Monday, February 18, 2019

Recipe - Vegetarian Chili


I absolutely love a piping hot bowl of chili with a side of cornbread on a cold day. With all the storms finally bringing some winter weather to So Cal, I knew the time had arrived to whip up a batch for the fam. 

While most chili recipes call for all sorts of meaty ingredients, I of course skip all that and stick with veggies and lots and lots of beans. I also add in a spicy SOY-rizo to give trick my carnivore husband and not lose any of that yummy chili-ness.



I tend to like my chili with an even ratio of saucy to chunky. If you prefer one over the other just adjust your beans/tomato sauce ratio and you will be good to go.

Now, to get started, dice the bell peppers and onions and sauté in a large pan or skillet over medium heat.


Allow those to cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often.


Once they have cooked for a bit add the green chiles.


Let those tasty flavors meld together for an additional 5-10 minutes, then add the SOY-rizo.


Now, SOY-rizo tends to stick together, so do your best to break it up and move it around the pan to cook evenly, another 5-10 minutes. 

Once your veggies and 'rizo are cooked evenly, take them off the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse your beans, dump them in a large pot over medium-low heat.


Next, add in the tomato sauce.


Then, take your pan of bell pepper, onion, green chile and SOY-rizo and add it to the beans and sauce.


Lastly, add your chili seasoning. If you are using a pre-packaged one, great. If you are making your own ( I use the seasoning my Magical Aunt B makes - 2 parts McCormick Taco Seasoning, 1 part Aromatica Organic Garlic Pepper, 1 part Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning) add 1/4 cup or more depending on what you like.



Give all your ingredients a good stir and let cook for 15 minutes on medium-low heat. Then, switch it over to low (simmer) and let it continue to cook, stirring every ten minutes or so.

As with most tasty pot recipes, the longer they cook, the better they taste. I typically let mine cook at least two hours so all those delicious flavors have time to emerge and blend together.

When it is eatin' time, grab some of your favorite homemade cornbread (recipe on that to come soon), scoop up a bowl and top with cheese and sour cream.

Is there anything better on a cold day?! I think not.


What are some of your favorite winter recipes?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Thursday, February 7, 2019

DIY Valentine Cards


It is nearly Valentine's Day which means it's time to get those classroom Valentine's on LOCK.   Last year, I took it upon myself to lead the charge on busting out 33 handmade Valentine cards for Clarke & J.R.'s classroom. I know it would have been much easier to buy them, but being the Thriving Mommy I am, I just felt they needed to be handmade. Lucky for the boys they cannot quite write or cut on their own...so I did the work...they helped sort candy and do the tape. The love tape.

Now I am no craft-ista, but I can cut out a heart. And throw candy on it. Using Washi tape. BAM! There you have it. Watch out Martha Stewart (yeah right).


Lucky for me, aside from the candy (we went with Starburst FaveREDs and a Reese's Love Bugs) I had everything I needed; construction paper, Washi tape, a fine tipped red marker and some scalloped scissors.


First step, fold the paper in half and cut out a heart. I am hoping you can recall that task from first grade. I know I did. I also know I am horrible at cutting, hence the scalloped scissors; they make everything look better.


I cut two sheets at a time which sped along the process and gave me two medium sized hearts per page.


In just a few minutes I had 36 hearts (I made more to account for mistakes) and was ready to start adding the font and having the boys hand me candy.


Using the "bugs", I wrote, "Happy Valentine's Day Love Bug" on one side and secured a cute little bug on the other - DONE.


On the other we wrote, "To Our FaveRED Valentine" across the center and secured a Starburst underneath - DONE.

And just like that, WE were done! Locked, loaded and ready to pass out at their party at school!
So simple, so affordable, and oh so preschool cute!

This year, the class is bigger AND I have a new baby. I think I have found our "signature" Valentine. Something we love, is quasi-healthy and personal....(drumroll)....


The Costco Organic Fruit Strip with personalized sticker!! In less than ten seconds you are ready to go!

