Happy Cyber Monday! ..and busiest shopping time of year

    I'm big on online shopping. Save gas money, save time, save money by researching to find similar items at a lower prices, and at this time of year, save yourself from fighting traffic, long lines, and save your life [have you seen how cray cray people get on Black Friday?] So my opinion is that if you're online shopping at all you're doing it right, BUT if you're not using EBATES, you're missing out!
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SO EASY:

     EBATES is pretty much the only way I shop online and it's so easy. With over 1,700 stores I never have trouble finding what I need! I simply log into my EBATES account, search for the store or the item I'm looking for, click to open a shopping cart at that store, and start shopping and earning!
    Saving money is something else I'm 'big' on so I'm always on the lookout for great deals which are guaranteed at EBATES. Even if they don't have a current coupon code for the store you're wanting to shop at, you're always going to get cash back. On average, I usually get about 3.5% cash back. There are stores that only give 2% cash back, there are stores with 10% or more, and some days stores have special "double cash back" times [like today!]! Even as little as 1% is still something in my eyes.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE:

    If you've seen the commercial on TV you've probably thought, "no way" - and I can tell you, the amount some of those ladies have 'gotten back' is either blown out of proportion, combined from several years, or they have a slight shopping addiction. My first check was around $15, nowhere near $900, but that's my half of a date-night dinner out, a movie ticket, or a few specialty coffee drinks at Starbucks! I honestly thought it was too good to be true but so far it's worked. If I'm already shopping online, I may as well get a little extra back!

DIRECTLY FROM THE EBATES WEBSITE:

"People often ask: "This sounds too good to be true, how are you able to do it?" It really is quite simple. Just like almost every other online shopping center, we get a commission from the stores when you make a purchase. Instead of keeping that money - like almost all other sites do - we share it with you!"

SIGN UP NOW:

    Signing up is so easy and EBATES does not ask for any bank or credit card information, simply an address for where they should send the check. Which, ps., they're also willing to send to a charity of your choosing if you wish. You can learn more by clicking the link below! Happy Shopping!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
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    Recently I was reading one of those annoying pop-up articles from my Facebook newsfeed about how celebrities seem to have it all but there has to be something wrong with them. It was then that I was reminded of this lovely scandal from a few years back:
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I really am not a fan of Jessica Simpson.
Never have been. [Sorry, Tosha, and anyone else I may offend!]
Maybe it's how she's acted on two Cincinnati trips that I know of.
Maybe it's the fake baby voice she uses combined with the dumb blonde act.
Maybe it's the creepy father-daughter relationship she and her dad have.
Maybe I'm just confused as to how she got Nick to marry her.
Or why she sold her marriage to gain fame from a TV show.
Regardless of all of that, as a hygienist, I actually have a reason to dislike her.
Jessica Simpson doesn't brush her teeth daily.
    Wait, what was that excuse?! "My teeth are too white! .. too slippery!" ?! There is one thing to not be ashamed of: she flosses daily [usually the issue is the other way around with patients]. BUT there's a reason we recommend brushing twice daily as well as flossing every day. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "If you don't floss your teeth you're missing 1/3 of your tooth's surface" - if that's true [trust me, it is] she's missing 2/3 by not brushing. Maybe you're not good at math, but that is over a majority of the tooth that doesn't get clean.
    Some people would argue:
  • "But she is removing debris with a shirt or washcloth" - other than the fact that this is gross.. there's a reason we have toothbrushes! The bristles on toothbrushes are formed to go slightly under the gumline to clear debris from the cheek and tongue sides of your teeth [if you're brushing correctly]. A t-shirt, sweater, or washcloth isn't going to provide this same level of clean around the most important part of your teeth: the gumline. Plus, where has that t-shirt been?! This may be enough to keep the visible teeth and gums clean, but is not likely sufficient around the larger back teeth.
  • "But she rinses with Listerine.. that kills all the bacteria" - Yes, Listerine does kill all of the bacteria. By all, it means all, even the good bacteria. Any mouthwash containing alcohol should not be used more than 3-4 times a week or you'll end up killing most of the good bacteria that you need. That being said, maybe she uses Listerine Zero? Either way, here's what she's essentially doing: imagine you have a baking dish with baked on food, you spray it with Lysol then rinse under water while lightly rubbing your fingers over it for 30 seconds. Would you think it's ready to use again for the next meal? No. Sure, you may have killed the germs sitting on top of the baked on food, but there's still old food on the surface! You have to use detergent [toothpaste] and a sponge [toothbrush] to truly clean off the debris or it will continue to pile on.
  • "Her teeth are white, they must be healthy" - the color of your teeth doesn't always reflect the health, it's the color of the gums that really matters! It's sad how often I've had patients who haven't been to the dentist in years and come in requesting whitening. Some practices will do the whitening despite underlying problems as long as there isn't too much build up on the teeth, and most all will at least remove the visible "gunk" before applying the whitening, ergo, a person could have perfectly white teeth without having healthy teeth. Someone could also have perfect oral hygiene yet have slightly darker teeth due to habits such as drinking a lot of coffee, tea, or red wine. In reality, Jessica's teeth are probably as white as they are due to the fact that she can afford to get them whitened frequently - this has nothing to do with the health of her teeth or the "slippery feeling" she refers to.  Since she flosses, it is unlikely she has a gum color that would be considered "unhealthy" in areas that are immediately visible when she smiles, but I would be interested to see the gumline around her back molars. This is an area that even patients who do brush daily have difficulty keeping clean so it could present a big problem in someone who only brushes maybe 3 times out the the recommended 14 times a week.

