For The Love Of Smoothie Bowls

 

My family loves smoothies.  We drink them almost everyday!  It’s an excellent way to add a nutritious treat as well as a great way to start the day!

unnamed-2

I have been noticing this trend with smoothie bowls, so decided what better time to try one than when pairing Stonyfield Yogurt and Bob’s Red Mill Steel Oats?  Oh my goodness was this good!  I already know we love our Stonyfield, but to pair it in this way just upped the breakfast game.  We added Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats on top for a really yummy oatmeal flavor and texture!  And it looks so pretty!  I highly recommend trying this, you will be so happy!

unnamed-3

Here is the recipe for our Morning Smoothie Bowl (This will make two 16oz bowls):

1 1/2 cup frozen fruit – You can use whatever fruit you want really.  We used a mix of strawberries, bananas, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.

1 whole banana

1 cup Stonyfield Yogurt – we used the French Vanilla Whole Milk organic yogurt

1 cup Almond Milk, or milk of your choice

4 scoops protein powder of your choice

3 drops Young Living Orange Vitality Essential Oil

 

Put all ingredients in blender.  For a smoothie bowl you want it rather thick, so if too thin add a little more frozen fruit or ice cubes will work too!  Once blended, pour into your bowl.  You can add just about anything on top.  We added sliced bananas, strawberries, kiwis, blueberries, raspberries, black chia seeds, golden flax seed, Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats and organic whipped cream.  The whole preparation took about 15 minutes from start to finish.

unnamed-1

Your family will feel special when you set these down in front of them at breakfast, or even for an afternoon snack or dessert!!   And you can always feel good serving Stonyfield to your family.  We will be trying different variations for sure!  Enjoy!

unnamed

 

**The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Monkey Mat

The *NEW* Quilted Monkey Mat is your cushy, portable mat for in/outdoor use that can go everywhere! Luxurious yet affordable and with lots of fun features, you can enjoy the waterproof base, central loops for attaching items, spill resistant top, weighted corners, loops for stakes, and the attached ultra-compact pouch to take everywhere!

Perfect for park, beach, dirty floors, concerts, picnics, sporting events, camping, and more. No more bulky blankets! So go ahead – Make your space, any place! www.monkeymat.com

My readers get to save! Use coupon code “USFAM” for $5 off + Free Shipping!
http://usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?regionid=75&bid=12778&dealid=2716 .@usfg

Pack It With Stonyfield and Justin’s For Back-to-School Lunches!

packit

Lunch time is easy when you have Stonyfield squeezers and Justin’s to go butters.  I know my kids are getting a great balance in nutrition, and they love the taste!    The Maple Almond Butter is hands down their favorite!  Easy to open pouches, I can throw these in with some crackers and they are thrilled.  Plus the Justin’s company is full of integrity!  Their values on sustainability, nutritionally sound, all natural products and giving back to the community fall right in line with our family values.   They have a variety of butters and snack items and can be found in your local grocery store.  I highly encourage you to try them and see how easy they are for kids on the go and how yummy they all taste!

packit2

Adding Stonyfield Yogurt Squeezers to the bag makes their lunch even more special.  My youngest daughter loves the Lemonade flavor best.  We also freeze these for tasty after school treats!!  And Stonyfield is full of nothing but goodness for their bodies.  I know they are getting everything they need without all the junk they don’t!

Our newest addition to the back-to-school lunch routine is also our newest favorite!  The PackIt Lunch Cooler is so convenient and fun!  PackIt is the only bag that keeps food and drinks cool for up to 10 hours—no ice packs needed. Its secret sauce? A patented freezable gel that’s built into the walls of the bag.  It’s so simple to use, just throw store it in freezer and when it’s time to pack it, just open it and it’s ready to go!   Plus the patterns are fun and it comes in a huge variety of styles and colors!  We are definitely going to be picking up a couple more of these!  We got the Freezable Lunch Bag and it’s so simple to use.  Folds up neatly to the size of a thick paperback book. It secures with a handy Velcro tab for compact storage.  The entire bag goes in your freezer overnight (12 hours) to activate its built-in freezable gel. By morning, the walls of the bag will be completely frozen and ready to chill just like a fridge.  Everything stays cool and fresh all day!

packit3

With our busy lives, it’s important to make the mornings go as smoothly as possible and these products certainly help!  Check out the PackIt systems here, and grab your Stonyfield and Justin’s products at your local grocery.  Your kids will thank you and your morning will run a bit smoother!!

