How to Easily Make a Tiered Tray Display

I love to craft. And when I can make cool things with things around the house – even better!! I love re-purposing things that were sitting in my storage room. Here is one of my favourite ways to make things once forgotten, useful again!

Making a tiered tray does not need to be a difficult (or overly expensive) process. In fact, you can get started with things you probably already have around the house in your storage room or pantry.

First you need to make the multi level tray (if you don’t already have a 2 or 3 level tiered tray).  I found 2 plastic clear trays along with some cake pillars in my storage room.  An old wine glass or candle stick also works great for the ‘pillar’.

With a hot glue gun, you will want to secure the pillar/glass/candle stick to the bottom tray where desired.  Once it is glued in place, then you will add glue around the top opening and secure the top tray. With hot glue, it should be secured within a few minutes.  TIP: if you are using two trays of the same size, make sure they are centered evenly over each other with your pillar in the middle. If your top tray is smaller, you can either centre it or you can place it more towards the back giving you more open space to display on the bottom tray.

Now the fun part – decorating. First you need a theme. As it’s almost Valentine’s Day, I went with a love/Valentine’s theme for mine. These are great to change up with the different holidays or seasons.

Gather items around this theme that you want to include in your display. Mugs, small signs, plants/flowers, gnomes and bead garlands are all great items to include. I also found a small plain wood LOVE sign that I painted with some red acrylic paint and added some white polka dots. Adding in some cute paper flowers that I had made, were another great accent.

I also decorated some signs with love themed messages using my Chalk Couture supplies. I chose surfaces that are double sided, so I can put an Easter design on the other side. Then when it’s time to switch up my display, I can just turn the signs around! 

NOTE: this only works when placing your display on a shelf or table where it’s going to be viewed from one side only.  If you are placing your tray on a kitchen island, then having something unrelated on the other side will be visable.

Arrange your items with the taller pieces/signs in the back and smaller items in front so all items are visable. Draping a garland or ribbon is a great way to accent your tray. 

There is no right or wrong way to pull together a tiered tray display. Get creative with it and have fun! 

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Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

For more information on Home Decor items, you can visit Glen Abbey Decor on Facebook or Instagram. To order DIY supplies and craft kits to make your own home decor pieces, please visit Chalk Couture.

Creating My 2021 Vision Board

This year, I decided to create a different type of vision board. In the past, I have always done the typical large bristol board with cutouts from magazines that ends up looking like a poster.

I wanted something a little different this year. I found this set of 4 white framed bulletin boards and thought those would be perfect for what I had in mind. I found them on Amazon – came in a set of 4 with an accessory pack with tumbtacks, push pins and clothes pegs. I added on some command hooks so I could easily mount them without damaging my walls.

I used some of my Chalk Couture sign making transfers to add inspirational and motivational messages to each one. Who likes a boring bulletin board? Using the white chalk paste coordinated perfectly. They are so easy to make. Apply the resusable transfer (yes they can be reused, be sure to wash after use), apply chalk paste and then peel. Beautiful designs made easy! No design to create on my computer, no vinyl to cut and no weeding of little pieces. It took me less than 10 minutes to do all four! And because the transfers are resuable, I can create over and over again on all sorts of different surfaces.

Now that I had my 4 bulletin boards, I needed to decide what areas of my life I wanted to assoicate with each. Typically when I do my vision boards, I ask the questions

  1. Is it something I want to achieve, something to improve myself or something that is an interest of mine? Or is it personal dreams like travel?
  2. Is is business related? Is this a goal for my business to achieve, something I want to do with my business, where I want my businesss to be?
  3. Is this something to improve or better my family, my home and/or my homelife?
  4. What is my word of the year? And what do I want to achieve incorporating that word?

So given those 4 areas, I allocated one bulletin board to each section: Me, Home, Biz and my word of the year Growth. I made cute little wood tags with each section (using my alphabet transfers and chalk paste to spell out each word) to identify which board was for each area.

