About Julie Ann Dinneweth

Actor. Spokesperson. Host. Voice Actor. Singer. Lifestyle Model. + super fun, dramatic, adventurous, excited, silly, freaked out, but most of all just really cool...

Shopping local – It may not be life changing for you, but it is for them.

So I just got back from visiting my San Marco shops. San Marco is an area of Jacksonville, Florida that has a small town vibe. The streets are lined with locally owned businesses, from gift and apparel boutiques to fine food and drink establishments. Some of these businesses have been in operation for 30+ years! I was chatting with one of the shop owners and we were discussing the nature of the industry. Covid seems to have put sales to a halt in most places, not to mention we are transitioning from Summer into Fall. Summer is usually slower, with everyone going on vacation, spending time with their kids and such, but summer of 2020 took the cake. It’s possibly picked up a little since a portion of our school age kids are back in school, but taking our normal reality into account and topping it off with Covid has surely made a difference. 

I’ve had similar discussions with many of my shop owners because everyone is going through the same drought. Anytime there is an election year there is a stigma that retail slows down. Well not only do we have to deal with the repercussions of Covid, but it’s also an election year! My discussion today was a little different and I think it needs to be noted especially for our upcoming generations.

First, our buying patterns have changed. The transition to shopping online has increased and the types of things we are buying now are changing. With the set up of virtual home offices and student work spaces, office essentials have been a huge necessity and most big box stores have had a significant surge due to the heavy buying of products such as printers and tablets. Since this virus started at the end of the school year, people are focusing more on “stay-cations” instead of traveling. This means boat sales and other activity driven purchases have had a surge. This also means that our normal pit stops for gifts and clothing have seen even less business than they normally would have in this heatwave. There are less birthday parties, weddings, and social gatherings in general so less gifts to buy. Some of these things have been postponed and some have just been cancelled.

Second, our independent retailers have had to adapt to getting more “social.” Many of these retailers have had to learn the ins and outs of social media and e-commerce in a heartbeat and they have adapted well to the changes. Many find it too overwhelming and have such a loyal customer base that they continue to depend on. Those that have adapted and grown will rise to the top because they have their loyal customer base, but have reached a new audience that will continue to benefit them when things normalize again. The millennial generation is a huge portion of this audience, and the target demographic that they need to reach in order to build back up again.

Finally, if online shopping wasn’t a competitor before, it certainly is now and this is making it even harder for the shops and restaurants in our community to make it. We can get store bought meals and groceries delivered to our doors and we can order anything else we are looking for online in a pinch. One thing that I’ve heard and have noticed from experience is if you actually take the time to look at your local boutique’s Facebook page or website, you’ll get your order faster from them than shopping on Amazon. Many stores and restaurants are doing local delivery, so why not give them the business instead? They feed their families this way and in turn they give back to your local economy. Many smaller apparel stores are allowing try on in their dressing rooms and have put extra cleaning practices into place to make it safe for you. I guarantee these stores aren’t very busy and you’re likely to be 10 feet away from any other individual that might be shopping. Also, why not help the environment a little. When you get a shipment, there are so many times that the packaging is so wasteful, not to mention pollution coming from these big delivery trucks. 

There is so much more that can be discussed, but I want you to take away the main point in this nutshell of a post. If you haven’t started, please support your local businesses and if you have started, please continue to do so! They offer personalized shopping experiences and more advice than a standard Amazon review. They bring products into their stores that are quality driven and unique and they spend countless hours doing this just for you! Many stores have gone into savings to stay afloat, some have closed, and some don’t know how long they can hold on.  Some haven’t been able to get any financial assistance, while many bigger corporations have received hundreds and thousands of dollars. 

For those who are shopping and have the income to support extra purchases, I hope you’ll take shopping local into consideration the next time you open up your browser to search for something. Support your friends and neighbors who have exactly what you need instead of buying from big box or big e-commerce. I guarantee they won’t notice the difference but you know who will! 

 

Let That $h!t Go

So much to do, so little time. That saying is so true and I know we all feel it. Summer has faded into Fall, despite what the temperature may feel like in your area. Here in Jacksonville it’s still hot as a mother (oh wait, I’m a mother! Ha, I am too kind!). Since my job revolves around looking forward and sharing new trends, it makes time go by way too fast. It’s October already and the Christmas scented candles are already selling like crazy! My daughter is about to be 16 months old and with every milestone I feel like she is getting closer and closer to having her own family. Ok, that may be a bit far off, but still time flies.

