Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Recipe - Oh So Easy Ice Cream Sammies

The solstice has come and gone which means summer is here! And for me, summer is a time to eat ice cream. Well, who am I kidding...any season is a time to eat ice cream. 

Since I... A) Love summer B) Love ice cream and C) Love cookies...I decided to whip up some of my very own ice cream cookie sandwiches to keep on hand when that sweet tooth kicked in (which it does daily).

I will admit, I was VERY lazy when it came to the baking. The mere thought of turning on the oven in 100+ degree heat was not going to happen. So, I decided to silence my inner Thriving Wife with the whole cookie thing and just buy them from the store (insert horrified gasp).

I am hoping I can make it up to you all by assuring you I did, in fact use one of my favorite appliances and made homemade ice cream. It is so easy and doesn't make me please, accept my honesty.

With my store bought cookies (I have a weird obsession with Von's M&M clue how that started), homemade vanilla ice cream and sprinkle selection I was ready to assemble. 

I laid down some wax paper under the cookies as I planned to use it to wrap my gaggles of sammies to store in the freezer. 

I scooped out some fresh ice cream, placed on the top cookie and squished it down to perfection. My goal was to have a slight ice cream ooze...all the better to sprinkle with!

Next up, I choose a sprinkle and just rolled my ice cream ooze to make sure each part was evenly blasted with a pop of sugary color!

I wrapped the wax paper around the cookie, secured with a colorful sticker and stored away in the freezer.

Once I had one down I was a machine! Cookie, ice cream, sprinkle, WRAP!

While I of course enjoyed the sweet treat while "slaving away in the kitchen" (duh), you can bet I was even more excited to have a freezer stash to share. These are so easy and great for any party!

Looking forward to making these again, like all the time, especially when my kids are older and I let them eat processed sugar in mass quantities! I swear I will make the cookies from scratch on my next go round and get more daring with my ice cream choices.  I am thinking a chocolate, chocolate chip cookie with Mexican chocolate ice cream? Who's with me?!

What suggestions do you have? Any sammies you wish you could now?

Strive to Thrive, 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Father's Day to my Guardian Angel

I recently lost half of my heart, my best friend in the world and the first man I ever loved; my Poppa. While he had been slowly getting closer to Heaven over the past few years, when it finally came it still ached all over. This will be the first Father's Day I won't be sending a card or wishing him a special Poppa's Day. Instead, I will spend the day with him through my memories.

Thankfully, I've got memories aplenty with that gorgeous beast of a man. He and I had a bond like no other and he was so much more to me than just my grandpa. He was my coach, best mate, mentor hooligan, escort to all Father-Daughter dances and of course the hand that gave me away.

I can recall spending hours playing catch with him in front of the house. Heading to bowling alleys, arcades, water parks, miniature golf courses and every Foot Locker in our area. Eating pizza and ice cream until we approached illness and being spoiled silly (I of course am not at all rotten) as every time I wanted something his reply was always, "Put it on the counter"...and by that he meant the checkout counter.

We watched TV together cuddled in his large recliner, whispering rude and inappropriate comments to each other about those around us which left us both snorting with glee while those "other" eyes rolled. We sang songs at the top of our lungs driving to and from my team practices or on one of our regular adventures. Poppa and Em, Em and Pop; Besties for Life.

Since losing my Poppa, I have lost a large part of myself. I talked with him nearly everyday (as all of my family members did) most often about nothing. We would make jokes back and forth about any and everything, always coming back to the "bits" we had done since I was little. Most conversations left us with a sore tummy from laughing and a big, "I love you" before hanging up. I still often find myself picking up my phone and calling the house, only too quickly realize that he won't be on the other end this time...or the next. 

It is then I set down the phone, look up to the Heavens and just start talking to him like we were back in his car, Black Velvet playing from the stereo (I had always sang that song in preparation for my Star Search audition). "Hey Poppa, you aren't going to believe this..." or "I mean the nerve of that gal, can you even immmaaggiinnneee (heavy on the dramatics)". I tell him the stories of my day, always making sure to embellish the facts, (I mean that is our signature style and the only way a story is worth being told) just as I always had. After I'm done filling him in, I always end by telling him I miss him and love him.