**The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

 

AdormaPix Special Offer!

adoramatwitter

Your memories deserve more than a lifeless screen! Breathe life into your photos and turn them into beautiful keepsake photo books that will last for generations. Adoramapix’s custom books are high quality and display your images in rich detail. Choose from gorgeous linen, hardcover and leather covers as well as 6 stunning paper finishes. Stop swiping and start printing your family memories with AdoramaPix photo books!

Shop Now:

http://www.adoramapix.com/app/customize-book/

15% off photo books. Use code: PhotoBook15. Sale ends 11/05/2016 11:59 PM EST

Stonyfield YoBaby Happiness Plus GIVEAWAY!

0810161432_HDR

Did you hear the news?!  *Stonyfield YoBaby is the #1 pediatrician recommended brand for 6 month to 2 year olds among refrigerated yogurts (IMS Health ProVoice Survey, 12/01/15 -02/29/16)!

Say what?!  That’s right!  The number 1 yogurt for your beautiful babes.    I have been using Stonyfield brand for years with my kids and now with my grandson.  He will be 2 in November and absolutely loves his yogurt snack time!  I wish I had a story to tell of how he wouldn’t eat a thing until Stonyfield, etc…but honestly, he is a good eater and has loved his yogurt since he started on solids!  I even use it in smoothies for him.  Plus, all Stonyfield yogurts are organic so I can feel good knowing they’re made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones or GMOs.  YoBaby has been available for over 16 years and continues to get better and better.  That’s a generation of young people who got their start on Stonyfield YoBaby!  Several flavors are available including, Plain, Vanilla, Blueberry/Apple, Banana/Mango and Peach/Pear.  Emmet loves the Banana and Mango flavors!

0810161429_HDR

The first time I tried YoBaby was with my youngest daughter.  I was so excited to find a yogurt that was formulated for her little system.  We were exclusively nursing when it became obvious she wanted to “eat” with us.  I wasn’t worried about fruits and veggies, but her older sister loved yogurt and Xiola seemed to want that as well.   I knew I didn’t want her having cow milk, so I did alot of research on giving her yogurt, mainly because I loved it and knew there are benefits to eating a good organic yogurt.  Thanks to the live, active cultures that break down the lactose and protein, it’s much easier for babies to digest.  YoBaby yogurt is naturally rich in calcium and fortified with vitamin D, two must-have nutrients for babies. And there’s no worry that yogurt would replace breast milk or formula in the diet.  For these reasons, pediatricians give yogurt the green light for babies beginning at six months.   That was good information!   Since we were practicing child led weaning, it was a huge plus that it wouldn’t replace her main source of nutrition at that time.  Both girls were nursed until they decided they were finished.  We didn’t introduce solids into their diet until they seemed to want it.  Our first daughter was a year old and Xiola was about 7 months.  We let the girls feed themselves to the best of their ability.  So yogurt time was also a time to explore the gooiness and sensations of the food itself.  Yogurt art on the high chair tray is common in our home today as well.  Ha!  With Xiola, her yogurt journey began at around 8 months of age and she is now almost 11.  And her love for it has only grown.  Now we make smoothies, popsicles…we use it in baking and on granola.  Pretty much any where we can add yogurt we do!  And it’s always Stonyfield.