My goal every day and my prayer every night is that we live in the moment. Of course I pray for a bright and healthy future for us and our world, but the moments are so much more dear. I get caught up in what could be and what will be that I tend to forget about the present. I forget that my squirmy little girl’s tantrums are something to absolutely adore because she is living loud and feeling and learning and growing. I forget that my car breaking down gives me a chance to practice patience and not be all “woe is me.” It’s the universe giving me a lesson in basic math by problem solving and figuring out a work around for my life. I let my reflexive thoughts get the best of me when something doesn’t go the way I planned instead of being thoughtful and selfless. I forget that the future just might not be.

What I notice around me is that most other people do the same thing. The more social our network is, we see more people in our network suffering. Suffering from depression, health complications, grief, anxiety, being over worked, lonely, too busy or too social and putting important things aside, or even acting like none of this exists and pretending everything is perfection. I also notice that a lot of people just want to laugh to take away some of this suffering.

My husband says I’m addicted to my phone and he’s probably right. I play mindless games when I’m not motivated to read at night or get extra work done or blog like I am now. I check my email constantly. I scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn just to see what everyone’s up to and to make sure I’m not missing out – on what? What could I possibly be missing out on that’s not right here in front of me?

You want to know what would take away some of the suffering? Self care. Whether it be talking to a therapist or life coach or following your own advice that you often give to others. Maybe, going for a drive and stopping in somewhere you haven’t been for a cup of coffee. How about closing your eyes and breathing in and out deeply for just 5 minutes? Giving someone a compliment or even a hug – chances are you both need it. Take some time for yourself and give your time to others, most importantly your close friends and family. We are given a very brief time on this earth.

Its so hard to be thoughtful about each moment because our lives are happening and we are constantly being interrupted by one thing or another. It’s up to us to shut those interruptions out and not let them get in the way of what is important. Shut the door in interruption’s face and don’t feel bad about it. Interruption does have a way of pulling you towards it so make a conscious effort to go the other way and use your energy for the good of your life instead. We have so many things in our lives that we don’t need and they add zero value. It’s like Marie Kondo says in her book the life-changing magic of tidying up, “does it bring you joy?”

Apply that same thought to non- material things that surround you. Anything that doesn’t bring you joy, let that $h!t go.

Can you pick five things off of the top of your head that you know you would be better off letting go? I can think of more than that.

High Fives and Hello’s

Milestones. I call every single new thing my baby does a “milestone.” Most recently she says “Hi” and “uh-oh” all the time and loves to give high fives. I am so amazed by the smallest things and obviously I think shes the absolute smartest baby in the world!

Motherhood is so funny at times, especially when I’m having an out of body experience and watching myself react to all of the different ways she’s growing. Its wonderful and hilarious to see the things my husband and I will do just to get a smirk or a little laughter from our tiny human.

Now that she is nearing the 1 year mark I don’t even know what feelings the next milestones will invoke. I mean I know she’ll be walking and talking soon and creating great big huge milestones, but I have a feeling they won’t feel quite as big or important as the first giggle, the first time she rolled to her tummy, or the first time she signed for milk. Though, they will be much bigger and more important because she won’t be attached to me anymore. She just started to realize in the last few months that we are in fact, not physically attached. I don’t know if either of us can take it sometimes!

She’ll start walking and talking and the years will fly by and she’ll go on her very first date! She’ll get her drivers license and I know I’ll worry more then than I do now while she’s completely under my watchful wing. The milestones are what I look forward to, but they are also what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid as the milestones get easier for her and start happening closer together that they’ll just get that much harder for me.

Motherhood is one of the best things that ever happened to me and from the very beginning it’s been the toughest. I’ve never felt the need to protect, to love, to give to any human as much as I feel the need now. What’s funny is I feel the need to love and protect and give more to myself now too. I know my daughter needs a strong, healthy, giving, caring, and smart mother to look up to and I want to be exactly that. Since I’m afraid of all of the milestones she’ll experience while growing up, I must grow with her and create my own.

Working on myself and on my goals and creating a vision for the mother I want to be is becoming more of a priority than ever. Maybe my daughter will clap her hands and say “Go Mommy!” when she notices my achievements, haha!

What have been your favorite milestones while watching your child(ren) grow? Please leave a comment below!

Showing Off on Social

My life looks like pure magic lately! It looks like everything is so fabulous lately, and really when I look at the big picture I hate to say it, because I don’t want to make you jealous, but it really is!!  I mean, I get to do soooo many fun things!!!

