Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thriving Thanks with Personalized Stationary

I am a real sucker for personalized stationary. I love to write notes, create tags and add a special thriving touch to pretty much everything.

Since this is in fact the season of "Thanks", what better a time to order your own stationary/thriving touches?

While there are many wonderful companies to choose from, I have had great success with Vistaprint. Super affordable, tons of designs to choose from, great coupon codes and phenom customer service. I pretty much buy blank postcards for ALL my note card needs and just started branching out into stickers!

I love sharing tips for a  Thriving Life with those around me and what better way to do so then with a super cute notecard!

I also cannot get enough of my new stickers that allow all my Thriving Packaging to really be Ah-Maze. I mean, how cute is this sassy TW?!
I literally have it all. Thank you postcards for myself, for my family, for my boys. I have plain postcards for special notes from myself, from my family, from my boys. I have "Made With Love" stickers for my family to add a little touch to each tasty treat I share. I mean, I honestly think I have a sight problem. 

Now is a perfect time to start your own collection. With the holidays here who would't love to get a sweet, personalized note from you on their desk, in the mail or even dropped on their doorstep with a special goody?!

Are you a stationary junkie too? What are some pieces you cannot live without?

Strive to Thrive, 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thanksgiving Menu

Last year my menu was a HIT! I was pretty impressed with myself that I was able to bang out a full dinner, keep the kitchen clean AND keep three little kids entertained. #mommywin for sure!

This year, I am at it again, perfecting my menu and looking forward to another wonderful, apron clad day in the kitchen!

First up, dranks.

As a sangria lover, this Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria seemed to be the perfect crisp and delicious drink to kick off a day of cooking and eating with the family.

Next, I needed to gather some information for the main event. I had never cooked a turkey and aside from my passionate aversion to meat the task seemed rather scary. With the smallest, most expensive, free range, hormone free, organic turkey I prepared myself.

I checked out some Turkey Tips to become better informed and pick up some tricks of the turkey making trade. Whew, so much to learn!

Next up? The must-haves; stuffing and potatoes. I decided to go with a fan fave, Pioneer Woman cornbread stuffing recipe  ( I love me some cornbread) and a sassy baked potato casserole.


With cranberries and gravy added to the mix all I needed next was a green side, bread (I'm set to fufull my of craving crescent rolls) and dessert!

As a brussels sprouts supporter, I jumped at this recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Balsamic Reduction. I may even do a salad too as I skip the turkey and load up on greens...well and bread...and potatoes to be fair.

While I of course will supply the traditional pumpkin pie, I wanted to a little something else too. How about this Pumpkin Crunch Dump Cake?! OK!!!

I have already reserved my Thriving Husband to watch the baby while my Thriving Mommy, Puss, Peanut and I take to the kitchen. The boys love to help and watch "cooking shows" so I am looking forward to prepping tomorrow and spending Thursday cooking, eating and spending time with my loves. While we will miss our family in the Bay Area terribly...we plan to make enough food to feed them despite their absence. That is what the holiday is about right...

What's on your Thanksgiving menu?

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My 3 Little Pumpkins at the Patch

With Autumn in full swing (it even finally cooled down over the weekend), of course I had to take my three little pumpkins to the patch. Actually, we checked out two. 

One was more activity focused, while the other was a tried and true country patch. We barely made it last year since Dude was so fresh, but this year we made sure to get out and get exploring.

In 90 degree weather, we loaded on the sunscreen, threw on some shades and headed out to arrive right when they opened. I wanted to avoid the crowds as well as get home and back into the AC as quickly as possible. I don't do well in heat unless I am in a bikini and near water. 

When we arrived the boys were in Heaven! Trucks, tractors, trains AND was too much!

It seems as though going to the pumpkin patch is a Fall right of passage and if you aren't taking your kids then you basically are a horrible parent. Well, not this Thriving Wife! We went to the same patch we took the boys to when they were little and WOW was it fun to watch how much different they responded to the experience. Clarke basically jumped off hay stacks the entire time while J.R. indulged me with some photos!

Dude loved to bang on the pumpkins and sit in the dirt while his brother's ran around taking it all in. They checked out the tractors, they rode the train, they said hello to the animals and of course...they played in the dirt.

While the country patch didn't have the inflatables, games or "monster trucks" to drive, it was still my favorite. I loved that it was settled in wine country and had that down home farm feel. I was quite sad we missed apple season this year, so I needed this pumpkin experience to be perfect and it was!