As I continue to live without him on Earth, I know he is always with me. Sharing in my daily shenanigans and smiles. I talk about him a lot with my boys as I don't want them to ever forget the man, the legend...The Poppa. 

While we celebrate the amazing fathers in our lives this weekend, let us all take a moment or two to to wish a very special day to our guardian angels as well. I know my Poppa will enjoy his view from above and I can't wait to share it with him.

Have a wonderful weekend with all those Thriving Daddies!

Strive to thrive,

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How to Sneak in Veggies to your Littles - Smoothie Pops!

When the boys were younger they ate everything. Broccoli by the bushel, spinach scrambles, zucchini tacos; I mean allll the veggies. 

Then that sassy toddler switch went on and they got annoyingly picky. These days it seems as though they have a sixth sense of my veggie sneaking and can locate exactly where I hid it...yes they even found the ninja'ed broccoli hidden in their pesto sauce..ugh!

As a veggie lover myself I always worry that they aren't getting enough of that colorful, healthy goodness. They will eat almost all fruit, but something about vegetables they just will. not. do. RUDE!

Of course, I will not tolerate this and I knew a sure fire way to sneak in loads of greens was in a tasty smoothie. I loaded them each up with some green goodness, hid it in an aluminum cup and I was in business! My smoothing game was strong for what seemed like forever...and then that Clarkey-Puss started to boycott those as well. What the heck was I going to do now?!

The picky Puss himself enjoying his smoothie pop poolside!

Then it dawned on me, popsicles! These fun treats are always welcomed by the boys and since So Cal is basically an endless summer, they are the perfect post-rest time, afternoon snack.  I can load them up with greens, fruit, protein powder and they are so elated to be getting a popsicle they woof that thing down and beg for that is a #mommywin for sho!

I knew I needed some molds and grabbed these BPA free, drip catching, large Mamasicle popsicle molds from Amazon and am truly obsessed. Plus, their website has gaggles of recipes for the whole family to enjoy...even wine pops for mommy...YES!

While you can pretty much add whatever you want to sneak past your littles tastebuds, my daily recipe is easy and welcomed each and every day. HORRAY!

It's so easy, it's too easy. Grab your ingredients (whatever they may be), blend, pour and freeze!

SO many nutrients, SO much plant based protein (if you too have vegetarian babies, these are insanely loaded with the greens/powder/yogurt combo) and SO tasty!

Greens first...
Blueberries are great to add as they hide ALL the green color and are full of antioxidants...
The sweet fruit completely hides those bitter greens...
Extra boost of protein...
Mamasicle molds come with a handy tray to make pouring and storing as enjoyable as a summer breeze!

Fill them up, pop on the top and that is it. You have made a super healthy, super tasty, kid friendly snack you can feel good about giving your littles...especially when they demand seconds.

Summer is in full swing Thrivers, so let's get popsiclin' and sneakin' in those greens...ha, and those littles thought they couldn't be outsmarted...

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

10 Tips for Garage Sale'n Success

I love to go garage sale-ing. It is one of my favorite weekend activities and not all that easy to do with three little ones. Thankfully, when my TH is home for the weekend he sleeps in with the boys, I grab the baby, my Thriving Mommy and we are OUT! Nothing is more fun than a good old fashioned treasure hunt (for what you ask? everything and anything) to kick off a Saturday.

Whether a rookie or veteran hunter, hopefully these top ten tips will help you on your next adventure!

1. Pick A Point. Have a destination in mind and head in that direction. Check out your local Craigslist to see what's poppin' the next morning; community sales are always a plus. With a route in mind, cut through every suburban neighborhood you can find on the way, then follow the signs.

2. Start Early. The unofficial rule is, "If the sun is up, the sale is on". Typically I like to start about 30 minutes post sunrise. Garage sale treasure hunting is an early morning sport and if you aren't up and ready to roll, you will surely miss the worm.