With that said, I have had some really bad days recently.

We were in a car crash on Easter and have been down to one car for about two weeks now because of several things going on with the insurance and the multiple vehicles involved. No, it wasn’t even our fault!

I am constantly playing catch up with work and I feel like I will never be completely caught up but am doing the best I can. To top that off, my laptop (which I just payed off after 2 years) just crashed. It has my entire life on it I feel like and doesn’t help work a bit. After compiling document after document to become more organized with work, I have no access.

As soon as I think I have it all kind of together my daughter gets sick. Do you know that a 10 month old sick baby girl needs more attention than a fine dining restaurant ridden with rodents? Well, now you do.

My debit card fell into the river after I bolted out of the car to check on my daughter after the crash. We all know how it feels when we have to change cards. You have to connect the dots and figure out everyone who deducts a payment for a bill. Sometimes it’s seriously a mystery and then you get a phone call or an email and ding ding ding, lights on!

Wait, so why do I think my life is so fabulous? Because it is!!! It took me a lot of time, grief, and growing up to realize it. My life is completely unreal and perfectly imperfect. Sometimes something hits me in the face and I impulsively want to scream out, but I make sure to become aware of my emotion and raise my gratitude towards God for my beautiful life. I have the most amazing husband who loves me to no end. I have a beautiful step-daughter who is probably one of the most grown up teenagers I’ve ever met and much much smarter than me. I have a baby girl that is incredible and lights up my life every day. Plus, the amazing family and friends that are near and far away bring so much positivity to my life. That, is what life is all about. The small things are pretty stupid in the grand scheme. It’s time to dumb the dumb things down.

Every time I look out at a crowd I think, “Wow.” Every one of us thinks we’re so important and we each have things and emotions and needs that we think are so important as well. Sometimes, you just have to step back and look at the big picture.

I notice that when I do, I’m nurtured with blessings that I didn’t even know were going to exist. Some of those blessings I share on social and some of them I keep for myself. Xo Julie Ann

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and….

 

Ohhh, you already know that song. Got it. Well here are a few of my favorite things this week (well, that I’m talking about this week. They are actually my favorite things all of the time and I want to share)!

The first one I’m going to talk about is Skinny & Company. I LOVE this brand. It is the only chemical free coconut oil on the market. It is not even comparable to your store bought organic brands (even your Whole Foods approved brands) because it is just that much better. A whopping 19% of the ingredients don’t even have to be listed on the labels of those brands. Do you want diesel fuel going on your skin or into your body? I don’t and that’s why I am a huge proponent of Skinny & Co. and want all of you coconut oil lovers to get on board with it. Not only do they make the cooking oil which has an added digestive enzyme in it, but they also have a beauty segment with balms and cleansers that have essential oils that serve a purpose. For instance the clarifying cleansing balm helps with skin issues like acne while the rejuvenating balm has anti-aging properties. Since this is such a high grade coconut oil your skin soaks it up and you can automatically notice a difference. Trust me and try it by clicking on my link below.

Coconut Oil – 16oz
from: Skinnyandcompany.com

My favorite products are the pure baby, peppermint oil pull, Coconut Oil (for cooking), Rejuvenating cleansing balm, and Lavender deodorant.

 

Next, if you’re expecting (a baby, that is) or still learning the ropes as a new mommy check out the Mellow Mama on youtube. Most of her philosophies on child rearing are right up my alley. I’ve watched her episodes from the beginning but I just recently binged on the ones I missed like the new season of Game of Thrones had just been released. She really embraces everything that being a mother is. She shows her vulnerable side and is strong at the same time. She chooses a path and sticks to it, even if people don’t agree with it.
With my daughter Cosette, I’ve chosen to do some things that I get weird looks for. It doesn’t matter though because I choose to do these things because she’s my only daughter and I only have this one chance to raise her. I want to do it in the smartest way possible. I used to think the only thing I was or am good at is being an actor, but now I know I’m good at being a mom too. I don’t judge anyone and their choices in raising their children. I believe that most of us do the very best we can. I’m not super strict as I believe some things are ok in moderation. I feel that if I were super strict that she would rebel later on. When I am strict, even though she’s only 8 months old, I explain to her why we are making a certain choice whether it has to do with food, trying to play with something that can hurt her, etc…
I want her to want to make healthy choices and good decisions. I believe that the more I teach Coco good values and how to live in a healthy and happy way that it will follow her into adulthood. It’s what I’ve tried to do in my own life before becoming a mom. I can’t change anyone’s opinion by writing it on facebook, I can lead by example and hope that someone learns from it.  The Mellow Mama puts a lot of things into perspective and often I find myself following her lead or thinking about something important that I’ve never taken into consideration. Oh and her real name is Kaitlyn! Follow her on instagram @themellowmama and click here to subscribe to her youtube channel.