0810161431_HDR

Right now, Stonyfield wants to  help you get started with YoBaby by giving away a 3 months supply (coupns for Free yogurt will be sent)!  All you need to do is comment on this post about what your favorite yogurt flavor is and I will pick a winner through random drawing!  3 months of YoBaby Happiness!  They might even throw in some extra goodies, you never know!  So leave your comment and you may win a 3 months supply of the number 1 recommended yogurt for your youngster.  Deadline to enter is August 18th!   Good luck!

You can find Stonyfield products at most grocery stores.  The yogurt is also perfect to use in recipes subbing out higher fat ingredients…we use it everyday!  Hope you and your little ones enjoy!

 

 

*The claim was validated by AlphaImpactRx, a provider of primary research-based insights, analytics and solutions. Using the ProVoice survey methodology, AlphalmpacRx fielded to 736 U.S. pediatricians from 12/01/15 to 02/29/16, recording recommendations and validating the claim. For details about AlphaImpactRx please go to http://www.alphaimpactrx.com .  For details about ProVoice, please go to http://www.alphaimpactrx.com/products-andservices/provoice/ .

To Stonyfield’s knowledge, Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt is the only one currently making the claim in the U.S. that it is the #1 Pediatrician Recommended refrigerated yogurt for babies between 6 months to 2 years.  It is anticipated that the new YoBaby yogurt packaging bearing the claim will be on the shelves in or about September 2016, but consumers may see a mix of packaging on the shelf for a brief period of time.  Stonyfield has not had a similar survey or claim validation conducted for YoKids or YoTot products. Stonyfield is not making the above claim with regard to YoKids or YoTot.

**The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Minecraft Summer Splash

4867.jpg

A few weeks ago, Lola had the opportunity to participate in another Minecraft event hosted by Super League Gaming at the local Cinemark Theater in Bee Cave, TX.  Her and her friend spent every morning for 1 week at the theater working on their builds and gaming with other kids from all over the country.  They had a great time!  They were treated really well, had a lot of fun and made some new friends.  We highly recommend these tournaments when they come around.  This is the second one she has done and she is really looking forward to doing more in the future.

This time around it wasn’t just about the game, but they worked on tons of builds with an ocean theme.  The creativity of these kids and how they learn each others strengths and work together to complete these complicated structures is inspiriting.  Imagine if adults could always work together like that?!

So as summer comes to a close and school is just around the corner, we are grateful to Super League Gaming for giving Lola the opportunity to experience this event and look forward to more!

image1         image7        image6        image3

 

image9

 

Tres Lunas Resort Part 2

(This is the second part of an article on our experience at the Tres Lunas Resort.  For Part 1 please click here.)

IMG_2160

pool

Morning time.  After an amazing meal and dining experience the evening before, we awoke to a beautiful morning full of promise.  I was already trying to push away the feeling of sadness at having to leave this day, I promised myself I would savor every last moment.  Oh what a morning awaited us and I had no idea that the experience there would flourish even more.

We were warned that breakfast would be hearty.  That the morning meal is indeed a true feast.  We were not disappointed!
_MG_2218

IMG_20160714_125419

When we walked into the main room, the smell of fresh coffee greeted us and the the table was set and ready for us to be seated.  Craig came out with fresh squeezed orange juice and asked us if we could spare some time after eating so we could all chat.  I was looking forward to that!  Within moments he sat before us a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit, yogurt and homemade granola which was followed by eggs cooked to our taste, homemade hashbrowns, bacon and a small skillet of biscuits.  The condiments were just as beautiful as the meal!  We ate until we couldn’t take another bite and after freshening our coffee, Carol came and sat down with us.  This is honestly when the entire experience really began I realized later.

