Tuesday, May 3, 2016

7 Appliances That Changed My LIfe

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Feeding boys, cleaning up after boys, preparing to feed boys...yeah, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I am definitely not a chef...not by a long shot. But I do enjoy following recipes and creating meals for my family.

The more time I spend in the kitchen these days, the more I find myself dusting off my wedding registry appliances and adding new time savers to the mix. These seven appliances have really made an impact on my life. I love them.

Mother's Day is coming up this weekend...does the mommy in your life have all the kitchen love she needs? If not, here is a good list to start with!

1. Keuirg - I am sure we all have jumped on the single coffee cup bandwagon...and for good reason. If you are a one cup wonder or like to have a hot cup throughout the day than this little ditty is the way to go. I still have my traditional coffee maker tucked away for a post-dinner party beverage, but these days, the Keuirg is a must have for every kitchen.

2. Electric Water Kettle - Now this is not exxxxactly mine, it is my Thriving Mommy's, but I still use each morning. I am obsessed. My daily hot water with lemon, oatmeal...I mean this little thing takes seconds and produces some hot, hot water! No more waiting for the stove to get going, thank G.

3. Juicer - When I did my whole juice cleanse, this thing was literally my best friend. But these days I use it mostly for fresh orange and grapefruit juice. Since we live in the country and often get boxes of fresh citrus from our neighbor's groves, I count my lucky stars to have my trusty juicer nearby. There is NOTHING better than fresh juice!

4. Magic Bullet - Literally the new love of my life. With green smoothies being a daily staple for myself and my boys, this amazing gadget makes whipping up greens and fruit a snap. I would be lost without her.

5. Crock Pot - Who doesn't love their crock pot? These are a must for every Thriving Wife. Dinners can be thrown in before heading to work or out with the kids only to have your meal have made itself in the evening. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, drinks and even for entertaining...does it every stop? The Crock is must have kitchen essential.

6. Panini Maker - No grilled cheese will ever be the same. I am allllll about my panini maker. Caprese for me, BLT for my TH, pear and brie, I mean you can really do it all...at the same time...with this great machine. The leftovers and possibilities are endless!

7. Ice Cream Maker - This was a wedding gift that I made sure to register for because I wanted to use it when I had kids. Well, I use, it a lot...but not for my kids. I am OBSESSED with making fresh, soft-serve-ish, heaven in a spoonful, ice cream on the reg-u-lar. No more store bought junk for me. I make it, know what goes in (organic only) and can add fruit, chocolate, cookies, candy...I mean WHATEVER I want to make it meet all my sweet dreams.

The only wedding appliance that I still need to crack into is my food processor. From what I have heard once you start, you just won't stop. I am just not sure I am ready for another appliance love affair....who am I kidding, yes I am!

What appliances can you just not live without? Am I missing out on something?!!

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tips for the Thriving Hostess

I have always loved entertaining and being a hostess. While it has presented a few more challenges now that I have two little people who are in constant need of my attention, I have made a few tweaks to my planning approach and continue to thrive.  Let me also thank my wonderful Thriving Mommy and Husband who are quick to help me out when I want to don my fancy apron and focus on my guests.

If you too are a hostess with the most-est, I am sure you will agree, your table set up is key. I tend to employ the same few tricks which always leave produce a gorgeous result.

1. Dress up your table. Would you want to show up at an event naked? Well, neither does your table. Dress it up with a linen tablecloth. No, I don't mean a plastic one you got at the dollar store (unless this is some sort of kids BBQ mess hall theme you are going with), I mean a legit cloth one, preferably of the vintage variety. "Em are you nuts, where am I going to find that? I don't have time to go searching flea markets?". Easy girl, have you checked out your local thrift store? Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army? Because if you had, I am sure you would have stumbled across something suitable.  And geez...make time to go to a flea market, they are amazing!

2. Recycle, reduce reuse... linen napkins. Paper goods are all fine and good if you are entertaining the masses, but when hosting an intimate gathering bust out the linen napkins. I have a vast collection to keep my daily dinners in order and sassy selection for when the guests come to town. Show your guests how classy and Earth forward you are with your own personal set.

3. Use what you have. As we all know I have acquired a lot of wonderful things over the years. One of my favorites? Vintage napkin rings. Take a look at your inventory and see how you can get creative. Even if it is as simple as wrapped up napkins in ribbon, use what you have to add pizazz.