What are you doing for the class Valentine's this year?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

10 Tips to Staying Organized


Ok, you've done it. You've watched enough Marie Kondo on Netflix that you finally started getting rid of that clutter holding you back from living your best and most organized life. 

That, or, you sat amongst all your cluttered crap and just watched in horror...and maybe cried a bit. 

Whether you did it on your own (good for you!) or decided to hire me (hopefully), good for you!

Now, it is time to STAY organized. Here are some quick and effective ways to be mindful about your mess.

1. If you get it out, put it away. Once you use it, put it back where it goes. Everything should have a place, and everything must go back to said place. No matter what.

2. If you open it, close it.  Drawers, cabinets, anything. Leave everything as you found it...closed.

3. If you try it on, hang it up. Literally, this takes two seconds. When getting ready, often things don't look right, feel right or you are on the verge of a clothes attack. Instead of letting things pile up in heaps on the floor, take little bit of time to hang it back up and put it away.

4. If you get it dirty, wash it. When you use a dish, cup or utensil, wash it and put it on your drying rack or throw it in the dishwasher, Do NOT leave things in the sink. Get in the habit of always cleaning up after you use the kitchen.

5. If don't use it, get rid of it.  If you have ANYTHING you haven't used in the last six months, get rid of it! Let it go to another home where someone will use it. Free up the space in your home for things you DO use. It is time to let go and say goodbye.


6. If it doesn't fit, donate it. Saving that mini skirt hoping you'll be able to fit into it again? Well, don't. If you have a section of clothes you save for fluctuating weight (a bin of maternity clothes doesn't count) it is time to let go. If you wear it now and love it keep it, otherwise donation pile.

7. If it's expired, toss it. Go through your medicine cabinet and pantry to ensure things are up to date. If not, toss them.

8. If it's trash, throw it away. This is a big one for me, trash. GET RID OF IT! When you open a letter, DO NOT put it back in the envelope it came in, throw it away. Wrappers, cups, packaging and everything in between. Don't just set it down throw it away.

9. If it needs to get done, do it. Make a to do list and knock it out. I always have one going and am constantly adding to it and crossing things out. Make notes of what needs your attention, where you can see it and get it DONE!

10. If you schedule it, write it down. Whether a calendar on your phone or something in your home, if you plan it, write it. This will help you keep your appointments and commitments in order.

With these easy (and often super fast) habits you will soon start to see your neat and tidy spaces stay that way. It is time to change your mindset and change your life. 

GET and STAY organized!

What other tips do you use?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Holiday Recipe - Moonshine Martini

Looking for a signature drink this holiday season? Well, look no further! We have a tasty, festive cocktail that is sure to please. This amazing recipe makes a rather large batch, so jar some up in 16 oz, wide mouth Mason jars, tie on a sparkly ribbon and you have a gift that is sure to leave the recipient feeling gooooood!


Using a large pot, bring all ingredients, (except the alcohol) to a boil, be sure to stir occasionally so that sweet, sweet sugar doesn't burn. One mixed and boiled, allow to cool. As soon as the mixture is cool, and I mean, cooooooool, stir in the alcohol. 

With your huge batch of cooled moonshine, it is time to jar it up. Store (or prepare to give as gifts) in Mason jars, each with two cinnamon sticks. The longer you let the moonshine "age", the better it is going to taste!

Now for the martini drinkers in the house, let's get to shakin'!  Pour some moonshine into a martini shaker with ice and get to mixin'. 


Using two small plates, prepare your graham cracker rim. On one plate, add some moonshine. On the other, crushed graham cracker. Dip the rim of the glass in the moonshine, then again in the graham cracker. 


With your glass prepared, pour in your delicious chilled moonshine and enjoy that martini by your Christmas tree!


What are your favorite holiday drinks? Eggnog? Cider? Do tell!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How to Thrive with Theme Night Dinners


Being a Thriving Wife/mommy is not always an easy task; but it is my truest passion. Being a home boss, working part time, managing four little boys, growing a new business, trying to teach a few fitness classes and of course running Thriving Wives keeps me Bu-Sy. But, since I consider myself pretty traditional, having a healthy, tasty meal for our family to enjoy together each night is a must.