    What I would recommend: I don't know anyone who doesn't like that squeaky clean feeling on their teeth. As Jessica's dentist told People after hearing her revelation, "People pay us a lot of money for that slippery feeling. It’s kind of the best part." Obviously I want everyone to brush and floss daily. If, like Jessica, you feel your teeth are already "too slippery" so you've chosen not to brush, I'd recommend dry brushing [brushing without water/toothpaste]. If you try that and it's still too much, dry brush at least at the gumline. This combined with flossing ensures that the gums stay healthy enough to do their job of keeping your teeth in place without making the teeth completely smooth like toothpaste will do. Ensure you are flossing daily, drink plenty of water and do "tongue sweeps" throughout the day [especially before and after meals] to help keep debris from sticking.
    When it comes to your teeth, don't be a Jessica Simpson! Her teeth may be white, but it's not likely her gums are a healthy color!
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    We spent our last California days [April 23-24] in Los Angeles. Other than the smog, which can ruin a would-be-perfectly-gorgeous view on a sunny day, there's only one thing we truly hate about LA: the traffic. We both decided we could never live there unless we were billionaires with access to our own helicopter to take us places - so, we will never live there. If we ever vacation there again, we will be staying on Manhattan Beach, Hermosa beach or Santa Monica - but on our Cross Country budget, we took every free-on-points room we could which required us to stay a little farther out and deal with the heavy traffic getting places.
    We have been to LA as a couple a total of four times now, and Tyler has been twice more with friends to watch soccer games. On this trip, we squeezed in our favorites, Pink's Hotdog Stand, Lemonade [both food, surprise!], and Manhattan Beach, as well as adding the Griffith Observatory which we both had been wanting to see.
    Tyler wanted to go to Sugarfish [another restaurant, can you tell we like to get our eat on?!] and I wanted to go to Disney, but there wasn't enough time this trip! If you're ever planning to visit LA, under each section of pictures* below I've highlighted some of our favorite things to see and do and of course, eat, from prior trips! Most all of them have click-able links that will take you directly to the site. One thing we never did that I wish we had was a celebrity home tour - but I don't know if I could get Tyler to sit still that long - he is not nearly as interested in architecture as I am!

To Do:

 Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure – you don’t even need kids to go here and no one judges you for coming as an adult without kids! The best part is both parks are compact with most all of the same rides as Disney World and are both easily doable in a day each [without kids]! If we’d had the time I would have gone back in a heartbeat, but Tyler’s rule is there must be a 5 year span between each Disney trip so that you can forget how awesome it is and be blown away again. Guess this will have to be my Babymoon if I want to come back without kids again – coming solo after having kids would be cruel.

Paramount Pictures Studio Tour – really any studio tour would be fun, we just did this one on recommendation from friends and loved it! Find out where your favorite movie and/or TV shows were filmed then do that tour! We did the 2hour tour and that was plenty for us. It was so fun to learn a few secrets of the industry, plus you may even spot a celebrity! We saw the cast of Glee when we were there.. unfortunately no one on our tour [including us, we don’t have cable] knew who they were and they seemed slightly angry no one was waving at them until our guide told us to, oops!