4. Mix n' match dishes. Not everyone has a 30 piece set of assorted floral vintage china...but they should. Take the dishes you have and mix them up. Don't feel you have to use all the same patterns, get wild and mix it up with colors, shapes and designs. It will surely add a pop of life to any table. 

5. Bring in the blooms. Ditch the stress of a fancy centerpiece and bring in basic blooms. My usual go-to is Costco as I love their roses and getting two dozen for $17 is right up my alley. Lucky for me, the roses, lavender and lilac around my home are in full force so there is no need to purchase. Use old bottles, crystal rocks glasses (as seen here), basic coffee cups or mason jars as low lying vases. Drop little bunches on the table and around where you plan on gathering to brighten any space. 

What are your favorite table settings? Any tips to share hostess to hostess?

Strive to thrive, 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Yoga for Beginners

I have yet to fall in love with yoga. Despite my Thriving Mommy being devout Yogi and how desperately I want to embrace it, I just can't seem to learn to love it.

While I admire those long and lean yoga bodies and would love to expand my horizons with meditation, I have just never reached that higher level of obsession.  I've tried time and time again to force myself to enjoy it, but my mind is always running wild and all I think about is what I am have to do once I am out of the class. In addition to feeling unfulfilled and wanting to go on a long run; I realized, I am cardio junkie through and through.

But, as my life constantly changes (enter twins and second pregnancy), making sure I get in that insane cardio isn't always an option. While I desperately want to sprint until the cows come home...I can't really do that pregnant. So this time around, gaining strength and flexibility is on the top of my list. Not to mention the calming of a busy mommy mind is something that just sounds. like. heaven.

While I would love to get away to a studio, that just isn't going to happen. So instead, when I put my boys down for their daily nap, I sneak into my bedroom that converts to workout central from 11-12pm.

I grab my beginner yoga poses, turn on my peace jams, get my oils burning and do my best to brreeaathhhheee my way through each move. While I am just starting out, I am dedicated to continuing to keep up my "practice" and incorporate my new moves a few times a week. Heck, I bet my TM would even teach a solo class just for me...I should ask about that.

What workouts are hesitant but determined to try and even learn to love?

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

DIY Baby Wipe Solution

Being a cloth diapering mommy, I love to cut down on waste. I wanted to try my hand at cloth wipes as well, but decided to limit that to diapers featuring only urine. I was toooootally comfortable going all in with disposable wipes for good ole' poop as I had no interest on washing those bits of cloth knowing what comes out of those two beasts on a daily basis.

I had my collection of glass bottles due to my obsession with essential oils and now needed a recipe that was all natural and would clean my two boy tushies in a snap. Thankfully, I found loads of recipes to meet my needs, and one even featured everything I already had at home...YES! 

With only 5 ingredients, this wipe solution was made in minutes. 

I first mixed the oils and soap, then added them to the water before transferring into my spray bottle.

Once this sweet smelling solution was mixed, I filled up my 4 oz spray bottle (I tried using a bigger bottle but the boys just wanted to play with it and ended up dropping in on the other's head...so I downsized) and had a whole second batch to throw in the diaper bag or just keep on hand as we go through a lot. 

Instead of going out to buy cloth wipes, recycle an old cotton t-shirt by cutting it into squares and there you go! After each use, I place them in a garment bag so they don't get lost in the daily laundry load. Then I shove them back into the bag I use to store them (a shoe travel bag is more than enough space and can easily fit into whatever you use for a changing station) and I am ready to go at all times!

I love this solution and knowing exactly what is in it. It smells great, cleans those butts and leaves them silky smooth from the added carrier oil. The savings on wipes alone has been astounding and I can't believe I didn't start this from the moment they were born!

What homemade solutions to you use?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When In Doubt, Talk It Out!

While it has been said that communication is at the epicenter of all good relationships, I really couldn't agree more.  Maybe it's due to my background or having a degree on the subject or just my love of talking; either way I totally support this statement.

Think about all the times you just held things in, busting at the seams to scream out your feelings, but just keep that crap bottled up.  What did it do for you?  Did it make you feel good? Probably not.

Ultimately you have some choices. You can let things that bother you go unsaid and watch them turn into resentment, creating situations of passive aggressive behavior (my personal pet peeve) or you can let everything roll of your back without a care in the world...and hey, if you can do that...PROPS to you!