I decided to hang my bulletin boards on the doors of my above desk storage. I used command hooks so they are easy to remove in the future if I want to take them down or put them somewhere else. This makes it easy for me to see them and also to add things throughout the year. You can also hang them on the wall in your home office, craft room, reading nook or whereever you might keep your vision board so it can inspire you everyday. These hexagon shaped boards are really nice to arrange in different layouts to make awesome wall galleries.

I’m looking forward to filling these up with my goals and dreams for 2021. Have you set your goals and intentions for the coming year? Do you have a word of the year you are focusing on?

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Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

For more information on Home Decor items, you can visit Glen Abbey Decor on Facebook or Instagram. To order DIY supplies and craft kits to make your own home decor pieces, please visit Chalk Couture.

5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Home Office for Spring

Many of us are now working from home. If we didn’t already have a home office, we had to setup an impromtu one. Having an inviting, organized and functional space is important in order to be productive.

In our home, I gave up my tradtional home office to my husband who now finds himself working from home. He needs a quiet space where he can speak with clients on the phone, participate in conference/zoom calls and concentrate.

As such, my home office has been relocated to the dining room. At first, it was definitely an adjustment, but there are some advantages too! I now have a REALLY BIG DESK as it’s now our dining room table and I’m next to a REALLY BIG WINDOW with southern exposure so on sunny days, I have sun streaming in all day.

Relocating to the dining room required me to setup and refresh my office to make it an environment I am confortable working in and to be inspired in. Here are 5 ways you can freshen up your home office surroundings for spring:

  1. Artwork – Having artwork around you that is pleasing to your eye and inspires you will help to make your space more inviting. Home office decor can come in all shapes, sizes and colours. I make my own decor using my Chalk Couture products. They are easy to use and gives me the opportunity to use my creative side (a great way to take a break). And they also turn out looking wonderful so I’m proud to display my work.
  2. Desk Decor – Fresh flowers, a desk calendar that is nice to look at, some inspriational art pieces, the list goes on. Have pieces on your desk that are not only functional office supplies but also inspire you too.
  3. Comfortable Chair – are you sitting on an old, overused chair that no longer has proper support? Maybe it’s time to invest in a new chair. You could even get a funky colour instead of the traditional black desk chair to brighten up your surroundings.
  4. Deep Spring Clean – give your current home office or a newly transformed space a good thorough deep clean. A space that is clean, tidy and organized will go a long way in helping you to be more productive.
  5. Re-Work Your Space – maybe it’s time to rearrange the furniture. Do you remember as a kid re-arranging your bedroom and then it felt like a whole new room? Simply rearranging your office furniture can make the space feel brand new. Perhaps you had your back to the window. Try moving the desk and chair so you can sit facing the window instead for a new perspective.

Doing a few small things can help you make your Home Office an inspiring place to be and a place where you can be productive. Spring is a time of renewal, its a great time to give your office that freshening up that it needs!

Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

For more information on Home Decor items, you can visit Glen Abbey Decor on Facebook or Instagram. To order DIY supplies and craft kits to make your own home decor pieces, please visit Chalk Couture.

Journey to a Half Marathon – Still Going!

It’s been about 2 months now since I started my Journey to a Half Marathon. If you haven’t read my first blog about this, here is a quick synopsis. In February 2020, I declared that I would run my first half marathon in February 2021 at Disney World. Yes folks, I want to run the Princess Half Marathon. 2021 is the year that I will turn 50 and I have never done a race like this before. Great way to celebrate turing 50!

So, I started my training and wow how things have changed in such a short period of time. With all that is going on in the world right now, it certainly challenged me to keep going in ways that I could have never imagined. Only a few short weeks after I started training, social distancing rules were brought into effect, the gym I go to was closed to keep people safe, a 5km training race I had signed up for was cancelled and a state of emergency in Ontario was declared. All things that one would think would derail my training and bring it to a halt.

