Tuesday, December 12, 2017

DIY Washi Tape Christmas Cards


I just cannot get enough of this whole Washi Tape thing. I mean, there is just SO much you can do with that stuff! With seemingly endless patterns, colors and designs I am constantly whipping up things left and right. With my growing collection of holiday Washi (thank you amazing mother-in-law), it was pretty obvi that I had to do something with it this year.

While gift cards used to be an impersonal gift, I personally feel that is not (and to be honest, never has) been the case. I can't think of anything I love more than someone giving me money I HAVE to spend. You can't put a gift card in savings. You can't pay a bill with a gift card. You MUST spend it...on something you want...ummmm, yeah, that is the best gift ever!  Not that I don't try to find thoughtful gifts for family and friends, I do, but for most, the gift card seems the way to go.


Rather than throw the card in the standard store provided envelope, I decided to show my love this season through my Washi work. I grabbed some random opaque paper (I know, who has that around? my original plan was my trusty index card, but I happened upon the more festive paper), envelopes, metallic marker and my Christmas Washi selection.



I assessed my stash and decided to mix and match patterns. I went with one wordy one graphic and tried to choose two that contrasted yet complimented each other.



Once the cards were assembled, I reached into my stack of gift cards and matched the chosen "must spend money" to the loved on in mind.


A few more tears tape and I was done! Using my metallic pen I added the "to" and "love" and started stuffing into envelopes.



And just like that I was done. No major wrapping, no boring envelope, just a little DIY Washi-ing. I swear, Washi tape is the gift that NEVER stops giving! It adds a pizazz to any and everything. God...I am obsessed!!!

What is your vote on gift cards? Hell yes or No way? Washi lover or hater?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

DIY Breakfast to Go - Overnight Oats


There is nothing I love more than a healthy, meal to take on the go. I am constantly on the run and sadly eat the majority of my meals over the sink or while in route. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that eating most anything I can prep ahead of time, grab and eat out of a jar is life.

Even better is finding things my kids will eat as they have become picky little monsters. I am always finding new tricks to keep them filled with fruits and veggies and living that #healthylife we so strive to live. Especially this time of year when the schedule gets more packed and the sugar intake hits an all time high (I am never one to turn down a holiday treat, never).

Overnight oats are by far my favorite breakfast (ok, that's a lie, my favorite is a huge breakfast burrito, but this is surely my second). I make enough for the week, in all different flavors and can eat them while I prep the boys food, in the car or even at school on those few days I work.

Healthy, easy and oh so tasty...a Thriving Wife's dream!


I use 16 oz, wide mouth Masons as they are my fave, but whatever you have will work!


First add your oats.


Next add in your yogurt and milk of choice.




Grab whatever fruit, nuts, seeds or random deliciousness you want to add and throw it in there!



Screw on a lid, give it a hard shake to mix everything up and you are DONE!

If you are me, then you of course add a Washi tape label to differentiate the flavors before storing in the fridge for the next day(s).



Come morning you will have a whole grain, protein party to start your day. Who I ask, doesn't love that?

Heck, why not sprinkle of your Thriving Homemade Granola to add a sweet crunch to every bite? I know I do!




Are you ready to do a little prep for a week of nutritious and delicious morning meals? I think you are!

What are some of your favorite overnight oat recipes?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

10 Christmas Traditions


I am a big fan of family traditions. I love nothing more than creating new ones each year as the boys get bigger and start to "get it".  My TH and I incorporate traditions from our childhood memories while creating new ones of our own. As the years pass it keeps getting better!

This time of year is so magical and is even more special because we get to see it through our boy's eyes. The excitement around the tree, lights, Santa and all the holiday traditions we start once Thanksgiving dinner has been devoured.


Now that the time has come, I am so excited to share my TOP TEN Christmas Traditions with you!


1. DAY-AFTER DECORATING. I am all about getting Christmas kicked off as early as possible. I do however have a lot of guilt getting anything out on or before Thanksgiving. I feel like I am not honoring that holiday if I don't wait it out...so I always do...and it is not easy! When Friday hits I am READY!  On Thanksgiving between food pre and cooking, I am also putting away Autumn and cleaning house to prepare for all the Christmas decor to make its way out and up!


2. HOLIDAY ATTIRE. Don't think for a second that I am not up and ready to go on that fateful Friday with music playing, cocoa heating and Christmas Cozies for the whole family! It is a must to dress the part while decorating and it makes it so much more fun!



3. 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. My mother-in-law always truly makes the start of the season so special with what we call her, "25 Days of Christmas" packages. Filled with holiday jammies, books, treats, blankets and cocoa...I mean you name it, she has sent it. The boys get so excited when the boxes arrive and it is so fun to enjoy all the treats for the whole month of December! Thank you Grandma!!




4. LIBRARY OF LOVE. We have managed to assemble quite a magical collection of Christmas books and we so enjoy reading a few different ones each night. From books my TH and I had as kids, to books we've been given and even purchased for the boys, we love reading them together.