Red Carpet Event – if you ever have a chance to go to one, do it! Even if there’s no guarantee of a bunch of major A-list celebrities there, go – you never know who might become famous later and you can say, “I met them!” We were lucky enough to get tickets to the X-Factor Finalist Party through Tyler's work and I got to touch Mario Lopez - enough said.

Santa Monica – so much more than a beach! This is the end of historic Route 66, has a fun pier with games and rides, is home to Muscle Beach, and a huge outdoor shopping center, Third and Promenade. But the beach is pretty, too! I would love to stay here for a week or so, get up, run to Muscle Beach for a workout then down to Starbucks for coffee, and that’s saying a lot since I hate working out!

To See:

Griffith Observatory – the best parts of this place are the views and the price! If all you want to see are the views, then it’s free! If you’re interested in the planetarium then there is a fee. Be sure to check on their website before heading there as they are closed some days and have special hours. The telescope is also free to see but only at night and we were interested in seeing the views of the city during the day. There are a few hikes around the observatory that looked fun but we did not bring our hiking shoes nor did we have time! Also, depending on which way you drive in [we went in on the Greek Theater side] you’ll go through a neighborhood with some gorgeous cottage-like homes [on the larger scale] and meticulously maintained lawns - so beautiful it made us re-think our, "we're never living in LA," statements, if only for a moment!

Hollywood Sign – surprisingly this is not as visible from as many places as you think it would be! I would recommend following the directions on this site to get a good view!

Hollywood Walk of Fame and Chinese Theater – my recommendation for the Walk of Fame is that you decide who you want to see beforehand and find out the exact location of that star then you’ll see some other unexpected stars on the way – faster than walking around looking through all 2,500+ stars to find one! There's also an "Upcoming Star Ceremonies" tab that you can plan your trip around based on if you want to see it or you want to steer clear of the traffic! We didn’t go in the Chinese Theater, just slipped our fingers and toes into some of the hand-and-footprints outside for photos!

Manhattan Beach – it’s a beach and it’s gorgeous, enough said! Ps. the parking spots on either side of the pier are 5hour limit vs. the 2hour limit parking lots a few streets up – so you’re closer and you can stay longer, win.

Rodeo Drive – so what if you can’t afford anything?! Stroll the streets and snap some pictures in front of your favorite “I wish” stores! I went in to Juicy Couture just for fun and ended up finding a shirt for $17 including tax, so naturally I had to get it!

To Eat:

Lemonade – the only Lemonade to rival Chick-fil-A’s! They have a ton of flavors but our favorite is the Guava Lemonade! I was confused at the food options and ordering process the first time I went in, but the employees were all super friendly and helpful, plus you can sample almost anything before choosing to buy it - definitely try things! They have so many different "salads" with crazy ingredients that I thought sounded nasty but were heavenly! This last time I had a cauliflower, raisin, and nut salad that was to die for but had the employee not insisted I try it, I wouldn't have gotten it!

Pink’s Hotdog Stand – seriously the best hotdogs ever! They have so many different combinations, they are reasonably priced, and it is a popular LA spot, plus I just love their story! You can read about their story here! They have their own parking lot with free parking which is hard to find in LA! The lot is small but we’ve never had an issue finding a spot.

Sugarfish – I have never been, but my husband raves about this sushi place stating that the sushi is warm and melts in your mouth! I’ve just recently gotten in to sushi and am not a big fan of many rolls but if you are, I’d give it a try!


*all photos are our own

Ps. We currently just arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico after two days in Vegas and a night in Flagstaff! Vegas post coming soon - we update our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts almost daily, so you can follow along there: #PeterCrossCountry
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    Continuing with the "Investment" theme..

