Wednesday, April 18, 2018

{Guest Post} Oily Spring Cleaners for the Thriving Home

Spring is here which means it is time to GET CLEANING! Last week we were getting let's get brewing some natural, sweet smelling supplies!  My Oily SIL is back sharing her favorite recipes to help you get started.  Let's do it!

Hello again, Thriving readers! I'm excited to be back and share more tips on how to bring essential oils into your home. This time, let's start with your cleaning routine!

Last time, I shared my favorite all purpose cleaner made with only water, vinegar and the fabulous essential oil, Thieves. I only hope you remember how all those "natural" commercial cleaners, weren't all that "natural at all. Today, I am going to share my favorite, homemade cleaning products for around the home. Not only are these products safer, work better, smell better and more cost effective but they also make cleaning simple! 

ALL PURPOSE For instance, this all-purpose cleaner...I use it on everything! Kitchen counters, bathroom counters, sinks, tables, toilets, showers, the floors when I mop, you name it. My kids love to help me clean (hooray!) and I don't have to worry about the chemicals they're being exposed to when handling the cleaner or touching the freshly sprayed surfaces.  Double win for this Thriving Mommy! 
Now, my go to glass and mirror cleaner. I always suggest starting with glass spray bottles (especially if you're using any citrus oils as they can leech the plastic).  If you aren't in the mood for investing in a collection, you can just go to the store and buy a glass bottle of club soda (with a standard size mouth), make yourself a drink...(or dump it out), and screw on a nozzle from an old bottle of cleaner. Works like a charm! Then whip up the recipe below and you are set! Y
ou'll have sparkling clean, streak free glass... and best of all, it smells great!


Next up, carpets. Have you looked at what's in that commercial carpet deodorizer you buy?  Be prepared to be horrified. Here's an easy replacement to keep your carpets fresh and not stress over what your family is breathing. Some oils I like to add are Lavender or Purification. Simply store in an airtight container (mason jars work great!), shake well before each use and sprinkle over carpets before vacuuming.  You can even poke holes in another lid and swap it out when you use your cleaner to make sprinkling easy!

Hard soap scum driving you crazy? Here is a great, quick, one use scrub recipe. This is intended to be used right away, so whip it up, scrub it down and watch your shower sparkle! If you want to store some for next time, make it the same as the carpet cleaner and then add the water to the specific amount listed. Don't forget to test a small spot for possible scratching before using. Once tested, use a soft brush or cloth to clean any desired scummy surface.

Who needs Goo Gone when you have Lemon oil?! I always get so frustrated when price tags and stickers leave that residue behind. Not anymore,  just put a drop on a q-tip or cotton ball and rub that goo right off!

Not sure if you've seen, but there's some pretty scary information about air fresheners and candles out there. Previously, I was an avid candle burner but now, my diffuser is constantly freshening up our home with wonderful, safe scents. Purification smells like citrus heaven and is great for neutralizing odors. My favorite? To diffuse it in the kitchen. Another great trick to freshening up your garbage cans, is to put a couple of drops on a cotton ball and set in the bottom. You can even place these cotton balls in the vents of your car, smelly shoes, really, anywhere you want to freshen up the air!

As you can see, the possibilities are truly endless when it comes to transforming your home with essential oils and getting ready for that Spring Cleaning...ok, all cleaning!  I can't tell you how much they have changed my family's life. I have such peace of mind knowing that I'm on my way to creating a healthy environment for my family to thrive in!

I'd love to help you get started on your new and improved cleaning routine! Getting started with basics is my speciality! Plus, I promise I won't be creepy and sales-like...Em can vouch for me!

Email me at and I would love to help you get started.

Thank you Nat!!! Let me say, I use ALL of these, love them and ask Nat about 1 million questions a day regarding oil usage...she is the best! 

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How to Prepare for Spring Cleaning

I love to clean. I look forward to it, it makes me feel good and I am open about how anal I am.

From an early age I learned how to do something "the right way". Rushing through and trying to cut corners didn't fly in my house. My mommy would make me do it again...and again if needed.

I was taught when cleaning you had to move everything, get underneath and work from top to bottom.  I developed a deep passion for order and love a dust free, fresh smelling, counter wiped, vacuumed/mopped home.

Is that so wrong?

I can honestly say Spring is one of my favorite times of year, just because I love any excuse to organize/clean. I mean an entire season that dedicates itself to gutting closets, dumping drawers and redecorating rooms? I am IN!

With Spring upon us, it is time to make a plan.  When creating a cleaning routine, it is important to break down what needs to be done daily, weekly and monthly.  If anything, start with the basics; cut down on clutter and always leaving each room at "start".