My little pumpkins loved their morning at the patch and I too loved checking out the property. I dare say I may even have an event there one day, it was SO cool!

We made it home, cooled off and enjoyed some pumpkin loaf for a snack...yum!

 Did you make it to the pumpkin patch this season? What is your favorite part of the tradition?

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

All About DIY Halloween Costumes

The time has come yet again...Halloween Costume Crafting is upon us!

I have been pretty lucky the past few years with the boys being so little I could "sway"them into being pretty much anything. Especially since I refuse to buy their costumes and am determined to make/put them together each year.

So far they have been...

2014 - Baby Fire Fighters...easy.

2015 - Love Machines...easy.

2016 - Wrecking Crew...easy.

2017 - Now, they actually are rather opinionated on the matter...UGH.

Since our favorite book as of late is Three Little Pigs I thought for sure they would make my Halloween dreams come true and agree to be three cute little pigs. I could be the mommy pig (apron clad of course) and Daddy could be the Big Bad first they were thrilled....the next day not so much.

Then they decided they wanted to be wolves like daddy. Ok, I can roll with this I thought, we can be a wolf pack! Even better, we can be a DIRE wolf pack and honor the Stark Family...oh YES.

Well, they only wanted to be wolves for like a day and I was devastated all over again.

Dude Wolf Inspo
Big Boy Wolf Inspo
Obviously, Halloween is all about what I want and how I want our family costumes to be cute, homemade and original...well, nope, not at all crazy lady, this is not even slightly about you...ugh again.

For the past few weeks it has been puppies. So, alas, after as serious a commitment as two three year olds could make, I am whipping together puppy costumes.

Dude Puppy Inspo
Big Boy Puppy Inspo
Puppy Face Paint Inspo

I am not buying any puppy suit, but rather sweats and a sweatshirt. I am using white felt to make their "bellies", wrapping a headband with pipe cleaner and attaching felt ears and painting their faces. Add a collar, harness and leash and they are ready to be walked by none other than their trusted dog walker...ME!!!

Looking forward to seeing how my three little puppy costumes turn out and hoping that I can incept them next year to be exactly what I want...however I highly doubt that will happen. Boo-hoo.

What Halloween costumes are your favorite? Homemade or store bought? Your kids decide what they want to be each year or do you have some pull?

Strive to thrive, 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

2 Ingredient Halloween Treats

With Halloween coming up quick, I wanted to find a NON candy treat to give to friends and co-workers. Since I have done candy apple bites in the past, I wanted something new. Something easy, quick and colorful; Halloween colors that is. I GOT IT!! Hand dipped dark chocolate dried apricots, done and done!

All you need for this easy recipe is organic dried apricots and dark chocolate...easy!

You can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate using a small pot and glass bowl (just add an inch or two of water to the pot, place the bowl in the pot and drop the chocolate in the bowl to melt. Or, use the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each one to make sure the chocolate doesn't overcook.

Lay out a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet (or something flat that will fit in your fridge, a cutting board would work too), dip the apricot halfway into the chocolate and lie out to harden. Pop that thin into the fridge overnight (or for a few hours) and you are done!

I had made a healthy(ish), sweet snack in the most perfect of holiday colors!

I grabbed some labels, wrapping materials and got packaging. Moments later (and I literally mean moments) I was heading out the door with my treats in hand. There’ll be no trick from this Thriving Wife this year, only a new yummy treat!!

What are your favorite Halloween treats?! Aside from loads of candy of course...

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

5 Reasons to say YES to Self-Care

I sometimes think we as women were designed to put others first. We naturally would do anything for our loved ones, especially our children and seem to accept that our wants and needs are at the bottom of the list.

But is that really how it should be?  I don't think so.  In order to be the best you, you have to put yourself first and here is the catch, NOT feel bad about it.

This idea of self-care has always been important to me as I am pretty in tune with my mental health and very open about my vanity (at least I am being honest). Now that I am a mommy, finding time for myself is tricky. I am often torn between feeling disgusting or battling guilt to get away and stop feeling disgusting.

1. HEALTHY WIFE, THRIVING LIFE. I often feel terrible taking time for myself, but if I don't do it I am miserable. For example, I know I need to exercise at least 20 minutes a day -  no matter what. Whether that means the kids are crawling around under foot, fighting, screaming, making messes or driving me nutty, it doesn't matter, I have to finish that workout...even if it takes hours. If I put it off or ditch it all together I feel horrible the rest of the day and it isn't fair to myself or my family. I need to put my health first in order to thrive.