Now, I applaud those menu wives/mommies...good for you. I cannot stick to something so rigid as I never know where the day is going to take me. I am more of the "whip something up" type which is why having a theme for each night allows me some flexibility, but to also be prepared with options that are easy to knock out. I keep my pantry/fridge stocked with basics so I can tackle any of my go-to recipes for the week.

So here it is, my weekly theme night dinner plan in addition to my circulating menu. Please note, the kids pretty much eat the same thing each week and refuse to have it any other way which makes it even easier for me!

MEXICAN MONDAY: I know, it is not "Taco Tuesday", but I won't be limited to tacos!! The week kicks off with my favorite, Mexican food. Here is some of my rotating dinner selections...


TUSCANY TUESDAY: Italian food is always pretty simple because throwing together a pasta dish takes nearly no time at all. Since we are no carb dodgers, I always use whole wheat, organic noodles. But of course, you can sub in zoodles or any sort of gluten free pasta too. And since I rarely add in meat, you can also add Italian sausage or another ground animal to keep the carnivores happy. Serve with a green salad and even french bread to round out the whole meal.


WAKE UP WEDNESDAY: Breakfast for dinner, a bad idea? I think not. The weekends go so fast and I don't feel I get to spend enough time eating the fancy breakfasts I so enjoy.  Enter Wake Up Wednesdays! Finally, a chance to eat all those yummy brunch-like meals I just don't have time for during the week.


THANKFUL THURSDAY: Tonight's menu is all about good ole' American comfort food, and well, cleaning out the fridge of any leftovers. I typically have a few things to get rid of, so the boys often enjoy what I call, "Shmorgousboard" where they have a little of everything!


FRIDAY NIGHT PIZZA PARTY: It's Friday which means it is time to celebrate with some tasty pizza! I make the dough a few hours before (so easy) then the kids start their assembly line.  I love getting them involved and they love to spread sauce and sprinkle the cheese. They choose their toppings and then I get all gourmet and fancy with the "parent pizza". Throw them on the BBQ and eat outside or pop them in the oven; either way they are delish. Serve with a green salad and you are ready to start the weekend! Here are a few of my favorites.


And there you have it. A week of themed nights that make it easy for whipping up dinner in a snap. You can incorporate any meals you like and keep rotating them through so you never get bored. Since I always have fresh fruits and veggies on hand, as long as your pantry is stocked with staples and you are never without the basics (G forbid I run out of tortillas), you are ready to go each night of the week!

When the weekend hits, I either use a different meal from one of the theme nights, try a new recipe or we order in. I have been doing this whole theme night thing for years now and have had great success. Keeps me stress free about what to make for dinner and keeps my family happy and fed!

I hope you enjoy implementing theme nights into your Thriving Home too!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My Top 5 Breastfeeding Must Haves

Breastfeeding is the most BRUTAL-FUL thing. I mean, after you have grown a human for the better part of a year and get to experience the magic of childbirth the real fun comes. Breastfeeding is not for the weak minded, let me tell you. It is a minute by minute commitment that most mommies will struggle through.

I knew with the twins it was breast or bust. I never for one second entertained the thought of formula. I actually got pretty sassy with an LC in the hospital who dropped the F-bomb.

 I sought constant support from my local Lactation Specialists, I read and researched everything I could find and asked constant questions of friends. I pumped constantly to boost supply, dealt with nipples that felt like they were being seared off with a dull machete, boobs the size of watermelons ready to explode with each breath and never, ever questioned my body's ability to provide for my babies.


I tandem nursed the biggies for just over a year and was able to donate gallons upon gallons of stored milk. Dude was the same...accept I had a whole second boob to spare! I too nursed him for a bit over a year and was given the huge honor of being to share my milk with a close friend who too was dedicated to breastmilk. It was one of the greatest things I was able to do for someone I love.