Feel free to save/share our handy printable cleaning plan below!

free printable daily weekly monthly cleaning plan

  • Make the bed
  • Put dirty clothes in basket, clean clothes away...start a new load.
  • Wash dishes and put away or in dishwasher
  • Wipe down counters in bathroom and kitchen
  • Wipe down stove after cooking
  • Rinse out sink
  • Put all "clutter" away (keys in basket, wallet in your purse, remotes in bin...)
  • Leave every room at "start" at the end of the night
  • Sweep/mop (that is dependent on if you are a shoe-less household like my own, have dogs or just like to be barefooted and not have things stick to the bottom of your feet...yuck).
  • Dust
  • Sweep/mop/vacuum (don't forget to move things around and get UNDER!)
  • Laundry (I do mine daily, but I have lots of littles)
  • Change sheets
  • Scrub bathtub/shower
  • Scrub sinks
  • Deep clean toilets
  • Replace all towels (if not done already, I do mine every two-three days)
  • Dust blinds and windows
  • Dust baseboards
  • Clean ceiling fans
  • Reorganize closets and drawers as needed
  • Wash quilts and large bedding
  • Reorganize fridge, throw out old/expired foods and wipe down shelves
  • Clean out recycling/garbage cans
  • Wipe down cabinets and switches
How to start? TRY and do at least some of these. I would start with cutting out clutter. It is the Devil's handiwork.

Now, while this surely may seem daunting to some, I assure you even if you make a small plan, it is a good one. Take on the season and get cleaned up for the warmer weather ahead.

Trust, you will feel like a million bucks when you are done!

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

5 Ways to Get Those Early Morning Workouts DONE!

I have never been much of an early riser and I have definitely never been a sweetheart in the morning, (my TM can verify the "morning monster syndrome"). When it comes to waking up, I can pretty much make up any excuse to sleep in longer...even 20 minuets seems like a lifetime. 

While I tried adding in my workout during the day, I noticed I was always stressing about when it would actually get done. If it was during nap, someone would go on strike which means I couldn't focus on me and therefore was super annoyed. I tried to do it at night after the kids went to bed, but by that time I just want to sit for a minute...or go to bed.

One day I just decided enough was enough. I needed to get up in the wee morning hours, while the kids were fast asleep and just get it done. I knew from my previous experiences with early morning workouts (pre-kids when I went to cycle class at 5 am 3 time a week) that it was a total day changer. I always felt amazing after, alert, alive and SO accomplished. That and I felt like I had SO much extra time on my hands not having to stress about how to squeeze in a sweat session. 

I know what you are all thinking, "Em, you cray. There is NO way I am waking from the few hours of sleep I do get, to get  up, in the dark mind you, and workout". I get that, I really do. But, I assure you, if and when you make the choice to do these early workouts, you won't regret it. Not only is there the mental weight lifted about when you are going to make time for your healthy self, but you start the day off feeling energized and ready to take on anything.

1. Have a plan:  Know what you are going to do. Don't just plan to wake up and wing it, uh-uh. You will no doubt blow it off in a sleepy haze. Whether it be run, abs assault, tushy toning, power hour...have a plan. There are a ton of quick and effective workouts to choose from, so decide and commit. If you need an entire workout plan to stick to with and a no-brainer approach, then try Daily Burn. Great program schedules to try and it is free for 30 days!

2. Lay it out: Once you know what you are going to do, have all your supplies in your fitness space. If you are going to lift, get your weight set out and ready to go. If you are running, set your shoes by the door with your hand weights and tune belt (if you use those items as I do). Also, place the clothes you are going to wear in plain sight. That way, you can roll out of bed, throw them on, brush your teeth and GO! There is no greater shame than picking up all that healthy preparation greater shame.

3. Determine motivation: What will it be? Your favorite coffee after working out? Making and enjoying your go-to veggie scramble in peace? Getting a manicure after 4 early morning workouts? Whatever will motivate you, focus on it. Decide what will get you out of bed and active a few days a week and continue to look forward to whatever will do the trick. For me, it is drinking my favorite decaf/abeulita treat while eating a tasty post-sweat breakfast in absolute utter silence...and eating suuuuuper slow for once!

4. Set alarm(s): The more the better in this case...heck, put one across the room to force your lazy butt up for all I care, just GET UP. I have a bedside, phone AND Fitbit alarm, #boom.  When the three won't quit, I know it is time to get up or be guilt ridden and self loathing the rest of the day. Now that I have been doing this for months. I even naturally wake up at 4:23, hop out of bed EXCITED (yes that's right, excited) to workout...I never thought waking that early would have me excited. Never.