Invest in Others

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    See that huge smile on that little girl's face? That's all you need to see to feel like the richest person in the world. This is my husband and I on our first mission trip together, Senior year of high school. We went with a group of teachers and students, including my sister, to beautiful Costa Rica. We helped in orphanages and in this church. Building and painting in the morning, holding Vacation Bible School in the afternoon, and touring the city at night.
    While Costa Rica was one of my favorite mission trips ever, and a mission trip to Africa is a deep desire for both my husband and I, we can't afford to go to either of those places right now. The good thing is, as with investing in yourself and the ones you love, you don't always have to spend money to invest in others. A few weeks ago, my husband and I went with Chick-fil-A Walnut Creek and employees from Kaiser to volunteer at the City Team International shelter in Oakland, CA. Chick-fil-A's Owner/Operator [pictured handing out meals below] generously donated 300 meals for the event. Coats, clothes, and shoes were collected from various places around the city to provide a free store for the homeless and less fortunate in the area.
    Doors to the shelter-turned-free-store officially opened at 11:00am, but when we arrived with the food at 10:30am, the line was already down the block. It was a pleasure to be serving and truly eye-opening about the needs in our own backyard. Volunteering [in other words, investing in others] is also an investment in yourself and your growth as a person. You realize just how good you have it.. which, if you're reading this right now, is better than most.
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    Investing in others can be costly, time, energy, and money-wise. You have to take time out of your daily schedule, maybe even several days off work if you're going to go on an actual mission trip, which may mean less money in your paycheck. It also takes money to travel out of the country, you might have to buy and bring supplies, may end up leaving the clothes and shoes you take with you there because there's a need and you can't say no.. and you lose a lot of energy doing manual labor if you're not used to it.. but from first hand experience, I can guarantee you that none of that will matter when you see the smile on the faces of those you're helping.
    Other than doing Operation Christmas Child together each year, my husband and I hadn't truly volunteered together since Costa Rica. It was such a blessing to do this together and we are committed to doing more in the future. I encourage you to take a step back from your daily life and go volunteer somewhere. You won't get paid for it, but you will be blessed. Or, if you believe in Karma, it'll come back around.
    Bless and be blessed!
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    This month of love, all Tuesday tips are about investing. Last week was "Invest in You," and still to come are, "Invest in Others" and "Invest in God."

Invest in the Ones You Love

    If someone asked you, "who do you love?" chances are that in your top 5 you'd have: your spouse [or significant other], your parents, your siblings, your kids, your BFFs, and [of course] your dog but he doesn't really count for this [we all know you already invest a lot of spoiling his direction]. Investing in the ones we love can be difficult sometimes. Many think that "investing" requires spending money, it doesn't [at least not much as you'll see]. Spending too much money can cause entitlement issues as Dave Ramsey's daughter Rachel Cruze points out in the article "Spoiled or Blessed". If you read the article, a snippet from their upcoming book, you'll see that everything comes down to attitude - are your gifts given with thoughtfulness in love or just given because you're conditioned to or feel you have to? Here are some ways to show the ones you love that you care about them not because you have to, but because you get to.
1. Send a Handwritten Note, Just Because
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    I really can't tell you how much this means to someone to receive a handwritten note in this age of technology, but Discovering Hadley [the blog where I found the picture above] puts it this way:
"Is there anything more pleasantly surprising than going to the mail box expecting bills, solicitations, and maybe (if you’re lucky) a catalog from a company you like, and finding a handwritten note? We think not .. no matter how small, it can make your day or your week."
    If the person is someone you live with like a spouse or child, sending mail isn't practical, but Post-it notes are! I LOVE Post-its and have often used them around the house to leave Tyler little notes to let him know I'm thinking of him. I've also been known to sneak little notes in between his clothes when he leaves on a business trip. Handwritten notes are the perfect way to let someone know you're thinking of them on more than just holidays.
2. Mini Gifts, Just Because
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photo credit: Flax and Twine
    So, maybe you can't knit, but if you have any crafty bone in you, I promise people will love homemade gifts. Maybe baking is your thing? People love food, too. Use your gifts to invest in others. A lot of times, handmade is less expensive [and almost always more thoughtful] to give. Can't think of something to make - Pinterest is always a good resource. Reeeeally struggling with this one [ahem, guys]? Bringing someone their favorite Starbucks drink just because is a plus. Doing anything "just because" is a big deal. It's nice to know someone cares about you - no ulterior motives or strings attached.
3. Turn Off the T's
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photo credit: iStockphoto
    There's no better way to show someone that you're not invested in them, than by constantly being on your telephone, tablet, or watching TV. Turn it off! In a world overrun with technology, it's important to have some off time to connect with people on an emotional level. At our house, we have a no cell phones at the table rule. Meals are our time to connect with each other and go over the day ahead or reflect on our day's accomplishments together.
4. Remember Them
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photo credit: Google search "Calendar"
    Don't forget important dates for the ones you love! Keep a calendar or list of the ones you love that includes their birthdays, graduation dates, weddings, job interviews, etc.! Even if you can't be there or can't afford to send a gift, sending a nice text or note lets them know you're thinking of them and they'll appreciate it! From personal experience, I can tell you how much it hurts to have a family member forget your birthday or not show up at your wedding.
A Big No-No.
    Something not to do when it comes to investing in the ones you love is gift-giving as an apology. Many will disagree with me on this but here are my thoughts on it:
    Gift-giving as an apology conditions the recipient to think that they will get something every time you do something wrong and they may start to nit-pick and find new reasons to be critical of what you're doing that "hurts their feelings" [consequently running you out of money]. See the link above for the Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze article - this is one of those things that could result in a spoiled child or spouse or friend, and cause you to be taken advantage of. I'm not saying don't take your kid out for ice cream to have a neutral ground to explain to him why you missed his baseball game, I'm just saying don't take him to Toys-R-Us.
    Something to also think about: how sincere is your apology if you're handing over a new diamond necklace at the same time? Are you truly sorry, or hoping the monetary value and shininess of the gift will cause them to overlook your wrong-doing?
Planning Ahead
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    Above you can see how my husband and I plan ahead to invest in the ones we love and keep within a budget. Every month we put down birthdays and holidays that gifts should be purchased for. We also have an "extra" tab each month - money that can be used to be thoughtful unexpectedly by sending a card, or a mini gift, or extra cushion for wedding gifts, etc. The amount we use for each person is blocked out for obvious reasons, but our "extra" budget is only $10 a month. That $120 a year seems to cover most additional charges such as wedding and spontaneous gifts.
    The total amount we anticipate spending we take and divide by 12 [months] to see how much we should be budgeting per month even if it won't be used that month. The columns to the right ensure we don't forget anyone's special day or remind us that we already bought a gift for someone ahead of time.