IMG_2241

Carol is a breath of fresh air.  She has this amazingly positive aura about her and her smile just lights up the room.  Craig is a gracious and generous host who makes you laugh and feel at ease immediately.  That is a gift!  We had dozens of questions about how they got started, the history of the property and the resort itself.  Both Carol and Craig have backgrounds in the hospitality business.   Craig has worked for a few gourmet food companies and Carol is an amazing chef having taken classes with some of the top chefs in the world.  When they met, they dreamed of running their own establishment.  They had a few other bed and breakfast establishments before finding this magical piece of property.   The story is that Craig found this and within 30 minutes made an offer.  He knew right away this was the place they had to have.   Both are Hill Country proud and appreciate the history of the area, especially this area.  The original house that was on the foundation the resort now resides upon was a 2 story ranch house that had been damaged in a tornado at one point.  It sat on 100’s of acres that had been divided up by the family over the years.  The moment they saw the views and felt the spirit of the land, they knew this was the place.  It was a stretch with all the renovations they needed to make, basically tearing down the structure to the foundation and starting over.  But their dream was to create a retreat.  A magical place where people could come and feel their spirit renewed.  They want people to experience what they do, to offer them the ultimate in care and are obviously so grateful to be where they are.  It shows on their faces and in their voices.  There is an amazing amount of warmth and love that come from this couple.  It took my breath away to be honest.  So much Peace and gratitude lives in this home.

IMG_2242      IMG_2243       IMG_2246_1

As I mentioned in the first article, the resort caters to weddings and retreats (I will be doing a feature on this for the last installment).  One area that I fell in love with is the yoga patio.  Carol has so much experience in spiritual practices, traveling around the globe to learn from the masters.  She is truly a student of the spirit and freely gives all that she has been taught.  She created a place where yoga enthusiasts can come and practice their craft surrounded by this spirit of peace.  Everything planned to help with the hot Texas sun, to create a sacred space,  all geared towards maximum comfort and serenity.  Listening to her share her stories, I got goosebumps and a bit teary eyed.   If you go visit her, ask her to share with you.  They are her stories to tell, but I promise they will affect you in a way that you won’t expect.   She wants to share her love for life and the spirit with those who come to Tres Lunas and to help them find a restful and healing place in their lives…even if just for a moment.   And she is doing just that.  I can only imagine the healing she has participated in just by providing such a space.

0714161032_HDR

Our tour continued into their private quarters where I was greeted by beautiful works of art created by friends and Carol herself.  Her mother was an incredible artist and she has a few of her pastels hanging.  One of which was drawn on a piece of brown paper bag while on a picnic in those very same hills decades before.  It was of a beautiful deer found in the Hill Country.  The pastels were so soft and soothing and it looked like you could reach out and feel the softness of that creature.  Carol didn’t know that she would end up finding her home in that same countryside.  What a special gift!

0714161029_HDR

There is Carol’s office which is filled with prayer flags and a massage table, and yes, more beautiful art pieces.  Even their private quarters were designed for maximum serenity!  And I know with a resort you need a good size laundry room, but their’s made me completely envious!  So bright with windows everywhere….perfect place for Carol to paint as the laundry area only took up a portion of the huge room!

0714161024_HDR

0714161025_HDR        IMG_20160714_132133        0714161023b_HDR

Craig’s office is the ultimate of man caves!  Jason loved it!  Craig’s father and grandfather were both Texas lawmen and Craig was able to find an old jail cell that he restructured to fit inside his office as a guest quarters for family or friends!  It’s really awesome!  On the wall behind his desk hangs the head of a huge Longhorn.  Craig told us that someone had given the living animal to Carol as a gift at one time and they loved him!  He was their pet who they truly loved, and when he finally died of natural causes they donated 800 pounds of ground beef to the food bank in Mason, TX and mounted their beloved pet’s head on the wall of Craig’s office.  It is an impressive site!

_MG_2156

We talked for a good 2 hours about life, our backgrounds, our love for nature and art.  Carol and I especially found that we have so many similar feelings about our journeys in life.  I felt like I have always known her.  We all found we had so many things in common and I don’t think any of us wanted to conversation to end.  But as all good stories must wind down, so did our time there.

We left with our arms bearing gifts and our hearts filled with the brightness of new friendships.  I can honestly say we both felt renewed and so relaxed.  It was a true healing experience and one we hope to repeat in the future!  I am so grateful for the opportunity and for the compassion that Carol and Craig show to others.  It’s truly remarkable.  I promise if you make a reservation there, you will honestly be able to leave your cares and worries at the front gate.  Once you drive in, the magic begins and the spirit smiles down upon you.  It is a rarity in life to find a place like that.  I am grateful that we did.