5. Get up and get it done: Do it for G sake. Get up, knock it out and feel the immediate benefits. Once you get going and those endorphins take over you won't regret your choice. You will be energized all day and ready to take whatever comes your way. Start stress free and look forward to the opportunity to exercise your mind and body before taking on the world. It takes 66 days to create a new habit, take it one day at a time and in a few months you too will be pumped to get up, get it done and be freeeeeeee all day! Plus, you will be amazed what you can get done when the kids are still sleeping!

Are you ready to make early morning workouts part of your weekly routine?

(PS: Follow Thriving Wives on Pinterest to catch all of my favorite fast, at home, start your day off right workouts!)

Stive to thrive, 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mother of Boys...Again!

Apparently, one should not write off "it will never happen for us", because just when we were in no way shape or form expecting happened!

After two years of heartbreaking disappointments, one year of tests, trials and emotional decisions we decided to go through IVF to get our first boys.

Fast forward 18 months, I went through IVF again and got pregnant with our third boy.

Fast forward 15 months, I stopped breast feeding....and we discussed what was next. Even though I had always seen myself with four, my husband was perfectly content with three. We had the same conversation about 100 times (mostly because I basically needed him to say "absolutely not" before accepting it.

But, I also knew I couldn't go through IVF again. It was hell on my body and to be frank, I felt too old to go through it again.  I had three healthy, wonderful boys and they were enough. I accepted it, we were done.

I didn't worry about when my cycle would start up again, I knew my hormones were balancing out and my body was getting back into the swing of being free from people living in it or surviving off it.

The big question...How did I know? 

Well, I have had three bloody-ish noses in my life. One when I was pregnant with Clarke and J.R, one when I was pregnant with Mac and one when I was pregnant with this little man. While I had one in late December, my husband assured me it was just he weather changes. That made sense, the weather was rather odd lately...back to my sparkling rosé.

Mid January...again with the bloody nose. Enter also unexplainable exhaustion and a causal comment made by my bestie Mrs. G , "Maybe you are pregnant"...."Ha! I thought, fat chance"...yet something inside me flipped a little...apparently that was the baby.

I dug out a dusty old pregnancy test from 2013 trapped in the back of my bathroom cabinet and took it. POSITIVE.

I asked my husband to clarify the number of lines and compare to the box. He looked as if he was going to vomit.

Me - "Nope, this one is clearly expired, I'll go to the store on my way to work, Vons opens at's fine, everything is fine...everything is fine...everything is fine".

Insert disbelief, panic, nausea, joy, terror...wait, is this what normal people go through?!?!

Keep in mind I had NEVER seen a positive pregnancy test aside from the one I took just to see a positive result for the first time ever after blood-work had confirmed our IVF treatment had worked. Needless to say, this was UNREAL. Those few years filled with negatives. Those few years of utter despair sobbing on the bathroom floor. Those few years of being an emotionless zombie with my heart cut out and a smile pasted on.

It. Actually. Happened. The odds were in our favor.

I know "they" say that lots of women get pregnant after IVF, but I was certain it would never be me. I mean yes, I had secretly prayed and dreamed, but never did I think it would happen.  That in itself made the news even that much more surreal.

Goes to show the power of manifestation is legit.

What was even more insane to me is that I had finally come to terms that we were done. My experiences being pregnant were over, my love of breast feeding would never happen again; it was on to phase two of mommyhood.  Or so I thought...

After two additional digital pregnancy tests, a confirmed blood test and an ultra sound it was confirmed. SIX WEEKS!

And now, I am in about to embark on my second trimester having my FOURTH son and my husband is already meeting with urologists...his decision.

Who would have ever guessed it. Not me, not even in my wildest dreams did I think this would truly happen. But it did, and I cannot imagine feeling any more complete than I do at this very second.

Now, here are the top 5 FAQ I've been getting -

1. Are you sad it isn't a girl? Yes and no. A girl would have been unchartered territory for me which if you know me, makes me rather anxious. The thought of it excited yet kind of terrified me at the same time. The main reason I always wanted a girl is because I am so incredibly close with my mommy and wanted a similar relationship with my future daughter. However, being a boy mommy is my JAM and I love it so much, so this is AMAZING news as far as I am I have everything I could ever need!

2. Are you going to keep trying for a girl? No. I am all done. Four kids in five years is plenty. I am ready to get my body back and just enjoy raising my crew of men.