Finally, this week I want to mention My Serenity Kids. Click here to check out their website. I learned about this brand of child friendly pouches on the Whole Mama’s podcast. Take a listen to that too if you have the time! Often I buy baby food from the store to keep in the diaper bag or to send with Coco when she’s at daycare or at her Grandparent’s and sometimes when I’m lazy and don’t have the best dinner prepared I’ll give her one too. Lately when I’m in a bind like that I just cut an avocado in half and that’s been the perfect solution. However after learning more about My Serenity Kids, I found that the amount of sugar that are in the baby pouches appropriate for Cosette’s age is unreal! Plus it’s hard to find any pure organic veggies or protien options. You’d expect that it would be easy but it’s not. The only way to give your child a healthy option is to puree it yourself or give her real foods when baby led weaning (which is what we are doing). Here is where My Serenity Kid saves the day. All of their combos are packed with protein, have no additional sugars, and are super baby/kid friendly. They are paleo approved and are the best option when you are in a pinch. They are now available in some Whole Foods markets, but if you go online and get a bundle there is a huge savings. Coco has tried all three flavors and loves them. They are grass fed and pastured meats mixed with organic veggies and healthy fats. Breast milk is the best milk and the most nutrient dense at this point for us (as we are willing and able – I know it’s not an option all of the time), but these are great options. Here is link to their about-us page so you can take a look yourself!

NO DAY BUT TODAY

Yes, the title of this post is taken from a song in one of my favorite musicals RENT! RENT deals with a group of people, who despite their circumstances, rise above so much and realize that every moment counts. It’s about love and loss, moving on and finding out that in order to improve your circumstances you have to adapt to change and fight for what’s right, for those you love, and for yourself.

So much of our fight is inner dialogue that other can’t see on the outside. Lately I’ve been so overwhelmed because I have so much to do. Instead of picking a task and conquering it, I wallow in my own thoughts and get upset because I don’t know what the first step is in tackling a job or making one thing a priority over any other. I mean, I still have my Christmas Tree up and it’s February. I go from “well, ugh-maybe I should just leave it up for the rest of the year,” and all of these other passive aggressive inner thoughts when in reality I just need to stop what I am doing and start removing ornaments!

Last year a friend recommended a time scheduling app called Be Focused. I downloaded it onto my computer and it was a game changer. I used it religiously for a while and then started to get the hang of the timing on my own (or so I thought) so eventually stopped. Well, one tiny little break led to multiple unscheduled breaks and I completely lost my FOCUS! I’ve decided that I better get back on track and start using the app again because I know that it helps me to concentrate on one task at a time. Check it out if you are constantly checking social media at work (unless that is your work), taking a break to play candy crush, or just zoning out!

I find that routine truly helps my stress level and my productivity. I normally navigate through my week trying to multitask. Getting everything done that I need to get done seems nearly impossible. Since I work from home and mostly from my car, I have to adapt to change pretty much daily. I work by appointment so normally I know when I’ll have a break, but I have to be very conscious of what I do during that break so I don’t waste valuable time. I understand, now more than ever, that time is so important because the seconds go by so fast. I was always taught to anticipate other’s needs. Well sister, I have to start anticipating my own needs in order to keep a positive outlook and not become overwhelmed.

This weekend, my plan is to enjoy the time I have with my family, but I am also going to remove some of the chaos from my life by trying to map out a routine for my week to come.

Today, I am taking down the damn Christmas tree!

Being overwhelmed and stressed isn’t good for me, but it isn’t good for anyone around me either. A healthy lifestyle isn’t just about eating healthy foods and being active, it’s mostly about being happy (which those things definitely help in the happy department). I have to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, everything we worry about is so very minute. So if you feel like your life is a shitshow, OWN it or take the steps to IMPROVE it. I think I’ll do both!

17 weeks old – Flashback

I wrote this a long time ago thinking that I’d have so much time to start blogging again. It’s nice to see where we were in comparison to where we are!