But, it did not. I have a strong routine with daily habits that made it easy for me to continue making my health a priority. It just required some modifications of how is all. In fact, I’m training just as hard as I set out to, I’m just training differently now. I still do my runs three times a week around my neighbourhood. We are still able to go outside for exercise, we just must follow social distancing rules. Parks and trails are closed, but running on the streets around where I live is still ok.

Thankfully the gym I go to, “Eat the Frog – Burlington” setup “On the Go” workouts to do from home. A few weeks into quarantine life, they also introduced ‘Coach Led’ workouts via Zoom conferencing to keep the motivation going and enabling us to connect with one another virtutally. Doing cross training three times a week has been an important part of my overall training. Strength, cardio, flexibility and core workouts in conjunction with running have been great for my overall fitness. I’m so thankfull to ETF that they were able to provide us with an alternative during quarantine so my training did not have to stop.

And yes, my home gym is located in our basement arcade! Best combo ever!!! Video games and workouts!!!

To build up to running a half marathon requires baby steps. My plan had been to run a 5km race in June, a 10km race in the fall and then the half marathon in February. Unfortunately, the 5km race I was registered to run on June 6th, was cancelled. But, that does not mean I have to stop training for it. I’m sticking to my plan and along with the rest of the group that was going to run it with, we are doing a virtual race instead. On June 6th, we will each run our 5km race in our own neighbourhoods and log our time using the RunKeeper app. Then we will share our times in our Facebook group and cheer each other on. It won’t have the same energy as an actual race, but it keeps us moving and on track with our training so that hopefully in the fall, we will be able to do a 10km race all together.

In two months, I have shaved off more than 6 minutes on my 5km running time. In fact, this past Sunday, I ran 6km a minute faster than my first 5km run in February. I no longer take walking breaks during my sessions, I run the entire time. My next focus now is on pacing and speed. My goal is to run the 5km on June 6th in under 30 minutes. My current time is 37 minutes.

Exercising is one of the few things that we can all still do, even in quarantine. Keeping active and healthy is so important during this time of unknowns. It is something we can control, albeit with some modifications. When the rest of what’s going on in the world is out of our control, it’s more important than ever to focus on the things we can control.

What are you doing to keep active and healthy?

Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

5 Tips for Working from Home – From a Long Time Entrepreneur

With these uncertain times, are you suddenly finding yourself having to work from home and not sure what to do? It’s a big adjustment for anyone, especially if you are used to a corporate 9-5 environment and suddenly that has changed. I spent 15 years in the corporate world on Bay Street in Toronto. 15 years ago, I started my own business and have been an entrepreneur ever since.

Was the swtich easy? NOT AT ALL!!!! Aside from the challenges of starting a business, the biggest adjustment was working alone at home. And this was back in the day before social media and video conferencing was widely available.

Now, chances are, if you are finding yourself working from home during this time of #socialdistancing and #selfisolation you may not actually be home alone and also have the challenge of a sposue and kids around too. All factors that can have a big effect on your normal routine.

During this time of unknowns and living hour by hour and day by day, here are 5 tips to help you adjust to working at home and keeping a routine based on my own experiences.