    Investing in the ones you love - not just monetarily - is a sign of how much you care about them. Let them know you love and care about them often, not just around birthdays, holidays, and Valentine's Day. Be sincere in your giving and remember, you get what you give.

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Gift Guide for Your Man

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Men can be ridiculously hard to shop for, especially on a holiday that mainly exists to make women feel better about themselves and more secure in their relationships. With the help of my own man, I put together this gift guide to help you out in your last week of shopping!

1. Shaving Starter Kit - The Art of Shaving
Sandalwood is personally Tyler's favorite scent, and my favorite scent to smell on him.
2. Sonicare Diamond Clean Rechargeable Toothbrush in Black - Best Buy
Nothing girly about this black beauty, but it's a wife's bathroom decor dream.
3. San Francisco Neighborhood Print - Flying Junction Co.
Does your guy have a favorite city? These prints are a cool way to help him decorate his bachelor pad or man cave, just don't get one that's too colorful - men appreciate simplicity.
4. Nate Three-Hand Stainless Steel Watch in Black - Fossil
For the businessman in your life. I'm extremely partial to watches and this one is the perfect combination to be dressy for work and casual for going out. Plus, it's a great price for Fossil!
5. "You Are My Greatest Adventure" Hand Made Print - Brown Fox Calligraphy
Bri has amazing handwriting! These are straight 'pen to paper' - no importing to Illustrator or any other program and reprinting. A sweet reminder of what your guy means to you.
6. Instagram Fridge Magnets -Sticky Gram
You may not be able to get into his Instagram pics [or you could screen shot them all and upload to a private account..] but chances are, you have pictures on your Instagram of things that you've done and places you've been together. Fridge magnets are a fun way to keep those memories alive! Use code FRIENDTE91 for $4 off your order!
7. Movie Date
They may not admit to it, but guys appreciate a girl helping out once in a while! Create a simple gift basket with popcorn, his favorite candy, and movie tickets for a date night - just make sure you let him pay for Valentine's and use this another time!
8. Chapstick - not pictured
According to Tyler this should be on the list because, "Manly men don't invest in their lips," haha!

"Hey, I just met you.. this is crazy"

Gifts #3 and #7 are for you! You don't want to come across as too into it if it's only been a few weeks, and you don't want to make him feel bad if you've spent more than him!
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#3 shows a bit of thoughtfulness, while #7 still keeps it cool. Either way, you don't want to spend over $25 or you'll risk him thinking that you're getting too attached too quickly! Whatever you do, steer clear of #'s 1 and 2!