[Fade to Flashback]

I’m on a plane right now and am going to try to make the most of my time. It’s not very often that I get an hour or two of complete quiet. There’s no baby to answer to, no work email or calls to respond to (because I’m not paying for WiFi), no appointments to drive to, and no clothes to try to remember to throw into the dryer.

If you don’t follow me on Instagram then you probably don’t know that I had a baby 17 weeks ago. That’s a little over four months for you people that don’t already have children or don’t do math. Seventeen weeks ago my whole world changed. Everyone always said that you don’t completely understand what love is until you have a baby. Truth is, I always understood it, I just wasn’t ready for it. I still don’t know if I’m ready for it. I look at my baby girl and wonder how in the world I am lucky enough to be her mother for the rest of…forever. Some people say that the love you have for your child is greater than any other kind of love. I disagree, it’s just a different kind of love which I’ve wanted to experience since I was a little girl. Having a baby gives you a little glimpse into the way that God feels about each and every one of us.

It’s a love I know I’m ready for because it’s a love that’s changed me for good. I never knew how strong I was until I had a baby. I have a whole new respect for motherhood and my own mother.

And yes, sometimes I don’t know if I’m ready it. I never knew how weak I was until I had a baby. Hearing her cry makes me cry. When she hurts, I hurt. However even through that weakness there is strength because I have to be strong for her.

Four months in and I’ve learned that:

◦ Sleep is a necessity, but only in 10-60 minute increments.

◦ Giving birth is exactly like it is in the movies, but with more tears, convulsing, and shaking.

◦ I will always need my mother.

◦ My husband has seen me at my worst and still adores me. 👏👏👏😍

◦ Part of me is living outside of me. She is an extension of me that I need to nourish just like I nourish my own body and self.

◦ The laundry will never be done and the house will never be clean.

◦ I have the best family and in-laws EVER.

◦ No diaper is too scary.

◦ Breast milk is a precious thing (I learned this the very first time I spilled it after pumping).

◦ No noise is too small to wake me when I’m finally asleep.

◦ I am needed and loved and have a purpose.

This journey has already been wonderful and as they say, the moments go by so fast. I am enjoying every one of them. This past week my daughter has been up at all hours, and every time I pick her up to console her I truly thank God that she is breathing and that I am here for her no matter how tired I am. Some babies aren’t as lucky which is hard for me to even grasp. I’ve never been so grateful.

Cosette Isabela Maszy was born on June 8th of 2018. She weighed in at 4 pounds, 14 ounces! She was two weeks early (full term) but just on the tiny side. She has since tripled her weight and is thriving and beautiful.

As you can probably already tell, FitFabDelish will have a new category because my world now revolves around it. More to come in MomSoHard- reviews, things I’m learning along the way, and maybe some love notes that she can look back on. Haha, we’ll see where it takes me!

You can follow Cosette (or Coco as we like to call her) on Instagram @cosetteisabela .

She’s already a bit of an influencer!

Stay tuned as I definitely always have material now!

Xo FitFabDelish

Push it, push it real good.

I didn’t have the best pregnancy. It’s so interesting how pregnancies differ from woman to woman. My first trimester was filled with 24/7 morning sickness, I craved sweets, and often couldn’t find anything to eat that sounded good and seemed nutritious enough to feed my growing baby. From the very beginning my baby seemed to measure a little small from check up to check up. However, she remained healthy and there wasn’t anything that seemed out of the ordinary. Although, my pregnancy was considered “high-risk” because of my age (37), there wasn’t anything special I had to pay attention to. 

My second trimester was much better compared to the first, even though I had bouts of different symptoms. I started eating a little better, working out when I could and then before I knew it, those feel good sporadic moments ended and I entered my third trimester. 

During the third trimester you start going into check ups weekly with your doctor just to make sure the baby is healthy and growing as she should be. It was at one of these appointments that the doctor raised her eyebrows and noticed that the measurements were smaller than they should be, especially this late in the game. We scheduled a follow up appointment for a sonogram the next week so they could get a more accurate picture. Following that next appointment it was determined that the baby was much smaller than she should be at this stage so I was sent to the high risk doctor. At first they though it was just her belly that seemed small, but the high risk doctor found that she was small in every aspect.

After my visit to the high risk doctor, we decided that it would be better to be induced a couple of weeks early. My pregnancy was considered an IUGR pregnancy (Intrauterine Growth Restriction)…. Basically my placenta wasn’t feeding her enough nutrients in order for her to grow at the rate she needed to. I was originally due on June 20th and we scheduled an induction for June 8th. From what I understand, IUGR can cause major complications, but since it occurred later in my pregnancy there wasn’t as much risk as long as we induced a little early. At 38 weeks, I was still full term. 