5. MEET PASQUALE. Come December 1st we have a new man in town, our elf, Pasquale. Each year becomes more and more exciting as the boys get older and understand what he is really all about...working for Santa. He joins us for dessert after Thanksgiving dinner to say hello and help us read his book before bed, then he is off to his "Elf Convention" with Santa for the week before he reports for duty. The boys literally GO NUTS for him and look up and down each morning calling, "Pasquale, where are yoooouuu?". My TH takes great pride in making sure Pasquale moves around the house to watch the boys and on those nights when he isn't home, he reminds me...a few times...I absolutely love it! Plus, even mentioning his name this time of year makes the boys do annnyyytthhiiinnng I say...and quickly!


6. CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN. One of my greatest joys of the season was the paper advent calendar my Geena bought for me from the grocery store. Each night I would find the number, eat my chocolate and leave the door wide open to build anticipation for the big day. I continued to do this well into adulthood and feel no shame about it, thank you very much.  Now, with the boys and my ever-gifting MIL we have mini stockings filled with two Hershey's kisses (one for each big boy) that we enjoy after dinner as we get closer and closer to Christmas.


7. CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES. It is no secret that meeting Santa is a big deal. Not only do we like to meet with him, we like to have breakfast with him! We take the kids out for a meal with the big man complete with music, letters and elves! I try and set up at least two "big outings" with the boys to build the excitement. Our other favorite is a double decker bus tour of all the local Christmas lights...with lots of hot chocolate!



8. CHRISTMAS EVE COOKIE PICNIC. I often think I am more excited than the kids throughout the whole month of December. When Christmas Eve finally rolls around I can barely contain my excitement. Throw on our favorite Christmas Cozies and we cuddle up for a massive picnic in front of one of our favorite holiday movies. With fresh baked cookies, we snuggle and discuss the joy of the morning before heading to bed to await Santa's arrival. Of course, we prepare his cookie plate too!

9. GIVING BACK. This year will be the first year we, as a family, start our newest tradition of giving back. Our boys have so much and as they get older I want them to learn to be grateful, appreciative and most of all giving.  My hope is as they grow up they will each get to choose one activity to do as a family to give back during the holidays. I also hope that this sets the tone for the rest of the year in terms of helping others. I look forward to them learning the joys of giving back.


10. CHRISTMAS MEMORIES BOOK. We received this book as a gift before the boys were born and it has been wonderful! The holidays can be so hectic and with little kids everything often just runs together. This book allows us to sit down and talk about what happened and store the memories safely away to look back upon the following year. What we did, where we were, our favorite part...this too will be so fun to do together as the boys get older. Hopefully our one book will turn into volumes over the years!

With all our traditions I try very had to teach them that Christmas is about much more than Santa and presents. It is about family, kindness and helping others. This really is the most wonderful time of the year and I can't wait to share it with my little men.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Recipe - Pumpkin Crumb Cake Muffins with Maple Icing


LAST CALL FOR PUMPKIN!!

I don't know about you, but for me, part of the whole pumpkin obsession is that it is short lived.

I wait all year for it to come around, binge/gorge/eat basically everything starting with PUMP and then it is gone, not to be seen or heard from again until the following September...well, I may dip into those Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Bars again...not gonna lie.

And here we are, the Pumpkin Palooza home stretch. After that fateful Thursday I will pack up Autumn, turn my nose up to anything starting with PUMP and go directly into all things eggnog.

With that said, this pumpkin crumb cake muffin recipe with maple icing is FOR SURE going to make list to end the season. I dare say I may even serve them next to my cinnamon rolls come Thanksgiving morning.  Sally's Baking Addiction has got me HOOKED!


First, let's make that muffin batter!


Preheat the oven to 450F, and line your muffin pan with cupcake liners. Hopefully, you too will have been saving the perfect pumpkin liner specifically for an event as thrilling as this. Prep a second pan as this recipe should give you about 15...it gave me a bit more as I tend to be rather conservative.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt together until combined. Set aside.


In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and milk together until combined.



Pour the wet into the dry and fold together nice and easy until combined and no pesky flour pockets are lurking.



Spoon batter into liners, filling them almost full...or if you are me like 2/3 the way...like I said, I am conservative.


Now, on to the crumb topping...

Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice together until combined. Stir in the melted butter until crumbs form.

Spoon the crumbs evenly on top of the batter and gently press down making them nice and snuggly.



Bake these bad boys for 5 minutes at 425, then while the muffins are still cooking, reduce the temperature to 350F. Bake for an additional 15-ish minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The total time to cook is about 20-ish minutes.


Allow them to cook for 10 minutes as you whip up the icing.

Whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth.


Drizzle over muffins and serve warm.




And again, if you have been hoarding Autumn baking decor since you bought it on clearance last year, bust it out and let it relish in its Fall-tastic glory...as seen below with these pumpkin toppers.



What better way to end another amazing season of Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING then with these crumby muffins...pun intended.

Enjoy these last few days of Fall before the lights go up, the trees come out and everything SPARKLES!!!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and as always...

Strive to thrive, 
Em