"I think I Wanna Marry You"

If you've been together a while, it's okay to spend a little! Other than the gifts listed in "Hey, I just met you.." #'s 1, 5, and 6 are for you!
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#1 comes in a mid-size as well if you want to spend a little extra, but the starter kit is great if he's never tried it before! #'s 5 and 6 would be great combined - tell him he's your greatest adventure then give him the gift of some adventures you've had together!

Ball and Chained Forever

Obviously, any of the gifts are perfect - just base them on your budget or what you think he'd like the most or need the most! I chose #'s 2 and 4 specifically for married or seriously commited couples, but you know your relationship best!
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In addition to #6, I bought Tyler something nostalgic from his childhood - may seem silly to some but I know he'll appreciate having it and for us to start the tradition with our kids in the future!

Here's to a Happy Valentine's Day!

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Dieting Tips for Healthy Teeth

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"You know it's going to be a good day when your morning berries are shaped like teeth" - Said a famous hygienist to her
husband over breakfast."
    In an effort to not wait until the last few months to get all of my Continuing Education courses finished.. I've made a resolution to complete at least one hour every month, enter in: Tooth Tips! My favorite part of my job as a Hygienist is educating patients on important info.

    Did you know one of the first people who can tell you've made a diet change is your Dental Professional? Both negative diet changes and positive, healthy diet changes have an effect on your mouth. With New Year's resolutions in play, here are some things to watch out for with new diets:
  • Fruit Consumption
  • Fruit Infused Water
  • Sports Drinks [to fuel new work outs]
  • High-Frequency/Low Intake Diets
   
    What you need to know: Teeth are more susceptible to breakdown [cavity formation] when the pH level in your mouth dips below 5.5. pH what? Back to middle school science class. The pH scale has values from 1-14 and shows the difference between acids and bases; acids are lowest on the scale, bases are the higher numbers, and 7 is neutral. Naturally, your saliva keeps your mouth within the 6.5-7.5 range, it's what you put in your mouth that changes the pH.

    Fruit: There are so many benefits to fruit for the body, but fruits tend to have more acidity. Try drinking a glass of regular water before and after eating foods that have a high acid content to help aid your saliva in bringing the pH back to normal as quick as possible. The less time your teeth sit in an acid bath, the lass time cavities have to form. Protein and dairy products also help to coat the teeth to protect them from the low pH, so a fruit and cheese plate is a perfect -and delicious - snack option.

    Fruit-infused water: I've seen a lot of this going around on Pinterest and Instagram especially with lemons. First, bravo for diluting the acidity of the lemons, but you've still made the neutral water acidic. Drink with a straw to bypass the teeth, and be sure to start off and finish with a glass of water.

    Sports drinks: Do I even have to go here? Short version: sugar helps cause cavities, sports drinks are full of sugar. Water is really your best option for hydration, but if you need a boost from a sports drink, try to at least rinse with water after!

    High-Frequency/Low Intake Diets: These have become very popular in the past 5 years. The goal is to eat less more frequently to keep your hunger satisfied without ever overeating at a meal. This doesn't seem like a problem, especially if you're trying to lose weight. What it doesn't take in to account is what I just taught you about pH. The goal is to keep your mouth's pH around 7 so that the bad bacteria can't work it's magic on your teeth. After each drink, meal, snack, etc. it takes your saliva around 20-30 minutes to return back to normal. Eating makes your pH low, and with minimal recovery time before the next "meal" - your pH stays low which provides more opportunity for the bad bacteria to form cavities. If you've chosen to take this step to help lose weight, be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your meals to help your mouth regulate quicker!

    Very Important Note: You may have noticed I never once said, "brush your teeth," at any point. This is not because I don't want you to brush your teeth, I just don't want you to when your acid level is high. Although it may seem like a brilliant idea to brush your teeth to help return your pH level to normal quicker [since toothpaste is basic], it's not! Your teeth, like your skin, are porous and acid opens those pores up by eroding the enamel. If there is any acid still in the mouth coating the teeth, then brushing your teeth would be just like forcing the acid further in to those pores. Rinsing with water helps the saliva return the mouth to the normal pH level but it still may take a few minutes. It's best to drink or rinse with water, wait at least 15 minutes, rinse with water again, then brush.

    Most Important Takeaway: Water is your best friend. Especially fluoridated water. Fluoride helps to remineralize spots on the teeth that acids from food and drinks may have eroded.

