Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Recipe: Banana Bread


I have a pretty serious obsession with my Geena.  She is the most beautiful angel on the planet and the mother to my mommy which by default makes her the mother of a Saint.

My earliest and best memories are being saddled up to the bar of her kitchen. With my bestie right next to me, (my Poppa) we would watch as this stunning creature with white hair made our food to order at, as I like to call it, the "Geena Cafe".

Aside from her world renowned chocolate chip pancakes, she has never made a batch of banana bread I didn't like... well, she did once put nuts in it, which was exactly what she did, NUTS!

Since forever, I have stolen her recipe and now make at least at batch a week for my brood. I have adjusted the recipe over the years using vegan butter or cutting part of the sugar, it always ends up being the same amount of delicious. Whether loaf or muffins, this recipe is must have for the busy and treat loving Thriving Wife/Mommy.

So since you Thrivers keep asking for it...here it is!

 

Mix together the first four ingredients, "the wets".


Then add "the drys", one cup of flour at a time and the baking soda of course.


Throw in your chocolate chips and mix one last time.

 

Using a greased loaf pan or muffin liners and transfer the mixture. We have been doing A LOT of muffins lately.


Bake at 350 for 30-ish minutes for muffins or 1-1.5 hours for a loaf.


When the edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out smooth, remove and cool. Trust me, you will smell it when it is ready. YUMMMMO!


Quietly eat one before your kids come in demanding to try one as you politely lie and say they aren't cool yet, which is actually kinda true since you did just burn your tongue woofing one down.

Share with everyone else the next morning and know you won't get your hard working hands on another one until the next batch which will be in a few days anyway.


Well, there you have it! So easy, so tasty and so worth making weekly!

What is your favorite muffin/loaf recipe?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Laundry Room


The laundry room is what I call a "high traffic area". It is the entry way from the garage (where I have my Costco overflow fridge) and where I do loads upon loads upon loads of laundry each day. 

While I would love to completely renovate this space to meet all my clothes washing/folding dreams, that isn't going to happen anytime soon, if ever. 

So, instead I opted for little changes to make the room feel a bit more thriving for my taste. 

Because, I'm in there constantly. I do A LOT of laundry.


1. PAINT. Before we moved into our home we had it painted. Since the laundry room is really "my room" I wanted it to be more feminine feeling than the rest of my "Smoke Grey" house. I opted for a soft coral and accented it with floral patterns. One thing I do regret looking back is not having the cabinets painted when we did everything else. I would much prefer a bright white...but I am surely not going to do that myself #ihatepainting. So, for now, Classic Oak it is (trying to make it sound nicer/fancier).


2.  CEATE A CURTAIN. That dead space above the washer and dryer where cords try and hang out drives me crazy. Since I have the cabinets to store my washing supplies, I opted against installing some nice shelving (which I would have done if the cabinets were not there) and decided to add some floral flare. All you need is a shower curtain rod and a vintage sheet of your choosing. Fold and drape and done!


 

3. ADD CARPETS. Since I am a total clean freak, I hate the thought of my fresh laundry accidentally landing on the floor when transferring to the basket. Granted, my floors are also clean, but still. I added a little pop of color carpet in front of both the washer and dryer to warm up the space and keep my clothes safe from the (clean) floor.


4. CART CADDY.  I have a small corner in my laundry room that needed to be utilized. Thankfully,  I already had the perfect sized cart for the job. Sitting pretty in baby blue, this three level cart quickly transformed into a laundry caddy. Supplies on the top, step stool in the center and baskets at the bottom. Functional for daily use and made the space just a bit sweeter.



5. SASS UP SUPPLIES. Since I had my cart, I figured I might as well make my go-to supplies look a little sassier too. I used a large silver platter underneath my box of pods (I use those for my towels), jar of detergent along with a jar of baking soda. Complete with chalk labels to match!  I threw my wool laundry balls in a large glass vase and just like that, I was done.


With a few touches I feel like my laundry room isn't just a dumping ground for dirty, stinky boy clothes. Now, back to folding....


How is your laundry room space set up? Is it a little retreat or a headache?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Recipe - Sweet Honey Cornbread


Whoa man, these storms have been straight cray! Thank goodness I've been whipping up batches of delicious vegetarian chili on the regular . But, what goes better with spicy chili than sweet honey cornbread? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. So, let's complete that dinner menu with the second piece of this tasty dinner puzzle!

Grab your ingredients...


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray down an 8-inch pan with cooking spray.

Melt your butter in a large bowl and prepare to add your "wet" ingredients (milk and egg)


Whisk all the "wets" until well mixed.


Next up, gather all your "dry" ingredients (cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) and mix together.


Take that lumpy batter and pour it into the pan.

Next up, heat that honey so it is ready to pour.


Cover the top of your bread with the sweet, sweet honey.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out smooth.


Now, it is time to enjoy! Serve next to a steaming cup of chili with all the fixins' and you are sure to stay warm this storm season!


Want to make it even sassier?

Throw in some jalapeños or green chilis!

What are your favorite rainy weather dishes?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

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