  1. HAVE A ROUTINE – this is by far the #1 thing to keep in mind and will make the transition easier. Like you do at work, have a start and end time to your day. I call them my “office hours”. Schedule a time for a morning and afternoon break as well as a lunch break. You would do those things at the office, so do them at home.
  2. HAVE A SEPARATE WORKSPACE/OFFICE – If you are not able to have a separate home office, then dedicate a room to be that space for now. A dining room table is an excellent option as that tends to be a room that is not used everyday for dining (most families eat in the kitchen). Also, sitting at a table with a good comfortable chair is better than sitting on your couch. Having a separate workspace/room allows you to “leave” that space when it’s not working hours. If you have others in your home (spouse/kids), then set out your ‘working hours’ with your family and your break times so they know that you are ‘gone’ to work. This will also help to set boundaries for your family so they know when it is work time and when it is play time. And take some time to set it up with your favourite things you like to have around you while you work. Family photos, plants, flowers, inspirational signs…make it your own.
  3. TAKE YOUR BREAKS IN ANOTHER ROOM – Have lunch in the kitchen with your family (if others are at home). Don’t eat at your desk. Or if it’s nice outside, sit in your backyard. If you are still able to be outside, go for a walk around your neighbourhood.
  4. CONNECT WITH COLLEAUGES ONLINE – Everyday have a team meeting with your colleagues over a video call. Zoom or Facetime are excellent free options to use where you can see those you are chatting with. It will also give you the social interaction that you will be missing from the day to day office life.
  5. GET DRESSED! – Don’t wear your PJ’s to work at home. Getting dressed will dramatically change your mood and attitude. If you normally wear a suit, you can do without that, but put on casual Friday clothes. You will be more productive.

Having a positive mindset during this time will help make the adjustment much easier. Don’t look at it as an inconvenince, but rather think of the positives. You get to spend more time with your family, you can have lunch with your kids and spouse, you don’t need to commute, you have more time in the morning before starting your day, your workday finishes earlier. These are just a few of the positives that are a result of working from home. As an entrepreneur, I am grateful for these benefits each and everyday!

Do you have any other tips or tricks that are working for you as you adjust to a different way of working? Or have a question about how to cope with working from home? Share them in the comments below. Let’s all help each other through these times of unknowns.

Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

Simple 4 Ingredient Breakfast Smoothie Formula

Smoothies are my absolute favourite morning breakfast item. And I don’t mean the chalky tasting ones that come out of a package. I mean a good for you, awesome tasting fresh smoothie made with real ingredients.

You do not need to be a chef or even remotely talented in the kitchen to make them either. All you need is a blender and a few key indgredients. Then the possibilities will be endless as to what you can create.

First you need a blender. You do not need anything fancy nor do you need a $500 model to blend your ingredients. I have a Cusinart brand one that I paid about $75 for. I’ve been using it for 3 years and it’s still going strong!

4 ingredients for a great smoothie!

Here is my formula for a great smoothie:

  • First a banana. I find without adding a banana to my smoothies, they don’t have the same smooth consistency. It’s not a deal breaker, and I will make one without when I don’t have any on hand. It’s just my personal preference for taste and consistency.
  • One Cup of Fruit. I prefer to use frozen fruit as then it makes my smoothie cold. I do not like the taste of warm smoothies – yuck! And I then do not need to add ice. I buy the large 2.75 kg no name brand bag from Loblaws/Fortinos/RCSS for about $12 and it goes a long way! My favourite is the ‘Fruit Blend’ which has peaches, pineapples, strawberries and grapes.
  • 1/2 Cup of High Protein Plain Greek Yogurt. Any brand will do. I personally just look for one that is on sale! And has low or 0% fat content. Using this vs a regular low fat or fat free yogurt will make you feel full for longer and more satisfied.
  • 1 Cup of Almond Milk. Or any other type of milk (cocounut, cashew, soy, regular milk), whatever your choice is. I personally like the taste of the almond milk and it combines well with the other ingredients. Plus it’s good for you too!

And then I blend it all on high for about 30 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

You can then switch around your ingredients to make all sorts of different combinations. Try mangos, berries, cantelope, melon, oranges….the list goes on for fruit options. You can also use flavoured yogurts instead of plain and try different milk products.

And if you really want to amp up your smoothie into a ‘Power’ smoothie, look at adding things like; seeds, nuts, nut butters (peanut butter is a fave for me!) or dark leafy greens. I personally am not a fan of spinach or kale in my smoothies, but many do like it. I prefer to keep my leafy greens for a salad!

Do you have a favourite smoothie ingredient? Share it in the comments below!