On June 7th I went into my schedule appointment and I hadn’t dilated at all at this point. Swollen from head to toe and as uncomfortable as a penguin in the desert, I was more than ready to have this baby. My husband and I checked into the maternity ward around 3:00 p.m. and got settled in for what would be a very long night. As soon as I was given the cervidil to help with dilation I started having more contractions. I always had the worst cramping growing up during my cycle, and this felt like the the worst of those cramps time and time again. Around midnight they gave me some medication to dull the pain so I could try to get some sleep. Getting sleep is hard when someone comes in every 30 minutes to an hour to check on you or get some piece of paperwork signed. 

After what seemed like such a long night I was excited that morning had come because I was anxious and ready. Being so uncomfortable, I was just ready for the next step. My doctor came in around 8 and gave me the lowdown. The nurse had previously checked my cervix and informed us that it didn’t seem like I had dilated at all. The doctor confirmed that I was half a centimeter to 1 centimeter, if that. She said that she’d try to see if there was a chance she could break my water but made sure that I knew it was a slight chance, given where my body was at in the process. She and the nurse both told us that it was highly likely that I would have to have a c-section the next day if the circumstances didn’t improve. 

Low and behold, it hurt like crazy (LIKE CRAZY), but she broke my water! I had told the nurse earlier that morning that I thought my water might have broken when I was in the shower. I guess I had no idea what that flood would feel like!! It was like a warm rush of liquid that seemed never ending at the time. 

The Doctor told me that she’d be back to check on me after her rounds. Her last appointment in her office next to the hospital was at 2:00 p.m. She said I probably wouldn’t go into labor until the evening and possibly the next day. Little did she know, baby girl wanted to arrive a bit more quickly. 

An hour later I had already gotten my epidural and was dilated to 4 centimeters. The nurse had asked when I wanted my epidural and I told her that I wanted it is soon as I could get it. As soon as my water had broken I was already having very painful contractions (and I thought the night before was bad, who knew?). My husband helped me through that process and once the epidural was in place I felt much better.

The next time she checked in on me nothing had changed. My mom got there and we gave her the updates and told her we’d be playing the waiting game for quite a while. The nurse turned me onto my right side to see if that would help move things around a bit.

The next thing I know, I’m talking to my mom and husband and I have a very painful contraction. Gripping the sides of the bed and crying, I just know that I’ve opened up a little. The nurse comes in and I tell her so, so she checks to see how much I’ve dilated at this point. Her head is coming out!!

Deep breaths.

The nurse calls the doctor on her radio to let her know this is happening and happening now and the doctor says she just had to finish up one quick appointment. Then the nurse reiterated that this was something that couldn’t wait. She really meant that the baby was coming NOW.

My nurse seriously took charge and started running the show. If the doctor wasn’t going to be on time, then we were going to have the baby without her. I never trusted anyone more than my nurse and am so grateful that she was the one in the room with us. All of a sudden there was a team of people in the room.

My mom and husband were both on my right side holding my hand and I was uncontrollably shaking and crying. My bodies reaction to the pain and circumstances was more than I could have imagined. 

The nurse instructed me on breathing and pushing in intervals and the baby slowly started making its way. My doctor flew in just in time to take over and my baby was delivered in the next several minutes. She told my mom and husband not to worry, and that my reaction was just hormones. 

The umbilical cord was wrapped around the her foot so had to be cut loose and she was immediately taken by the nurses. While I was getting stitched up they were working on the baby. I didn’t know what was going on, but my husband kept staring in her direction watching it all. I looked up at him and it didn’t seem like all was ok. I’ll never forget seeing the image of her when she was delivered. So dark and tiny and still. She was born at 11:05am.

With so much going on it was hard to focus and understand anything, but I remember being a little worried. More so because the look on his face, trying not to worry but knowing that he was. My mom there, telling me everything was fine and that I did such a good job. After what seemed like forever, we heard the most beautiful cry I’ve ever heard in my life and I started crying. It turns out that she wasn’t breathing and they had to unclog her little throat. 

We weren’t able to hold her and I wasn’t able to see her closely for about an hour. She measured in at 4 pounds, 14 ounces so could not keep her body temperature up. When she was finally warm enough, they wrapped her up and put two stocking hats on to keep her head warm and finally handed her to me. 