Is it always easy to have a serious discussion about how you feel? No, not at all, but it is something that if not done, will most often end negatively.  It is not safe to assume everyone around you to be a mind reader and just intuitively knows what's bugging you. I cannot stand when someone is clearly annoyed and when asked, "Hey, are you ok? What's wrong?" you get the old, quiet and eyes down, "Nothing". BULL-OH-NEY.  Why don't you just say what is going on, even if it simply prompts verbal/mental diarrhea (one of my favorite mental cleansing actives too BTW).

Communication is essential for a healthy relationship to thrive; and when I say relationship, I mean ALL relationships.  That includes but is not limited to: marriages, friends, family, professional and personal.  If you don't talk out things, you may ruin perfectly good relationships simply by trying to avoid "confrontation".

Let's also clear up a bit of misunderstanding regarding that big word.  The poor word, "confront" has really assumed a negative connotation. You can just as easily confront someone in a polite way as you can in a nasty way.  Strive to keep "confrontational" communication transactions calm, cool and collected. Confront others in a way that is going to benefit all parties involved. Use "I" messages and be honest about how you feel, how you received a message and your interest in determining what was truly meant by the the other person. Most often, it was a misunderstanding of the message and can be cleared up easily.

You have to be honest with yourself and with others, especially if you care enough about the relationship to want it to grow. Identify what bothered you and ensure that you perhaps aren't reading too far into the situation (I always start here as I am a master analyzer...not a good thing mind you). If you can't seem to shake something, then just talk it out. Even if the other person doesn't agree or understand where you are coming from, hopefully there can be validation and appreciation in your effort to communicate your feelings.

What communication tactics have you found useful to keep relationships thriving?

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

5 Ways to Prepare for a Great Week

Weekends are meant for relaxing. The work week is behind you, and you finally have those couple days to just be. Weeellll....kind of. Don't get me wrong, you should absolutely enjoy it. Sleep in, go out, lounge...but don't forget another week will be in front of you in the blink of an eye.

If you dedicated some weekend time to a few "home-tasks", at the end of each work day you can come home and feel that same relaxation you enjoy all weekend. Minimal chores to do, no nagging tasks to be done, just down time. Try to schedule these "to-dos" at some point of days off to ensure the week ahead will be a smooth one.

Roses from my Costco run and lavender from the garden is always a win for me!
1. Clean house. When I was working full time, I used to love cleaning the house on Thursday so Friday after work I pop a bottle of red and just relax. I would do a little tidying on Sunday to keep the week ahead looking good, and it always paid off. Double dip tip?! Make some sort of cleaning routine your workout for Saturday or Sunday. Set aside a couple hours (if you even need that much), throw on some clothes you can sweat in, turn up the music and get working. Not only will you enjoy your sparkling home all week, but you will get in a great weekend workout too! Add some fresh flowers here and there and BOOM!

Towels and boy clothes all. day. long
2. Do laundry. I hate laundry, but having two kids means I am doing at least one load a day. If you are lucky enough to not have this insane laundry problem, then let it pile up all week and get those loads done before Monday hits. Do it at the same time you clean, or when you know you are going to be home for a bit. Throw in a load, do something, swap it for another and so on. Fold it, put it away and smile at that empty hamper.

Crisp sheets and pillow cases...YES!
3. Change your sheets. Ahhhhhh, fresh sheets. Nothing is better, nothing. Try to include a sheet change in your cleaning/laundry routine so you can snuggle up in a clean bed and wake up refreshed each Monday morning.

Delicious, ripe and locally grown fruit...I think so!
4. Stock up. Making sure that the house is stocked with food is a must for the week ahead. Knowing what you have on hand for breakfast, lunch and dinners is an immediate stress reliever. I love a full fridge and pantry before another week commences. Whether it is the grocery store or weekend tip to the farmers market, buy it, prep it and enjoy!

Sunday sunset pedicure anyone...why not?! California Summer Pink is back!
5. Get pretty. Nothing spells out a good week more then making sure you are looking/feeling good. Deep condition your hair, shave those legs (uugghh, I know), exfoliate/hydrate the skin, do your nails (or get them done if you have that luxury at your disposal), touch up your lashes...anything to start the week off with a, "DANG, I look good!"