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Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

Top 5 Things to Do In Oahu – When You Only Have 3 Days

If you only have a few days to spend in Oahu (island where Honolulu is), then you will want to maximize your time and see some amazing sites and have a great time. The island is so beautiful with so many things to do and see, you definitely can spend weeks here and still not see everything.

Sunset on Waikiki Beach

Last month when we travelled to Hawaii, we decided to split our time between two islands (Oahu and Maui) as it was our first time visting. So, that gave us 4 nights and 3 full days that didn’t invlove travel to get out and explore Oahu.

Here are my top 5 things you need to see and do when in Oahu and only have a short time to visit.

View of Waikiki Beach from a top of Diamond Head

#1 – Visit Diamond Head Park. You will notice this large hill/mountain right off Waikiki Beach. It’s the tall pointed mountain on the coastline looking to the north east when standing on the beach. It is an old dormant volcano and you access the park from the west entrance off Diamond Head Road. The parking lot and main entrance is right in the middle of the crater. Such an awesome feeling to be standing in the middle of the field looking all around you at the vast size of the crater. If you are physically able, take the time to hike to the top. The first third of the trail is a paved path. Beyond that, you will be on dirt trails and climbing over rocks and some steep staircases. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the top. The view is worth the climb!

View of Diamond Head from the air

TIPS:

  • Arrive early. There is limited parking and if the lot is full you will have to wait in a que line for a spot to open. Other advantage to arriving early is it won’t be as hot (good to know if you are planning to hike to the top)
  • Bring water. After the gift shop, there is no where to get water as you hike to the top.
  • Bring sunscreen. The sun is very strong!
  • Wear comfortable shoes. The hike up to the top is not suitable for flip flops.
Hanauma Bay

#2 – Swim and Snorkel at Hanauma Bay. This is a national park and you will have to pay admission to enter the park ($7.50 per person plus $1 for the car), but it’s worth the stop. If you are not going to go swimming/snorkelling, you can just pay the $1 for parking and see the view from above. You will not be able to access the beach without paying the admission fee. You also have to watch a 15 minute mandatory video about safety of the reefs and the protective measures that have been put in place before you can head down to the beach. If you have your own snorkeling equipment, bring it. You can rent masks and fins on the beach. The snorkleing is wonderful and you can see so many beautiful fish only a few feet from the beach.

TIPS:

  • Just rent the mask – no need for fins. The water is so shallow, you just float anyhow.
  • If you are a family of 4, just get 2 sets of equipment. It’s $12 per mask to rent. We went out in pairs and took turns. That way your stuff is not left unattended on the beach.
  • Bring food/drinks/water with you. There is no snack bar on the beach and its a very LONG walk back up the big hill to get to the snack bar.

#3 – Visit the North Shore / Haleiwa. The small town of Haleiwa is famous for it’s surfing conditions. Many competitions are held here and if the conditions are right, you will get to witness pretty massive waves. It’s fun to sit on the beach and watch the surfers. There is a shopping area as well on the main street (Kamehameha Hwy) with a good variety of shops offering clothing, souveniers and food.

TIPS:

  • Take the highway along the east coast up to the north shore. The scenery is stunning with many interesting places to stop along the way (that drive alone is a whole other blog post!).
  • Take your time driving there and stop at some of the beautiful beaches along the way.
Site of the USS Arizona wreckage

#4 – Visit Pearl Harbour. Even if you are not into seeing historical sites, I do recommend you alot 1/2 a day and visit. The experience of being in the memorial is a profound one. It really does hit you with the magnitutde of what actually happened when you are standing in the memorial.