What a feeling. 

Shortly after, my Dad, Sister, Mother and Father In-law arrived.

Cosette Isabela had her eyes wide open, taking everything in and all of a sudden was our little girl who stole our whole hearts in such a short amount of time.

I hope this is an experience I’ll never forget. It was the hardest experience I’ve ever had, and also the best. 

It showed me how strong I am and it was also something that brought me and my husband even closer. I was so lucky that my mom was there too. I feel like I couldn’t have done it without them.

Soap Suds

It seems like bar soap has been on an upward trend. A lot of us ladies like our loofahs drenched in body washes, but most of us learned to bathe with bar soaps. Let’s face it, most bar soaps that you get from your local grocers or convenient stores dry out your skin and the ingredients aren’t that great for you either. Body washes seem like a better option because they don’t fall to the bathtub floor quite as easily and marketers make the packaging oh so pretty! Plus it’s easier to empty out those suds on our exfoliating poufs…

Which leads me to this…

Independent soap makers have it figured out and I’m going to share my top bars with you. If you want to suds up with nature’s ingredients while keeping your skin silky smooth and soft, then this is the way to go. I have no problem layering up my pouf with these luxuriously lathering bars either.

Below are five of my favorites!

Hand In Hand 

Clean Water Collection

Not only do they have great bar soaps, they are a company that gives back in more ways than one. First they make your skin feel lovely, but not only your skin, they nourish other people’s skin too!! They have two collections: The Clean Water Collection and the Espere Collection. For every product they sell in the Clean Water Collection, they donate a bar of soap and provide a month of clean water to a child in need.

For every product purchased in the Espere collection, they provide small business loans to entrepreneurs in underdeveloped countries so they can create jobs and provide sustainable incomes for families in their communities.


There are several different scents within the clean water collection which is where you’ll find the bar soaps. The newest scent is coral which is what I’ll show you in my vlog!

Free Reign Farm 

I am in love with this line and so is my man! Free Reign Farm is based in the Appalachian mountains of Tennessee and they have a goat farm. That’s right, this soap is handmade from goats milk and essential oils. It is super duper moisturizing and currently our go-to bar soap. This a great all natural alternative for skin that needs nourishment without additives. My personal favorite bar is the oatmeal and honeysuckle. My nose can’t  get enough of it and neither can my skin!

All of our goat milk soaps are made with the maximum amount of farm fresh goat milk per bar (36%), natural colors (herbs & clays), pure essential oils, non-GMO oils, and a true 1800’s base recipe…These goat milk soaps are great for sensitive and dry skin, better lather, longer lasting, and much more moisturizing.”


As a side note, one of the boutiques that carries this soap also carries their deodorant and the owner says its the best natural deodorant she has tried to date! If you’re looking for something supernatural..oh wait, super natural…you’ll want to dive in to this brand and try all of their products!

Soap & Paper Factory
This line is just absolutely aesthetically beautiful! 

Mission Grove Collection


Ahh, of course the packaging is pretty, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts! The girls at Soap & Paper factory are just like the brand they’ve crafted, beautiful on the inside and out. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know them and they are down to earth, warm loving souls, who create beauty wherever they go because of who they are (plus they are fun to drink tequila with). They are like the female soap making versions of Anthony Bourdain. Does that make sense to anyone but me? If not, it’s a compliment!

They are soaked up in the craftsmanship and deliver perfection. This unicorn brand (that was supposed to say unique, but unicorn works too) is the definition of quality and you can tell how much thought, creativity, passion and hard work goes into its creation. There are several collections in this line, so it should pretty much please anyone and everyone!

Farmacie Collection

My personal collection favorites are the new Mission Grove collection (which you may have also seen a picture of on my Instagram account) and the Farmacie collection. All these natural handmade soaps are made with Shea butter, essential oils, and love! You must check out their website so you can find a retailer near you!

Oh! And don’t  forget about their holiday collection (yes I started my sentence with “And” and you can get over it)! Some people like to burn this year round (and when I talk about some people I’m talking about me and everyone else that’s ever had the pleasure of smelling this).