    More Tips from dentalcare.com:
  1. To reduce cariogenicity of the diet, for adults suggest limiting eating events to three times a day with no more than two between meal snacks and eliminating highly retentive foods such as crackers, chips, and soft candies.
  2. For children who need the energy provided by between meal snacks, they should be healthy food choices low in cariogenic potential such as cheese, raw vegetables, meat roll-ups, and fresh fruit.
  3. When oral hygiene does not follow a meal, suggest ending a meal with cheese or milk, chewing gum with xylitol, or rinsing with water.
  4. To stimulate salivary flow, include cool, sour, or tart nutrient dense foods (sugar free), increase water intake, and suck on sugar free mints.
  5. Incorporate low-fat, calcium rich foods in the diet, spaced throughout the day for the best absorption rate.

    Special thanks to dentalcare.com for always providing free, relevant continuing education courses!


Ps. In Case You Were Wondering..

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    Taylor Swift and Katy Perry tied for my vote in best dressed at the Grammy's this Sunday. Taylor's dress is so just so stunning and classy, while Katy's was so unique as well as perfect for the occasion! Speaking of dresses, have you entered to WIN FREE dresses for a year? More details here!

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Budget Talk

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    Is your resolution to start saving money by couponing? This post is totally not to trash "Extreme Couponers," but to inform those who may be getting into couponing and falling into the traps of couponing. I don't know if I can still categorize myself as 'newlywed,'  but I will anyway. As a newlywed, I quickly learned that my college diet of cereal, peanut butter and jelly, Lean Pockets, Goldfish, and carrots and apples for every meal wouldn't cut it. I had to start shopping for actual meal food to support this "growing boy." Our first grocery bill made me want to cry. I had never spent so much in a grocery store! Enter idea: start cutting coupons!
    These are some things I learned about cutting coupons:
  • It's time consuming.
  • They don't work if you leave them clipped to the fridge door. Or in your purse.
  • Couponing can actually make you spend more money by enticing you to purchase things that you wouldn't normally buy. And then you may or may not ever use that item..
  • Purchasing something because the coupon says, "buy one get TWO FREE!" is NOT a good idea if you have never purchased the product before - it's wasteful after you try the first yogurt and it was awful so the other two just sit there and grow mold. This is also not a good idea if you have to use an extra bathroom as a storage room. "Honey, where are the paper towels?" "Oh, in the shower!" - True story. I think that was from a Wife Swap or Hoarders show.
  • Percentages aren't always as big as they seem! Beware Target Cartwheel users: 5% off doesn't even cover tax anymore!
     Tips for Couponing:
  • Try using apps on your phone to spend less time cutting!
  • Don't let it become to stressful or overwhelming. Saving money should be fun!
  • Only coupon for things you need!
  • Along with the first one, don't buy something just because it's on sale.
  • If you're going to do a "buy one get TWO FREE" deal - check expiration dates! Is this something you can "get rid of" or eat before it expires? In addition, set reminders for Groupon expiration dates and read the rules closely!
  • If you can, wait until you're ready to check out before looking for coupons. Target and my local grocery store both have free WiFi in stores and they have couponing apps [seriously the way to go]. I avoid spending excess money by looking at what's in my cart then searching in the keyword search bar for that item [or on Target's app you can just scan the item with your smart phone. Genius.].
  • If you ignore the previous tip, you'll end up spending more money and time doing this: Looking through Target's coupon app before heading in, Ooh! "20% shirts" and "5% shoes," head straight to those departments and force yourself to find something just because it's "such a great deal!" Who knows how much time you'll spend trying to find something to fit the "deal."
    I'm not a pro or extreme couponer by any means, and I am definitely not an expert. But these tips are from personal experience of how I [in a sense] lost money from couponing. If you want to learn more and save more, I recommend using:
..along with any coupon app your local grocery store might offer! Happy Saving!

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Happy New Year!