TIPS:

USS Arizona Memorial
  • If you are short on time, just do the free tour. The free tour is great. It includes access to the two museums, a 15 minute film and a boat ride out to the USS Arizona Memorial with time to splend reflecting.
  • Arrive early to get your free tickets. They only give out 1300 tickets per day and once they are gone, they are gone. We arrived at 10:30am and were given tickets for 1pm. We opted to trade them in for 2:30pm and we went to go do something else first and then spent the afternoon on site.
  • Parking is free, but you most likely will have to walk quite a distance to the main entrance. Best to drop off members of your party who need assistance and then go park your car.
Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in distance

#5 – Waikiki Beach. Our condo that we rented was in Waikiki Beach so we were lucky to be immersed in city and night life. Kalakaua Avenue is the main road that runs paralell to the beach. This is the “5th Avenue” of Hawaii. All the brand name and high end boutiques can be found here along with lot’s of other shopping, restaurants, bars and all the big hotels. Even if you just want to go for a walk and people watch, the area is always busy, no matter the time of day!

View of Waikiki Beach from our condo balcony

TIPS:

  • Walk through some of the hotels. Many of them are joined to one another with walk-ways. Great too if you need to find a restroom or just need to access some wifi!!
  • Look for bars with happy hours. Almost all of them offer some sort of happy hour and the drink deals are great.
  • Watch the fireworks. Every Friday night, fireworks are set off from near the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort. Best place to watch is on the pier at Fort Derussy Beach Park (next to the Outrigger Reef Beach Resort). Check online for start times. We were there in early February and the start time was 745pm. We arrived to get a spot to sit at 715pm.

There were so many things to do, we didn’t even get a chance to see everything. I would have loved to play a round of golf (there are so many beautiful courses), but we ran out of time.

Hope your first (or next) visit to Hawaii is amazing. If you are spending time on Oahu, hope you get to enjoy some of these great sites. If you have visited before, what were your favourite things to do? Drop me a comment below and let me know!

Eatch for my next blog where I will highlight my top 5 picks of things to do in Maui.

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Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

My Dream Trip to Hawaii – My Vision Board Became Reality

Hawaii…..sounds amazing doesn’t it? It had been my dream trip for a long time. I longed to see the beautiful beaches, the jaw dropping volcanic mountain scenery and the massive waves that surfers love. Two years ago I put a picture of a Hawaiian beach that I cut out of a magazine on my vision board and three weeks ago, it became a reality.

Back in September 2019, my husband and I decided we were finally going to make the trip as a family (we have two teenages aged 19 and 15). We are both in our mid life years (he is 50 and I am 48) and the time we have where our children still want to travel with us is limited. So we decided now was the time. We watched the cost of flights over the course of a couple weeks and when we saw a price we were good with, we booked. Now only 5 more months to wait…..

Our Hawaiian trip was 10 days total. We decided to split the time between Oahu (Honolulu) and Maui. The first 5 days on Oahu and then 5 days on Maui. I will focus the first few posts on our time on Oahu and save our Maui experience for another time.

Coast of Oahu

Fast forward to January 30, 2020 and the four of us were onboard our flight and headed to Honolulu. But not a direct flight. The rest of my family does not like being on airplanes for long periods of time, so we did the trip with a stop in Denver for and hour an a half. Just enough time to go for a walk, stretch our legs and get something to eat. 7 hours later, we were flying over the coast of Oahu about to land at the Honolulu airport.

The one thing I noticed immediately is that most of the airport is open air. I guess when your average temparature is 26C, there really isn’t much need for walls and windows, unless in secure areas!

We picked up our rental car. We got upgraded to a Jeep which at the time we thought was cool, but as we drove out of the car rental garage we saw a sea of Jeeps parked – rows and rows of them! And there are tons of them on the road, so the upgrade wasn’t as exciting as we initially thought. My advice, book a smaller class car. Chances are you will get upgraded as walking through the garage, I really didn’t see many small cars!

Off we started on our way to our condo in Waikiki Beach. The one thing I noticed immediately was the landscape. Ocean on one side and volcanic mountains with houses built into the side of them on the other. Breathtaking views no matter where you looked. I was fascinated that the houses didn’t slide down the steep inclines and marvelled at how they were built in the first place. Want to get a good workout if you live in those neighbourhoods? Just go for a walk down (and then back up) your street!