IMG_2217

*All photos are credited to myself and Jason Locher.  Some of these were taken on my phone, hence the quality.  Look for Part 3 on weddings and products used at the resort!

Stonyfield Goodness

IMG_20160526_120349

Hey all!  This month Stonyfield challenged the Yo Getters to come up with some recipes using Stonyfield Yogurt and Nativas Naturals products.  I received the Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.  Both of these are super nutritious additions to any recipe.

Why do you want these in your pantry?  Read on…

Mulberry Berries

Mulberries are native to the Morus genus of trees and can be found in many parts of the world nowadays, but they originated in the Far East, traveling along the Silk Road from China to Turkey. Beyond their sweet and delicate flavor, mulberries are an excellent source of nutrients including iron, calcium, vitamin C, protein and fiber.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds provide a healthy dose of protein, omega fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants and minerals.

Hemp is a well-balanced vegetarian protein source that includes all of the essential amino acids. Not only is hemp one of the best veggie sources of protein, it’s easy for the body to digest and assimilate. Hemp also features plenty of other nutrients including abundant fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins and omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids.

The Recipes

I made the best dinner the other night using Stonyfield Yogurts and Navita Naturals products.  I love testing new recipes and decided instead of doing just one recipe with my yogurt, why not base an entire meal around it?

So for your enjoyment, here is what I made:

IMG_20160526_115516

Middle Eastern Inspired Chicken

I love Middle Eastern and Mediterranean style food.  The spices and freshness are so appealing and healthy.  For this dish, the spices and yogurt were a perfect match.

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken

DIRECTIONS

Mix the yogurt with the seasonings and place in a plastic bag with the chicken.

Marinate for 2 hours to overnight.

Pound chicken in the bag with the marinade to 1/2 thick and grill, saute, skewer or bake until lightly browned and cooked through.

Serve with rice or pasta and salad and enjoy!

IMG_20160526_115211

Greek Inspired Salad

For the salad I chopped up Romaine lettuce and added heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, goat cheese crumbles, chopped cucumbers and topped it with Navitas Naturals Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.  Super simple!  The dressing is a yogurt dressing I made and oh my gosh, Stonyfield organic yogurt is perfect for this.  All the flavor of Ranch without all the bad for you fat and extra ingredients!  This didn’t last the night.

Lemon-Dill Yogurt Dressing

1 cup while milk Stonyfield plain yogurt, drained for 1 hour in a strainer (save the whey that drips out for smoothies!)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

After yogurt has drained and thickened, combine everything into a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.  Great with salads or as a dip!!

And to top off the meal, a dessert using my yogurt and toppings!  These also didn’t hang out for long.

IMG_20160526_115725

French Yogurt Cupcakes

Nonstick canola oil spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup plain whole-milk Stonyfield yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Navitas Naturals Mulberry Berries and Hemp Seeds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cupcake pan with canola oil spray or paper liners.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Using your fingers, rub raw sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle help seeds and mulberries on top if desired. Bake until top of cakecakes are golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely.  Can top with homemade whipped cream if desired.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

So there you have it!  My Stonyfield based meal!  You can find Stonyfield products at most grocery stores.  The yogurt is perfect to use in recipes subbing out higher fat ingredients…we use it everyday!  Hope you enjoy and let me know what you have made with your Stonyfield products!

The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

Ice Chips Review!

I recently received an assortment of Ice Chips from Bev and Charlotte to review and am thrilled with them!  What a great way to get the benefits of Xylitol in a sweet treat that I feel good giving to my girls.  Love them!

IMG_2030

Who are the Ice Chips Grandmas?

Bev Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary have known each other since 1986.  They met in Washington state and bonded over their shared entrepreneurial spirits and love of all natural products.  Over the years they had many ideas they put into place, including all natural herbal salves and lotions.