3. Treat Yo'Self. Whether you are a Starbuck's lover or McDonald's $1/free refills supporter like I am, make sure you get your coffee treat before you hit the circuit...makes it all the more fun.

4. Carry Cash. I hope it goes without saying that you need cash, so hit that ATM the day before. Try and get change for big bills as a lot of people will not have change. Keep small bills bundled together in groups of 5's. Then you can play my favorite game, "Oh shoot, I only have $2, would you take that instead of $5?" If they say no, then you can scrounge around your pocket and maaayyybbbee find another dollar, if not walk away...often times they will sell it to you anyway rather than have to haul it back in their garage later.

5. Have A Co-Pilot. Garage sale sign hunting is no joke. It takes well trained eyes. Not every sign maker is as skilled as the next so you need someone who can spot and scream when you need to make a quick turn. 

6. Cruise Then Stop. Always start with a drive-by...slowly creep past the house, check out what they have out and then decide to stop and get out. Don't bother actually parking unless you see something that catches your when you decide you are going to start playing tennis since your neighbor has a court...

7. Stay Ahead.  The garage sale circuit crew is brutal. There are "pickers" (people who buy items at garage sales to sell in a store front) and "exporters" (people who buy items at garage sales to bring to Mexico) and there is often a train of cars/trucks driving from one garage sale to the next. The goal is to get ahead...I mean it. If you get stuck in a garage sale train of cars, get out and find a new stomping ground...or you may be left with slim pickins'.

8. Talk 'Em Down. If the price says $5, offer $3. A simple, "Would you take $___" for this? Some will say no, but at least you asked. However, in most cases they will say yes as they just want to get rid of it.

9. Buy In Bulk. The more you buy, the more you'll save. When I find a good sale I ask to make a pile. Then I inquire if they offer a "Big Buyer Discount"...that alone gets me a few chuckles. Then, when they are adding up the price, they will often take off a few bucks or make it an even $_whatever_.  I love this game and do it regularly.

10. Chase Until You Can't Chase No Mo'.  Garage sale hunting is fast and furious. There may be days when you get more stuff then you could every imagine, don't really even know what you got but can't seem to fit anything else in the car (love these days). Other times you may get nothing (rare, very rare). Either way, keep going until you are done. Some of the best stuff is found at the last minute as people are desperate to purge and practically give it away...and yes, this is usually around 10am when they want to be DONE!

What is it they say again, "One man's trash is another Thriving Wife's treasure"...? Well, they are right!  Hope you use these tips this weekend and tag us when you find some treasures!

Strive to thrive, 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

12 Tricks to Prep for Summer

It's officially summer...are you ready? If not, try incorporating some of these tips to help you get ready for a fit and fabulous summer!
  • REST.  Ideally eight to ten hours is what you should shoot for. Shoot for. If that means winding down early (with your kids or without), then do it. I keep a notepad by my bed so I can jot down things on my mind that might keep me awake. I also try to get to bed early enough to read/meditate to make sure I fall into that deep sleep I love so much. Staying well rested will keep your brain in check when those nasty cravings set in.
  • INTENSIFY YOUR WORKOUT. Work out smarter, not harder. Don't waste precious time jogging along when  you can speed it up with sprints or a Tabata session (20 seconds high intensity, 10 seconds recovery for eight rounds). Whether you are jumping rope, squatting, lunging or high knee-ing, push yourself through intervals and make 20 minutes count for an hour.