3. What are you going to name him? Since I am 100% sure my Poppa sent this angel down from Heaven for me, I of course want to name the baby Poppa...just kidding...kind of. I want to name the baby Richard (after him) and call him Papi for short. Fingers crossed that gets approved by my TH.

4. Why were you so shocked? I mean, didn't you know this could happen? I think to go through what we went through kind of took a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I have been trying to explain it by comparing it to the Lotto. Yes, you play, but you never think you will actually win, so when you do it is hard to comprehend and takes time to process. I still sometimes pinch myself even though I am fully popped and there is no denying it. Another reason I had a hard time comprehending what was happening was I had mentally closed the door on that being a possibility as I decided to not undergo IVF again, which for my brain, made it harder to really grasp.

5. How is this pregnancy different since it was spontaneous? The best part has been medications prior to conception which means I avoided packing on those 15 hormonal pounds pre pregnancy which make me CRAZY! I have also been able to keep with my normal fitness routine which has also been such a game changer. I still felt like crap for six weeks with a sweet hangover about 18 hours a day. Still super tired and even found myself randomly falling asleep for minutes at a time during the day. Still same amount of crazy excitement, joy and amazement at the female body and it's ability to grow freaking human life. I mean how cool are we?!

So there you have it, my "Mother of Boys" title shall live on as we expect our little love to join our family this September.

Looking forward to keeping you all up to date and I grow my fourth and final little boy!

Strive to thrive, 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

DIY Art Gallery

I remember when I stumbled across my first frame; I didn't know why I needed it, I just did. After that initial purchase, one thing led to another and I started (as I often do) collecting frames on my visits to garage sales and antique markets. At first, I wasn't quite sure what their purpose would be, but I knew it would be something one day!

When we moved into our forever home, I knew right away I needed a gallery to showcase all the beautiful art that my boys created. My stashed away frame collection was finally ready to be displayed in all its glory.

I found the perfect wall in our breakfast nook and decided that was where the gallery needed to be. Now, to hang each frame, I went with burlap ribbon handed down from my MIL gave me as I just adored the texture and slight striped sass it. I wrapped each frame at the top, and proceeded to lay them out and play with their arrangement.

Once I had an idea of how I wanted them placed, I carefully tacked each one to the wall. I made sure to tie the ribbon tightly over the tack holding it in place.  I worked my way out from the center until all my fabulous frames were hung.

Once they were up, I needed a way to showcase the actual art piece. I grabbed a few of my vintage clips and secured them inside the frame with a thinner piece of burlap ribbon. Before I knew it I was done and ready to showcase some pieces in our very own gallery!

One of my favorite things about this gallery as it is always changing and always reflecting the upcoming holiday or season. It is absolutely one of my favorite walls of the house!

I am always looking to add to our collection as there is more art coming home from preschool these days than I know what to do with!

Are you ready to create a gallery for your home?

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

RECIPE - Mary's Divine Dressing

Salad is a key part of my diet. I grew up eating all sorts of tasty, leafy green concoctions (thanks mommy) and have grown to be rather obsessed. When my Thriving Mommy came home with a new dressing recipe from her friend Mary, I nearly died. It was literally everything I could have ever dreamed of. Vegan (which works out great when I am on a reboot), healthy and incredibly tasty. I have been eating it nearly everyday for what feels like forever and have yet to tire of this divine dressing.

After many requests, it is high time I share it with all of you Thrivers so you too can incorporate it into your daily (or weekly) salad parties. With this on hand in your pantry you will look ever so forward to those Mason Jar salads you are dreading this week. Trust.

Depending on how much you want to make, adjust any of the above ingredients. Also, if you want a little more (or less) flavor you can also adjust the garlic/shallots. But as my Thriving Mommy often points out, who wants to save half a shallot?

Start with your 1 qt Mason Jar (the better for shaking) and add equal parts (thirds) of the liquids (oil, vinegar, broth).

 Next slice your shallot and crush your garlic. Preferably in a garlic press...if you've got one.

Dump that flavor in the jar, let it sink and soak. PS, my mouth is watering as I write this...

 Add a squirt of Dijon and a some S&P to taste....


Just like that you will have the most delicious, low calorie dressing that ever was or will be. You will be dreaming of salads filled with rich leafy greens, roasted & chopped vegetables, scoops of whole grain goodness (think quinoa), heck throw on a sprinkle of your favorite cheese and then SHAKE WELL and poooouuuurrr out some of the sweet stuff.

The best part? The last bit of that dressing, when all those pickled shallots make an appearance as the tastiest topping ever!