In the fall of 2009, they were looking for a way to make Xylitol candy. They knew Xylitol was great for teeth and diabetics could enjoy it.  They wanted to create a good for you treat.  They had tried ordering a few different kinds but could not find one with the zing and the burst of flavors they wanted.  They are both grandmas and between them they have 37 grandchildren. They wanted a healthy candy that would taste good enough so that their grandchildren would gobble it the same way they gobbled sugar. Thus, Ice Chips Candy® was born.

IMG_2035

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a polyol, a sugar alcohol. It is all natural, safe for diabetics and has many health benefits.

Mostly, it is made from birch bark or corn. Ice Chips Candy uses only the birch bark Xylitol in order to avoid any chance of using Genetically Modified Corn (GMO).

What are some of the benefits of Xylitol?

  • Strengthens teeth
  • Reduces new tooth decay
  • Reduces cavity-causing bacteria
  • Inhibits growth of dental plaque
  • Stimulates saliva flow
  • Does NOT impact insulin levels
  • Contains zero net effective carbs
  • Delicious and satisfying
  • The FDA has approved xylitol as a Natural Sweetener
  • Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables
  • Xylitol is found in small amounts in the human body
  • One teaspoon of xylitol contains 40% less calories than sugar
  • Savoring ICE CHIPS Candy 3 to 5 times a day delivers maximum benefits
  • Use ICE CHIPS Candy immediately after meals or snacks
  • Recent studies have found a link between consuming Xylitol during pregnancy and stronger teeth in infants

BerryMixsm

I have to say, these little tins won’t be lasting long in our house!  The kids love them and I know they are getting some great benefits!  The Root Beer Float is my girls favorite!  I love the Peppermint.  But they all taste fantastic!

You can find Ice Chips at most Whole Foods and other health food stores.  Or you can order directly from the Grandmas!!

ic_portrait2  ic_portrait

The opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine. I only ever work with companies I support and think you, my readers, will like. Please read my full review and endorsement policy here.

An Interview With Shirley Nolan

This is a combined review and interview with someone not only very near and dear to me, but who is also a very talented writer.  I am so pleased to introduce you to my mom, Shirley Nolan Amador and her new novel, Lotus.

12525191_10206260710736940_6999763256114131315_o

My mom grew up in Indio, California during the 50’s.  Her parents were small business owners and very well known in this, then small community.  She was an avid reader and had a huge imagination.  But like for most young girls in that era, opportunity wasn’t as plentiful as it is now.  Mom had many interests and aspirations, however, as most girls did then, she married young and within a couple years was a mother…to me as it so happens..;)  I am aging myself now…ha!  She really loved becoming a mom though….:)

12651280_10153186336760916_6006194828565531790_n

I know my mother was happy with her new role as housewife and stay at home mom.  She went on the have 6 children in all, loving all of us for our own special gifts.  Putting her hobbies and interests aside, or at least gearing them to benefit all of us (she could sew a wardrobe for each of us in no time!), she did what every other mother does…she did her best.  No matter what happened in our world, mom always tried to make it seem like she was the happiest woman ever.  And I believe for a time she really was!  She certainly loves children, she is a wonderful grandmother to all our kids now!  But I also know my mom had dreams that didn’t really involve any of us.  Back in those days, to want to follow your dreams was considered in popular society to be selfish.  She grew up in an era where you took care of your husband and children, and didn’t always aspire to do more.  Those women that did were viewed by many as rebels.  That dirty word was born, feminists!  I know this caused her some dissatisfaction in life for a time. But even though she was a dutiful wife and mother, she still taught all of us to follow our dreams, no matter what that meant.  I remember her saying as long as we were happy and not hurting anyone, that was the goal.