2. HIGH-MAI IS THE NEW LOW-MAI. While I don't consider myself high-maintenance, I undergo regular beauty treatments in an effort to be low maintenance. WTF does that mean you ask...? Let me explain.

Since I no longer get my hair done (I used to be bleach blond...not the best phase of my life), nor tan, nor get monthly facials, nor weekly manicures, nor bi-monthly wax sessions, nor take two hour gym sessions, I feel I am somehow justified in my current indulgences

For example, if I don't have my nails done I feel super gross. I cannot do chipped polish (nor a color for that matter, I am a OPI Bubble Bath girl) and since I have a horrible cuticle picking habit I decided that I was going to commit to long lasting gel polish every three weeks in an effort to keep my dish washing, diaper changing, laundry folding hands looking classy. Do I feel bad about it? NO. I only have to sneak away every few weeks for an hour and the rest of the month my slightly pink tips are polished and looking fresh...therefore, I am feeling fresh.

3. YOU LOOK GOOD, YOU FEEL GOOD. Notice how you just feel better when you get all dressed up, get a fresh blow out and throw on some lashes. Well, it happens. When you look good, you feel good. And I when I look in the mirror at any point of the day/night, I want to feel good about it. So, instead of going through endless amounts of mascara trying to find one that doesn't end up sprinkled under my eyes each day, I decided to get lash extensions. Is it a commitment? YES. Is it beyond worth the money/time to get them done and feel amazing each morning when I look in the mirror at the hot mess staring back at me who has perfect lashes? YES. The precious hour I get every two weeks to sit with my eyes closed in silence only sweetens the deal. If it makes you look good and feel good, DO IT.

4. YOU DESERVE IT. Instead of feeling guilty about the few little things I do for myself, I welcome my self care needs with open arms. But it doesn't stop there, one night a week I also do a deep facial mask while soaking in a Epsom salt bath....I know...insane right? NO! I DESERVE IT! I love putting my family first and wouldn't have it any other way. But that one night a week where I can escape into a tub of bubbles with a glass of Rosé and my face caked with a hydrating mask is the highlight of my week and I earned it!

5. LIFE IS TOO SHORT. You will always have somewhere to be, something to do, someone who needs you, so why not just press pause on all that and do you every once in awhile. Life is too short to not take care of yourself. Being a dedicated Thriving Wife/Mommy/Fitness Professional/Educator/Blogger is all incredibly I might as well look and feel good while I do it right? You only get one life.

So, the next time you are wondering if you should do that little something, or sneak in that little appointment, or pop into that little class the answer is YES. Always put yourself first and know that by doing so you are able to be the best version of yourself, therefore making the world around you a better place.

Trust, you do not want to see this mommy chasing three small boys without her lashes and nails done....especially if she hasn't gotten in her sweat session....recipe for disaster. #Truth

What self-care activities are an absolute must for you?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Recipe - Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin season has kicked off and there has been no stopping me in the kitchen. With my trusty Better Homes & Gardens 100 Best Pumpkin Recipes (thanks MIL!) I am working cover to cover, picking out my faves.

And this one is hands down the top winner thus far this season. Pumpkin meets chocolate meets soft, spongey goodness.  The moistness level in this guy in insane. I mean, is there anything better than a perfectly moist baked good? Albeit PUMPKIN?! No, I think not.

I have already done this recipe multiple times and want to eat it all. season. long.

Now, let's get started!

With your ingredients gathered, preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a 15x10-in baking pan with foil, making sure to extend it over each edge. 

Next, in a large bowl stir together the first seven dry ingredients (through to cloves...note the star breaks...)

Into the dry mixture, stir in the pumpkin, 4 eggs and oil until combined. Then dump/spread the batter into your pan. 

In a small bowl, microwave 1/2 cup of the chocolate pieces until melted. I typically do 30 second intervals, stirring in between.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar (with a mixer on medium) until combined.

Beat in 1 egg, milk and melted chocolate.

Spoon the cheesy chocolate over the pumpkin mixture and using a kitchen knife, swirl slightly to marble. 

Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips/chunks on top and bake 25-30 minutes or until puffed and toothpick comes out clean (my oven usually takes 45 minutes - 1 hour FYI). 

Cool in pan on a wire rack, then use the foil to lift out of the pan. 

Cut up, enjoy and try not to eat it in its entirety without sharing....a struggle for me every time.

If you are able to restrain yourself, make sure to store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to three days. But I am sure they won't last that long!!

What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes? Any ones that cannot be missed this season?

Strive to thrive,