It's easy to forget how challenging those first few weeks of nursing truly are. The  honey-like colostrum requiring constant massage, milk coming in hard and fast making you sick with discomfort, the boob boulders, sand granules, fearing plugged ducts, bloody and cracked nipples, latch issues, the CONSTANT questioning that all this is normal...I mean it is no easy feat.


Now that the hard truth is out of the way, here comes the good truth.

As with everything pregnancy/birth, all that pain/discomfort is temporary. That hard work, that dedication, will (in most cases), pay off. Once your milk stabilizes, nipples turn to leather and you/baby get into your groove, there is truly nothing more amazing than being able to provide your baby with the most natural, perfectly created just for him "meals by mommy".

There of course are many mommies who really struggle and give it their all before accepting that bitter defeat. While I am no professional, I think early stress from any sort of medical or other issue can really play a role in affecting milk supply. I know from supporting close friends that the heartbreak they feel from giving up on breastfeeding was devastating.

But above all else, any mommy who loves and feeds their baby in any form is doing a great job.

Phew, with all that out of the way, let this (overly) milky mommy share my favorite breastfeeding products/supports. I would be LOST without them!!

CLICK & BUY!
1. MILKIES MILK SAVER: Obvi, I couldn't use this with the twins as both of my boobs were occupied, but with Dude and after soaking through one too many T-shirts, I saw this and immediately bought it.  I used it nonstop with him and have already been catching milk like crazy with Richie. It is so easy to use; just stick your nipple in, secure with your bra/tank and let that boob drip fill up that silicon saver.  I usually get like 1-2 oz per feeding from just sitting there. No manual pumping required and always a dry shirt!! This is my favorite thing to use, especially in the first few weeks before I start pumping because I can build my stored supply without increasing my already over supply. Just be careful when you go to pick up baby... milk tsunamis are never fun.
CLICK & BUY!
2. MADELA MANUAL PUMP: Going from twins to a single is quite a different experience.I remember stressing about what on Earth I was supposed to do with that other boob when feeding just one baby. Did it just sit there? Could the baby drain one and then the other? Wouldn't one always be super full and hurting? I just didn't get it.

Thankfully, I am a quick study. This guy was a total blessing in disguise after having Dude. Being as I have too much milk and my boobs are on the verge of explosion constantly, I needed some extra relief after each feeding. I would catch on one side while nursing on the other, then after I swapped him to the other side I would pump out the rest of that golden goodness and then following him finishing on the other side, repeat. I LOVED the freedom of not being hooked up to the electrical pump while getting in more snuggles with Dude and doing little work for lots of supply. I have already used this a bit with Richie but only for comfort as I am not trying to kick up my supply any higher than it already is!

CLICK & BUY!

3. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Book. This has often been referred to as "The Bible of Breastfeeding" and I have to say I agree. I bought this when pregnant with the twins and can honestly say I read it cover to cover during those nightly feeds where it was me, two suckling babes and the moonlight. I referenced it again with Dude and have done the same with Richie. It has everything you could ever wonder about all in one place that can be kept close at hand. We all know there are about a million questions and concerns that arise when breastfeeding, so to me, this book is a must!
CLICK & BUY!
4. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. Oh those sweet nipples. That phase between raw and leather is not an easy one. Thankfully Earth Mama has the most soothing nipple butter to ease some of that chappy, scabby process. I use it after each feed, before I use my manual pump and always before I shower. I love keeping those nips hydrated and calm...since it feels like fire torture at first with each latch. Aside from this being all natural and totally safe for mommy, another bonus is that it is safe for baby too! No more having to wipe off the lanolin from those tender feeding devices, baby can jump right on and you both can relax into a wonderful, snuggle filled feeding.

CLICK & BUY!
 
5. Earth Mama Organic Milkmaid Tea. Just because I am a milk machine doesn't mean I don't continue to support a healthy supply! As an oatmeal and tea lover, a daily dose of this amazing, organic tea does the job to keep me freely flowing. With all the right herbs straight from nature, this tea is a must have for any milky mommy's pantry.