Balcony view of Waikiki Beach

We chose to rent a condo for this trip so we could have our own space and be able to have breakfast in before heading out for the day. Also, a condo turned out to be a better deal as it also had parking included, which was a big plus since we had a rental car. Many hotels charge $30+ USD per night for parking in addition to your nightly rate. Our condo was in Waikiki Beach just a few blocks from the beach. We had a great view of the ocean from our balcony.

So upon arrival and after now being up for 15+ hours and travelling for the better part of a day, we were exhausted and hungry. Still feeling like we were on EST, it felt like 8pm, but was in fact only mid afternoon. Hawaii is 5 hours behind our time zone, combined with getting up at 3am to be at the airport for 4am, suffice to say we were tired! But I do have to say, the time change going there was much easier to adjust to than coming home. We dropped off our stuff, freshened up and headed out on foot in search of food.

A friend of ours recommended a little place called ‘Surf n Turf Tacos’. We looked it up on the map and it turned out to be about 3 blocks from our condo – just a short walk! We arrived and were amazed at the size of the place, just a tiny hole in the wall kind of spot where you just know the food is going to be good. We proceeded to order a mix of tacos, burritos and quesadilla and took up a spot on the picnic table outside to satisfy our grumbling stomachs! Food was definitley good, but a bit on the pricey side. $75USD for our meal (with no alcohol) – which rivals the cost of many sit down nice restuarants. My recommendation would be to just stop in for a snack mid day and share a quesadilla or two. Save the big spend for a nicer restuarant.

We got our second wind (or more like our 3rd or 4th as by this time as now it felt like midnight!) and set out for a walk around before watching the sunset on the beach along with some traditional Hawaiian Hula dancing. Shortly after, headed back to the condo to bed to rejuvenate and gear up for the exciting days ahead.

Watch for my next post where I share our Oahu experiences and the must do places to visit and great resturants to try.

Until next time….Aloha!

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Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

Journey to a Half Marathon Has Started – Day 1

It just got real. I am officially training for my first half marathon. Yesterday, I did my first outdoor run. The weather was absolutely glorious for an outdoor run. I live in Canada and, well, it’s winter, so the days of bright sunshine and 10C days are few and far between in February. So, knowing that, I took full advantage of the opportunity. I put on my running shoes, loaded up my playlist on my IPhone and headed out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I haven’t been working out. I’ve been indoors all winter exercising away. But running outside is completely different than running on a treadmill. So, if I’m going to work towards this goal of mine to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2021 (and check out the cool medal they give out, gotta admit, I really want one of those!!), then I needed to get started OUTSIDE!

As I am working my way up to the half marathon, I am starting with a 5km race on June 6th and then a 10km race in the fall. Baby steps people. You just don’t go outside on day 1 and run 21 kms! I also have NO IDEA what my current pace is or how long it will even take me to run a 5km distance, never mind 21 kms!!

So Day 1, I downloaded the Runkeeper app. This app is great. It tracks your pace, time, distance and even maps out the route you run with markers. Game changer for me. I now know how fast (slow) I am going and I have a benchmark to measure myself against.

Off I went, music playing, running app tracking me and I now had to figure out how far I could go without over doing it. Since it was my first run, I opted to go with 3 minute run segments followed by a 1 minute walk. I was able to do that comfortably on the treadmill, so I thought that would be a good place to start. The intervals worked great and it did not completely exhaust me nor was it too easy (part of the route was uphill and going against the wind, just for a challenge!!).

So how did I do? Well, I finished my 5kms (3.1 miles) in 42 minutes. Not too bad for the first day out and walking part of the way. My goal is to work on getting that time below 30 minutes total and to run the entire time, only doing a warm up and cool down walk.

I will be running 3 times a week, each week making the running interval a bit longer until I can run the whole distance with no walks.

I would love to hear your running tips! Drop me a comment about things that worked for you.

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Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.