    Turns out, due to the mail and packaging services being behind and the fact that I only sent them out a week prior to Christmas, our cards were super late - sorry friends and family! This year I resolve to getting them out earlier in December so that there is less of a chance of that happening again!
    As part of my resolutions for the New Year, I am beginning "Tuesday Tips" and "Friday Favorites." I will try to post as many Tuesdays and Fridays as possible; but with work, trying to get a new hygiene license, and preparing for a move that we don't have a date for yet.. it might be tricky! A move? Yes, we will be moving in 2014! No set date yet though! The new city [revealed later, unless our moms, dads, or siblings have already spilled the beans!] wants Tyler there May 1, but they want to keep him here until his replacement arrives in June - so for now, the two cities are battling it out!
    Today's tip, and many Tuesday Tips, will be about budgeting. Everyone's making resolutions for the New Year and this is a popular one! I feel like [while yes, I am a shopaholic] this is something I have a grasp on and can help share my budgeting and saving tips with you! It also helps me to have it written down and out there so I can "practice what I preach" so to say. Here it goes!

If You Can Wait, Wait!

    I know. This is the hardest thing to do, ever. You love that over-priced sparkly pillow and it would look just perfect on your couch. Or that $90 sweater that would look great with your new pencil skirt. Happens to the best of us. We rationalize spending on things that go on sale a month later and we haven't even used or worn them yet! I will admit, there are things that are not worth the wait and sometimes you just need to pamper yourself, but do it within reason!
"Good things come  
                to those who wait.."

Worth the Wait: Holiday Decor.
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    This year I was out of town, so I did not get to go after Christmas shopping for deals on Christmas decor - even my husband was disappointed we missed getting more Christmas decorations. Even though I missed out, by some grace of God, there were a few things left at Pier 1 when I stopped in last night. I picked up the ornaments above for about $1 each. To begin with, the ballet flats were just under $4 and the high heel just under $6, and I got the flats for $0.96 and the high heel for $1.38. Quite the steal. I purchased several of the flats to use under bows for next year's Christmas wrapping.
    All holiday decor is like this! Once the season is over, everything goes on major sale so they can get rid of it and stock the next item. You may be a little short on decor this year, but you won't be short on cash from over-spending, and next year you'll have a great selection!
How to Wait and Deciding What is Worth the Wait

It's a long process, but I make myself do this with most items and it's saved me a lot of money!

1. Take a deeeep breath and walk away from the item.
2. Go home and wait a minimum of 3 days. But preferably a week.
3. After the required time, reevaluate. Have you forgotten about the item? If so, not only is this item worth the wait, it might be something you can live without. Can't get it off your mind, dream about it nightly? Continue on before rushing to the store:
4. Make sure you have funds for the item in your spending money [complete breakdown on how I get my "Spending Money" number to come in a future Tuesday post] - not only should you have the funds for the item, but you should have 1.25x the price. Ex. If an item is $25, make sure you have at least $31.25 available. This accounts for tax, a pack of gum or lip balm you might pick up in the check out lane, and leaves you a little bit of cushion so you're not maxing out your spending money.
5. Have a vision for the item. If it's a clothing item, do you have at least 2 outfits prepared for it? Shoes, same thing. Home decor, if it's not holiday decor, is it something that can be set out for at least 2 seasons of the year, and is it a durable, "years to come" piece? You get the picture; make sure it's not something you'll only wear or use once.
6. Still in love with the item? Check online. Sometimes other stores have the exact same item at a lower price - just watch out for taxes and shipping fees. Also, check the store for any coupons or online deals. No luck? Proceed to step 7.
7. Head to the store and find it. If the item isn't there, I tell myself it wasn't meant to be. If the item is there, I do three things [I told you, long process!]:
  • Pick it up and reevaluate. Again, think of just how you'll use the item. Also, if it's clothing, try it on! Some things look great on the hanger and awful on.
  • Walk away without it. If it's painful, keep walking. Graze down a few isles and come back to the item to see if you still feel the same way about it.
  • Count. Is it the last one? or are there plenty there? If the answer is plenty, it might be worth waiting to see if it goes on sale at a later date. Last one, or only a few left? Proceed to final step.
8. Buy it or Wait. You're seriously thinking, "but I did wait.. a whole week!" After truthfully [see steps 4 and 5] going through the steps, if you've decided it's needed, buy it! You've waited long enough. If it's still if-fy, then wait a little longer. I once walked away from a necklace that was $30 thinking it was over-priced for dainty costume jewelry. I repeated these steps a total of 3 times. The 3rd time I went back to the store, the necklace was over 1/2 off. Definitely worth the wait!

    Yes. The process is long, and painful, but worth it. I can honestly say I've saved a TON of money and stayed in budget by being patient and waiting! What's meant to be in your closet will always find a way to be in your closet.

Happy Saving!
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