While this is only my five most used items, there are many more things I just can't seem to live without. Nursing tanks to holster my melons during engorgement (any bralettte is just too restrictive for me), organic cotton/washable breast pads and of course my favorite breastfeeding app for the new (or always anal) mommy; Baby Connect.

And of course no breastfeeding post would be complete without sharing my two favorite sites to troll while feeding and wondering if you are doing this correctly...Kellymom.comcom for ALL the things breastfeeding. And my personal favorite timeline breakdown, The Alpha Parent - Timeline of a Breastfed Baby. 

As I enter my last breastfeeding experience with my last baby, I am soaking up every second of the good, bad, horrible and magical. I love me some breastmilk superpower and intend to live it up, pump it out and cherish this last wet n' wild ride.

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

8 Easy & Affordable FALL-tastic Decorations


With no BIRTHdays to celebrate quite yet, I am refocusing all my Thriving energy on enjoying the Fall! Now that we are nearing the end of September, if you have't decorated yet, it is high time you get started!

Here are my eight favorite and super affordable ways to sing Fall-a-lejua all throughout the house!

1. Assorted Colored Stones of Sorts. Whether marbles or jewels, big or small, anything in Fall colors will do. I have had these assorted autumn cuties for years and love that I can reuse them each season. On a platter, in a jar, sprinkled on a mantle...the list goes on! 


2. Fabric. Also something I acquired long ago, but have been so grateful to have stored away! In brown, bronze and orange, shiny and matte these signature pieces are perfect for "shwagging" any and all surfaces. With so many choices and coupons to use at the fabric store, make the tiny investment this season and you won't be disappointed when you use them again and again!



3. Sparkly Pumpkins.  When I found these minis at the Dollar Tree I snapped them up with the quickness. Something about pumpkins and glitter just really gets me going. Especially knowing it is not going to get all over my clean house! My big guy was a 50% steal at Michael's with an additional 40% off!! I mean it was practically free which makes me love it all that much more.



4. Go-To Collection of Mini Pumpkins & Gourds. I again, have had these same supplies for years and always look forward to their annual debut. Did I also mention how incredibly easy and gorgeously green all this reusing is? With a simple sprinkle here and thought- out placement there, every surface in your house transforms making it oh so Fall-tastic!




5. Throw Pillows. These are the pillows I use year round. They are well made and have lasted a very long time. I add a vintage pillow cases in the "off season", but when Fall/Winter set in they are naked and in full force! I love their shiny burgundy color and that one side is silky smooth while the other has gold accents...they are perfect in their true form from September to December!


6. Leaves. While I personally am not a fake plant/silk flower girl, I have NO problem busting out some silk leaves in the Fall. Once you buy your first bag (or bunch depending on where you go) you will NEVER need leaves again! Also, there is no "real" leaf collecting, no "real" leaf mess and when your kids help you decorate (as mine did) there are no "real" leaves to crunch!



7. Thriving Art. This addition to my "Fall collection" is by far my favorite...and the most cost effective. Since the boys and I do art sessions pretty regularly it is easy to throw in some seasonal projects. This year, using my favorite non-toxic, water based finger paint (which was a phenom investment at Target for $10) we used fall colors to do some hand prints and smears. Once they hung to dry I simply cut them out in the shape of an autumn leaf and boom! Perfect art to add to the gallery!



8. Fall Candle. My Thriving Mommy and I have yet to get around to making an Autumn collection of our DIY candles, so I head to Target for their soy candles in my favorite scents. I can honestly tell you I burn these nonstop and am obsessed with how they make my entire home smell amazing! These are a must have when you do your Fall-fromation for sure!


With my house in FALL swing inside and Halloween showcased outside there is only one thing left to do, enjoy it all and wait for my fourth little man to join in all the autumn fun!

What are your favorite Fall accents to add to your home?


Strive to thrive, 
Em