Hope you love it as much as I do and thank you Mary for bringing this Divine Dressing into my Thriving Life! Also huge thanks to my own Thriving Mommy for always filling my order requests...hers is always better than mine.

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

5 Tips to Thrive at Legoland

Heading to any amusement park tends to be super overwhelming. The crowds, the lines and soon-to-be exhausted/constant borderline tantrum throwing kids often leaves many of us wondering...why am I here again?

Well, we all know why we are really there. Watching our kids light up at every turn, giggle with glee and experience every magical moment for the first time makes all that chaos worth it. 

Disneyland for us is a annual treat as the preparation and recovery are enough to last the rest of the year. Our go-to amusement park of choice as So-Cal residents is Legoland!

A mere 45 minutes from our house and full of exciting things for my little boys to do. From water, to rides, lego stations to play structures, it really is perfect for small kids. It is actually probably better for smaller kids as it seems the "big kid" stuff is pretty limited. Since my guys are the PRIME age to enjoy such a heavenly spot it only made sense that we be season ticket holders so we could enjoy all that fun and dodge the crowds vowing ONLY to go on un-busy weekdays. Why wait in any lines if you don't have to?

Not only does Legoland have the main park but it also has a full water park (beyond the super cool features within the park) and an impressively interactive aquarium (the food court there is quite good too). While it is great for kids, it is also great for the family budget as well. Season tickets  (Merlin Annual) are only $199, which is a lot of money, don't get me wrong. BUT, that price includes, parking ($18 per trip), access to the main park, water park AND aquarium...ALL YEAR! Not to mention 20% off on all food and merchandise. You can guess what the boys got this year for Christmas from Mommy & Daddy!

We bought a play pass the year before (pay for a day get the rest of the year free, which equated to about 6 months) but it was only for the park and didn't include parking. I mean, honestly the upgrade pays for itself just with parking costs alone! ANNNNDD ( I know, it doesn't stop) you get all sorts of perks too, like a free hotel stay, free one day passes for a guest of your choice for all pass holders and so much more! Man...maybe I should work in their sales department. 

So, now that I have you hooked and you want to go..let me share my top five tips. While these were created specifically for Legoland, they really apply to ALL amusement parks in general. As long as you are prepared for anything you are sure to THRIVE!

1. PREPARATION IS KEY. I know, it seems super annoying to bring all that "crap", but being left in a pickle without what you need, to me, is way worse. Pack more than you think (an additional pair of shorts, an extra pair of shoes...screaming about ouchie feet sucks, an extra shirt for you, hats, sweatshirts, sunscreen, wipes....the list goes on)...

2. BRING YOUR WHEELS. Even if you think your kids are too old to ride in a stroller (my big boys often refuse) at least you have a "locker on wheels" (Thanks Mrs. A). Since these kid friendly parks have stroller parking everywhere, it is great to be able to stash all you need and wheel it wherever you go. Throw that diaper bag, backpack, snack bag and extra clothes bag on that thing and roll out!

3. SNACK CENTRAL. My kids eat literally every second of every day. It is imperative that I have snacks to last at least a week...yes for one day. They know they get a "treat" when they are there, but I would rather be prepared with their favorite go-to foods for snacks and lunch. Not only am I saving money, but I can toss them a snack-stacker while in line, no problemo.

4. WET & DIRTY IS THE NEW BLACK.  One of my favorite things about Legoland is all the water features. With two awesome splash pads and an entire play structure filled with water fun, you might as well just have your kids wear their swim suits to the park; I know I do. Between the water play, fossil station (huge sandbox filled with Dino bones...perfect for my scoop loving boys) and about a million other lego building stations, your kids are going to be filthy, soaked and oh so happy. I bring a change of clothes for after their water play/digging is over, but for most of the day they are running wild in their swim trunks!

5. KEEP THE GOODS CLOSE TO THE HIP. Since my stroller is bogged down with my daily essentials for all three kids, myself and usually my own Thriving Mommy (she of course never misses a trip as she is an essential part to our Lego crew...), I do not suggest leaving anything of real value on your stroller when you go on rides and park it. Sure, if someone wants to wheel off with my expensive stroller, Vera Bradley collection of bags filled with goodies...go for it. But my credit cards, ID, keys and phone? No way sucker, that is always on me.  With my pouch snug on my hip I am always ready for hands free fun with the most essential items closely monitored at all times. I even stash a small sunscreen in there for safe keeping!

If you are looking for any secrets or insider information, I am most likely your girl.

Feel free to leave a comment asking for more and I will do my best to help you out. Now get planning your next trip and look for me while you are there!

Strive to thrive,