A MUST for thr holidays

Roland Pine Collection

Pacifica


pacifica imagesWhile Pacifica make-up has been on an upward trend, let’s hope they hang on to some of the products they started with. Pacifica is an awesome cruelty-free line and one that can be safely used and worn by everyone because if it’s 100% vegan ingredients. I do wear their make-up, but we’ll talk about that on a different day! Their soaps are magnificent, which is a word I rarely use, but they so deserve it. The scents are fresh and each soap is infused with fresh ingredients and ground almond meal which is ideal for exfoliating without being too rough. Personally, my favorite soap is the Tuscon Blood Orange bar. This is one of the top scents in their line in all segments including candles and perfume.tuscan_blood_orange_natural_soapTokyo Milk
TOKYO MILK HEADER
This is yet another line with beautiful packaging, but once again it’s what’s inside that counts. Tokyo milk has delicious scents, creamy lathering capabilities, and are triple milled like many of these other brands. Triple milled means that the soaps are processed through the milling machine at least three times to push out any excess air and water making them more concentrated and long lasting. The Tokyo Milk bars are full of moisturizing Shea butter!

Here is another lesson for you since I’ve mentioned Shea butter before (and wanted to learn myself). Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African Shea Tree. It’s usually off white or ivory colored and is actually edible!! This doesn’t mean you should eat your soap, but when your mom says she’s going to wash your mouth out with it, don’t be nervous!

Tokyo Milk is a Margot Elena brand that has been around for quite some time. All of her brands are high quality, well constructed, and have a focus on fragrance. With each soap there are top and bottom fragrance notes. One of my favorite scents is the Tour Eiffel which has Linden, Honeyed Rose, Wisteria Petals, and White Musk (I love white musk!). You can see the image below.

TokyoMilk-soap-Tour-Eiffel

Tokyo Milk also has mini soaps, as seen below. These are so delightful, because any baby version of a product always is! They are made the same way and give you the ability to try out several different scents or give to someone else as a gift.

TKM-Collection-Header-shopby_minisoaps_2048x2048

Thanks for checking out these bars and my thoughts on them. Whichever one you choose for shower time, your skin will be grateful to be fed with such  nourishment. Happy shopping! Let me know if you try any of these out and what your thoughts are! Also, many of these brands may be in a local boutique near you. Always support your local business and shop small!

 

How to find your brand

As an actress, more than half of the job has to do with business and not talent. Lately I’ve been learning how to manage my business and market my brand. When I started thinking more and more about this, I decided that I would start incorporating my new practices into FitFabDelish. I have a day job and I manage that business just fine. I have built relationships and I work with some of the same customers over and over again while gaining new customers. There is no difference between that business and my independent businesses.

I created fitfabdelish for three reasons, all of which are in the name.

  • Fitness & Health
  • Fashion & Cool Products
  • Food & Drink

These three things are all things that I care about and have ALWAYS cared about! However, the true core of these three things is taking care of yourself in order to be a happier, healthier you. That’s my essence, not the three categories that I focus on. To create your blog and create your brand, you have to find something that you are passionate about and that you have fun talking about all of the time. Find something that’s FUN for you and you’ll find your niche. Fashion is huge right now, but if you enjoy reading books and going to cool local bookshops and coffee shops on the weekend instead of window shopping and retail, then fashion isn’t for you. It will get old and become hard to come up with content. The other part is all about figuring out your WHY. WHY do you want to teach people about these bookstores or introduce them to the new novels your reading. WHY do you want others to know about this unique lifestyle that you lead?

What is your essence? 


What makes you YOU? Why are you unique? Essence isn’t your experiences, it’s more about your expression or how you handle your experiences.

Have you ever asked a stranger what their first impression is of you? People still judge books by their cover, which means they are judging you that way too. We judge each other by what we’re wearing, whether we’re smiling or not, whether we pull out a fancy wallet from our bag at the grocery store, or whether we have a funky paper change purse to hold all of our valuables. People judge us by how we respond when someone asks, “How are you?” People also judge us  when we walk in front of another’s moving car in the parking lot. Do you wave to say thank you, or in apology? Do you walk with conviction and authority or move in embarrassed haste? There are so many questions.

Have you ever ran into someone that tells you what color your aura is? I’ve had three different people tell me that I have a blue aura and I really don’t know what that means, but I know they tell me that because they noticed something about me right away. That was them noticing my essence right off that bat.

Finding your brand has everything to do with finding your true essence. Find your passion and make it work for you. We all have something unique about ourselves. You may not even have a clue as to what it is. Ask ten people what they find special about you and I’ll bet you’ll get a similar answer most of the time. Take those special things and use them. It’s much easier to work with what we already have at hand, than trying to reinvent ourselves with what we think othwers will deem cool.

You are your brand. Embrace it and the rest will come! 

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