My Morning Routine – How It Sets the Tone for My Day

Have you ever woken up late, jumped out of bed, quickly got ready and dashed out the door? How do you recall feeling? I know when I start my day like this, my entire day is “off”. I feel rushed and disorganized, that feeling like I am forgetting or missing something. And I’m pretty sure my scattered attention is apparent to others as well.

How do I avoid starting my day on the wrong side of the bed? It’s all in the routine. And trust me when I say, if I don’t start my day with my regular routine, I feel it for the rest of the day!

Everyone’s morning routine will look different. It’s important to find what works for you. To give you some ideas, here’s a look at a typical morning for me. Not everyday will be exactly like this – things do come up, but I do try to stick to it as closely as possible.

Wake Up: 530am (yes, EARLY!!) Trust me, you get used to it!!!

Exercise: 615am – either I’m at the gym – my personal preference is a small boutique gym doing a coach led session for an hour or I go for a run. Bottom line, is I get up and MOVE my body!

Gratitude: 730am, DAILY, EVERY DAY, NON-NEGOTIABLE. Yes, every, single, day I take 10-15 minutes to make note of 5 things I am grateful for from the previous day. Reflecting on things that made me happy, that I appreciated, no matter how small, help me to set my day off on the right foot and in the right mindset. Over time, you will begin to notice the little things around you that make your life a better place, it doesn’t always have to be some big event. There are many ways you can do this. In a notebook, a journal, on your phone, however you choose to write down your thoughts. I personally use the “Start Today Journal” by Rachel Hollis as I love the way the pages are laid out for each and everyday. Her book also has me write down my 10 goals that I want to achieve. The thing to note is that you write them as if they have already happened, thus training your brain to think of it as a positive, not something elusive that you can’t attain. For example, the first goal I write down is ‘Ran a Disney 1/2 marathon.’ Yes, I am working towards that and it is going to happen in February 2021 (you can follow more on that over the next year on future blogs!!). Bottom line – show and make note of things you are grateful for everyday and it will help you achieve your goals.

Morning Walk with my son: 8am Unless I have a morning meeting or event, I walk with my son to school every morning. Yes, he is in high school and no, he does not need an escort to school. And I recognize that he doesn’t want his mom walking him to the front door of the school – that’s just not cool! Don’t worry, I turn off at the lights a couple of blocks before the school and continue on my way around the neighbourhood. This is my 1:1 time with him where we get to talk. Often when he comes home from school he is tired and drained from the day. He doesn’t feel like talking and I don’t blame him. Who feels like telling stories about their day when they get home. But, by spending time together in the morning, he is awake and fresh to start the day, thus the conversations are more productive. Win Win for us both!! And as a bonus for me, I get another 3-4000 steps on my FitBit depending what route home I take.

Shower, Dress, Breakfast: 830am Time to get ready to start my day. Even though I work from home, I get dressed. Putting on clothes that you can go out in automatically makes you feel more productive. Wearing PJs to your basement office, not so much!

At 9am, I grab my cup of tea (in my new fave Hawaii mug bringing back memories of a great vacay) and settle in to start my day.

Yes, weekends area bit different, but I do still get up earlier than the rest of my household and do some form of exercise as well. And that quiet time with a good cup of tea and my journal, is sacred time for me on the weekend. And a lovely way to ease into the day!

I would love to hear what your morning routine looks like. Or are you not a morning person and looking to become one? It is possible, but does take time. I wasn’t always a morning person, but after some hard work and being diligent, it has now beome my way of life and made a huge difference to my overall well being. Don’t give up, if you are trying to change your ways. It takes time. For me it was a full 90 days to get into a routine that I look forward to and I miss when something gets in the way.

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Amber Dinda is wife, mom of two teenagers and a serial entreprenuer. She has embraced the mid life years as an opportunity to enjoy and explore all that life has to offer and not approach mid life as a crisis. You can follow Amber’s journey and experiences by subscribing to her blog and connecting with her on Facebook or on Instagram.