift certificate for a cleaning to use when this stay at home life is over. If your house is anything like mine, after four humans living here 24/7 for two months it is probably screaming DEEP CLEAN right about now. (Ahem, Mother’s Day is in 11 days! And nothing says thank you like giving mom the day off from any chore!).

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Earth Day Coloring Contest!

Happy 50th Earth Day!

Today is the 50th celebration of Earth Day and on a personal note, it is my 30th celebration. I began celebrating as a high school student when I joined the Student Environmental Action Committee (SEAC). Every Earth Day we hosted a campus wide cleanup of the school grounds and planted trees. During the year we wrote letters to our state representatives asking them to consider funding recycling programs, and we wrote letters to large corporations asking them to stop testing on animals. And right in our own school we worked with our administrators to amplify our recycling efforts and limit the amount of waste we generated as a school community. It was my first lesson in creating change right in my community. I can’t remember if any of our larger efforts outside of our school made direct changes, but I do believe that all of our collective efforts helped power the eco-friendly movement. Thirty years later, I am so excited to share with my own family how to reduce, reuse and recycle what we have. We do our best each day to keep our planet and living creatures healthy, from recycling to pitching single use plastics from our home, we make sure to put thought into our impact on the environment.

This week, my daughter designed an Earth Day poster to share with her class. I shared her design with my friend Kelly at Olive & Elm Crafts who generously jumped on board with an Earth Day coloring contest! Use THIS LINK to find the FREE Earth Day Turtle coloring page. Let your kiddo color it and snap a pic to share on Olive & Elm’s Facebook post announcing the contest. We will pick a winner next week to receive a FREE reusable tote bag with their artwork on it! This is our fun way of celebrating the day with all of you!

* * * Now for the awareness part! * * *

Read on to learn more about small changes your family can make at home for a big impact!

Making eco-friendly changes can feel overwhelming when you aren’t sure where to start. The key is to make changes that your family is most likely to stick to and not give up on. We are so reliant on convenience, but there are plenty of swap outs you can make that are still convenient (and affordable) for a busy family. I always tell families to start with just one simple change and once you have that down pat, look for another. Every bit helps and the more families making small changes, the bigger the long-term effect!

Here are some simple changes families can make to help keep the planet healthy!

  1. Swap out your paper napkins for cloth. This might sound like more laundry, but it really isn’t. I toss our cloth napkins right in with the weekly load of kitchen towels. I am just pitching them into laundry I am already doing, so no extra step. I found our cloth napkins at thrift stores for near pennies!
  2. Recycle properly. I have learned over the years that not all plastics are created equal and many of us just toss all our plastic items into the bin assuming it will be recycled. The term for that is, “wish cycling.” The truth is, not all plastics are accepted in every town. Go to your town’s website and search for a listing of acceptable items. Hang the list on your fridge so everyone in your family can refer to it. Try to avoid buying plastics or other materials that are not recycled in your area.
  3. Pitch the plastic water bottles and sippy cups. Switching to stainless steal is a much healthier alternative. Not only are plastic bottles plaguing our waterways, but we can ingest microplastics and plasticizers (chemicals in plastics). We fill up our stainless bottles and leave in the fridge for a grab and go cold drink during the day and I send them along in the school lunches.
  4. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes instead of using plastic. Did you know every single toothbrush ever manufactured is still living in a landfill or floating in our oceans? It takes hundreds of years for the plastic to bio-degrade. Bamboo is compostable and biodegradable. Plus, it is antimicrobial which stays cleaner than plastic. These brushes are quickly becoming more affordable and only need to be replaced every 6 months.
  5. Reduce convenience packaging. Everything about modern parenting is created with convenience in mind from travel pouches and storage bags to plastic to-go cups that transport easily in the car. We will buy bulk sized snacks (or make our own) and store in reusable containers like mason jars or a soup Thermos for every day snack options and leave the convenience packages for long trips.

I could keep the list going. Every year my family and I take on one new eco-friendly habit to change. The ones listed above are the easiest and most affordable changes for families to make.

What is one change your family is planning to make in honor of Earth Day?

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Picky Eater Solutions: How to Minimize the Fight

Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.

I like this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe from My Fussy Eater.

2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.

My picky eaters don’t even notice the spinach in these Secret Ingredient Pistachio Muffins from Making Thyme for Health.

3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.

Related post: Moms to Kids Everywhere, Make Your Own Damned Sandwiches

4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.

We make this Dublin Coddle for St. Patrick’s Day from Fit Slow Cooker Queen. My kids just pick out the parts they will eat.

5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.

Learn More at Anxious Toddler.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you plan for meals?

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My Favorite Turmeric Tea For Immune Health

A couple of weeks ago I posted on Instagram how I upped my adulting level to drinking Tumeric tea. I was shocked by how many questions I received asking why I drink it and how do I make it.

Well, to tell the truth, drinking tea is one of the ways I make time for self care. The act of making tea kind of slows me down and gives me a moment to pause. Once I pour the hot water into the cup, I hold the warm cup in my hands to soak up the heat. (My hands are continuously frozen from October through May).

I started adding turmeric to my favorite lemon, ginger tea to help tame the inflammation from my arthritis. Getting through the winter in the North East is tough. But, this has truly helped me keep up with my kids hectic pace. Turmeric also gives the immune system a boost. Pairing it with the Vitamin C in the lemon and combining with the health benefits of ginger makes for one tasty, healing tea. I add just enough honey to balance out the spiciness of the turmeric.

There are all kinds of recipes you can find that uses whole fresh ginger root that you peel and slice, then you add a squeeze of fresh lemon…but I don’t have time for that in my day. I use my favorite brand of bagged tea and add in 1/8 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of honey. Easy peasy without the lemon squeezy.

I still love my coffee to get me going in the morning, but I love a warm cup of slow sipping tea a few times of the day to slow me down and keep me feeling connected.

How about you? Are you a tea drinker?

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