12122770_10205443868796402_1509596601812804354_n

As times changed and opportunities opened up to women, so did my mom’s world.  After most of us were raised and on our own, she only had my two youngest sisters left at home.   So she decided to go back to school.  She worked hard and graduated with her Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies.  She started working in criminal law and was extremely good at it.  She was part of some of the biggest cases in Southern California during those years.  I was so proud of her being on the front page of several newspapers after a particular difficult and grueling case was finished.  During these years she has been threatened, even carried a small gun for awhile for protection, seen cases defeated, had her heart broken by her young clients (she treated most of them as if they were her own children), but she continued fighting for what she believed in.  This little Irish woman is tough!

10502199_10202607587571144_4292421890963234910_n

(my mom and youngest sister)

After several years and a move to Texas, she started working at a major chain bookstore.  Happy in her little town, close to her grandkids and making new friends, her love of reading and books were once again opened up to her.  She met authors, organized literary events,  and read everything she could during those years.  During this time, she felt something growing inside of her.  Something she had put away for years.  It was her imagination.  It was back and she had a story to tell.

Lotus was born through my mom’s imagination and dreams.  It is a story, very symbolically close to her own, about a young woman learning to find her inner strength and balance both her great loves…her desire to be the best mom as well as to follow her dreams.  I am so proud of my mom.  She is a true inspiration and a shining example of it never being too late to discover yourself completely.  I am proud to be her daughter and can only pray that I become half the woman she is.  Thank you mom for this gift….

And now, a short interview with my mom….Welcome Shirley….thank you so much for agreeing to do this.  Let’s dive in!

IMG_20160415_103327

Where can my readers buy or see Lotus?

Lotus is available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com as well as select B and N stores, and at my website!

Tell us a little bit about the story.

This is a story of a young Chinese woman who comes to America from China on the verge of becoming a mother. She and her young husband settle in San Francisco Chinatown and she is stalked for the slave-trade.  She is a stranger in this country and unsure of what her role is in her new life.

Give us an insight into your main idea. What inspired you to come up with the theme?

I have always loved San Francisco and greatly admire the Asian culture. I heard a story when I was a child from a friend of my Mom’s. Her mother disappeared in Chinatown and was never found. This story stuck with me.  Lotus is my version of this and similar stories.

What are you working on at the moment? Any other books in the works?

Yes, I’m working on a sequel to Lotus, it will be called Violet. I also have a children’s book that I wrote and have done nothing with yet, however I eventually will get that out and work on it. It is a story of a ranch and a horse and is based on a period of time in my own life.  Lotus took on a life of it’s own in my imagination and so had to be written and published first…;)

10334474_10202383751215375_6236914567114674206_n

Did you always see yourself as an author?

Not really, although I have always loved to write. After a career as a criminal paralegal and investigator in California I feel I have stories in my head that need to be told.

How did you do the research for this story?

I am familiar with San Francisco and have visited many times. I did most of the research on line. I researched the earthquake and places that existed at that time as well as Chinese culture and immigration.  I would like to return to San Francisco before finishing Violet for more inspiration.

Do you have any other cultural influences you are exploring for future books?

In Violet the missing girl is Korean, not Chinese.  And will pick up a few years after Lotus ends.

What are your other interests?

I have a degree in Paralegal Studies from Fullerton College. I worked for many years as a Court Appointed paralegal and investigator in California handling high profile murder cases. After moving to Texas I worked for a major bookstore for eight years. Reading is a passion of mine. I started reading before I started school and have been an avid reader ever since. I also enjoy sewing, knitting and other crafts. I love to travel and enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.

Anything else you would like to add?

Although this book was written as adult fiction, I think young girls would enjoy it. I would say 12 and older. It sends an important message to young girls on issues as trust and being aware of your surroundings.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

I have just launched my new website Shirley Nolan Amador

Facebook: Shirley Amador

Twitter:  Shirley Amador

My review

I was captivated with Lotus from the first chapter.  During the climax of the book I literally cried with worry about the fate of the main character.  I could not put the book down and read it in just a couple days.  Highly recommended!  And this isn’t just because the author happens to be my mom, but because it’s a good story!  So don’t wait….do yourself a favor and pick up a copy…

Peace!