Do you have any tips to make sure your week ahead is stress free from the home front?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How to Rock a Mom-i-form

When I became a mom I needed outfits that I could move, feed and most of all, be comfortable in. I sadly had to ditch the high-waisted skirts and tight tank for baggy boyfriends and a cotton T. But hey, that doesn't mean I let my fashion sense go to crap. I just transformed my everyday/baby chasing/errand wear into my Mom-i-form.

I have always loved a soft cotton tee. And while I often shied away from the "statement tops" screaming a message for the world, that changed when I fell in love with the millions of cute mom shirts on the market. I have built quite the collection and love being able to throw on a cute, cozy tee and still making it look good!

1. Slyfox Threads has no limit to their amazing mom-statement tees. From the deepest, most breastfeeding friendly, Mom Life V to my personal mantra, Mother of Boys, their shirts are everything this mommy on-the-go could want. Even better, if you follow them on Instagram you are sure to catch their amazing sale deals!

2. When this Crunchy Mom tee came to my attention I had to have it. It literally boasted everything I hold dear as a mommy, I mean, what. were. the. odds. I adore my Fresh Apparel Tee and have a hard time taking it off as it is the softest, most amazing shirt I have ever owned. 

3. Thanks to Riley + Co, one word says it all, Madre. This grey beauty has a wonderful scoop neck, soft feel and throws in some latin flare...Ole!

4. Slyfox doing it again!! 

5. As a mermaid myself, there was no question that this Mer-Mama tank had to be mine. The racer back is deep enough to show a lacy bralette, has a fun shimmer to its graphics while adding a pop of color to my "mom-drobe" (mom + wardrobe).  Even better? This lovely little Esty shop even has Mer-BABE shirts...AAHHHH!

Now that you have your favorite mom-tops, what to wear on bottom? Keep in mind you are most likely going to be chasing kids, cleaning up a mess, picking up something that dropped, feeding a kid or two, wiping a tushy or working hard to keep off a melt down. With that said.....

1. Most days, I go straight to my trusty boyfriend jeans. I purchased them years ago from Old Navy and will never get rid of them. Loose in all the right places, these distressed faves are perfect with a brown belt and a slouch-tucked tee. Now, that is perfection.

2. Too hot for jeans? Throw on some cut offs, a tank and hit it! I personally adore a high waisted short with a tucked in tee and when I am not pregnant, that is what you can find me rocking in the warmer weather. Thankfully, Old Navy (and my favorite thrift stores) keep me in steady supply for great prices. 

3. The dark skinny is a great choice if you are rocking a baggier tee (which I often do as I have to buy larger sizes to accommodate my abnormally long torso). You can find these anywhere and for any price. I prefer the ankle cut as opposed to the longer variety, but go with what you makes you feel the best.

4. Shoes! When I became pregnant with the twins I accepted that my heel/wedge days may be limited to date nights. Now I am in flats 99.9% of the time as I am constantly moving, chasing, and playing with two very active boys. My favorite, classy, go with everything shoes are my Tory Burch Miller's  . You can dress them up or down and they are sure to make you feel good once you slip them on. I love them so much I have multiple pairs. While they are a bit pricey, they are well worth the investment!

5. I love a good Chuck Taylor and feel I have had at least one pair since the 90's. They never seem to go out of style, are great with shorts, pants, skirts, dresses (and pregnant feet) and brighten up any look. I love my white pair of Chuck's  and wear them all the time!

6. The must have mommy shoe of today. The Birkenstock. So comfortable, so good for your body and are back in a major way! My feet were tortured after my first pregnancy and my Birks saved my life. Thank goodness my Thriving Mommy had been rocking them for aaaggeeess and was kind enough to gift me with a pair to keep me having pain free feet!

Once you tailor your mom-i-form to meet all your style needs, just throw on some accessories and you are ready to hit Target, Trader Joe's, Vons, Carters, Costco, Home Goods and every flea market/garage sale in your path! I always rock my dainty gold bar necklaces with my boy's names as well as my Stella & Dot necklace with their birthdays. Throw on my watch and bracelets with a dash of Mama & Little  teething jewelry and I am a mommy ready to take on the day in style!

What does your mom-i-form consist of? Has it changed as your kids have gotten older? I know I look forward to pulling out my non-mom friendly clothes again one day....I hope...