  • CUT BACK ON COCKTAILS. I know, I know, WTH...but if you want to lose weight, one of the first things that needs to go is that nightly drinky drink. Try to limit it to one or two drinks per week...if that. Once you get to your ideal weight, then you can enjoy a cocktail poolside...with that rockin' body of yours!
  • FIBER-FULL MORNINGS. Fiber keeps you fuller longer, and who doesn't want that? With the recommendation being 25-35 grams per day, it seems nearly impossible to full up on that many berries, cups of beans and whole grains. Start off strong and get as much as you can in the AM  (think steel-cut oatmeal, fiber cereal with fruit).
  • HYDRATE. There is one true liquid of the Gods and it is that quality H20. Ditch the soda and juice (packed with sugar and calories) and flush that body right with nothing but fresh, delicious water.
  • MAKE IT A GROUP THANG. Whether you hit an exercise class with a friend, run with a neighbor or take on virtual challenges, force yourself to be accountable. Get in a group and expect each other to show up. It is not nearly as easy to dodge a workout when people are waiting for you and are happy to lay on the guilt.
  • KEEP TRACK. With so many apps and gadgets out there these days it is easier than ever to keep track of what goes in and out of your body. Food gets written down (the in) as do your daily workouts (the out). I use MyFitnessPal for food/workouts which is great as it syncs to my FitBit Blaze to give me all the information I need to ensure I meet my daily goals. I also keep a small desk calendar with my workouts to make sure I get in at least five a week. Nothing is more depressing than seeing empty little squares...
  • LIVE ACTIVE. I know how hard it is to try and make time for fitness when you have little ones at home, but what if your life just was fitness? I sometimes catch myself sitting and watching the boys play when I realize I could also be getting my calorie burn on. I get up, get moving and watch those steps tick away on my tracker. I always aim for at least 12,000 steps a day and usually have no problem getting there. Running around outside, dancing, riding bikes, jumping on the trampoline, teach yourself (and your littles) that being active IS life.

  • EAT CLEAN(-ISH). I try to eat as healthy as possible, but I also don't deny myself anything I want. So, yes, if that means I need a day of chemical s#% storm, so be it. I accept my poor choices and make better ones the next time around. As long as most of your diet is whole and healthy then you are off to a good start. 
  • CHECK OUT. Taking a small amount of time each day to mentally cleanse through meditation can reduce stress and also get your mind in check. When your have a clear head you are less likely to go digging make poor eating choices and dodge a workout.
  • SET SOME ASIDE. When you make/order food, train yourself to see multiple servings. If you are out, ask for a box. If you are home, make a small plate and save the rest. Don't gorge yourself at each meal. Keep it small, enjoy it and set the rest aside for later.
  • GET STARTED. Make an effort to get healthy. Even as little as five minutes of cardio a day will have you feeling better than zero. Jumping jacks while dinner is cooking or a dance party with your kids will work. The goal here, get your endorphins pumping and teach your brain to crave the feeling.  Cutting out soda, your daily McDonalds breakfast or even just slowing down on that burrito is a good start. Take it one day at a time and do your best!

Do you have any favorite tricks stashed away to help you ready for summer?

Strive to thrive, 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

DIY Natural Deodorant

I am going to be completely open and honest here. I stink. I straight up stank.  I have tried everything. I have bought every aluminum crap packed deodorant on the market; men's and women's alike. I have gone the natural route, scrubbed, shaved, swapped deodorants daily to keep my pits guessing...I even got Botox injections in an effort to combat my odor. But nothing, I repeat nothing seemed to work for more than a day or two. Boo-hoo-hoo.

I always felt totally self concious, washing under my arms multiple times a day and constantly reapplying a different brand every few hours to keep smelling fresh. It was exhausting, expensive and emotionally draining.

When my stink issue came up (I of course love to talk about it with my friends) with one of my besties, Ms. B, she expressed a similar battle of the pits but with sweat. She suggested that I "detox" my body and allow the millions of layers of chemical s#*^ to get out of my body. She told me to go deodorant free for at least a week...I gagged slightly, knew it would be a hell of a week for those in my family, but was willing to try anything.

I jumped back in with all natural deodorants (Toms, PiperWai), but they didn't work for more than a day or two. Which was a horrible let down and completely devastating P to the S.

I decided to try a different approach and hit up my favorite "granola" girl, Wellness Mama. I had tried some of her beauty recipes in the past and loved them all, I figured I had nothing to lose...except my body odor...fingers crossed.

I mixed up the baking soda and coconut oil and added a few drops of ylang ylang for good measure. 
I did my usual shower, scrub, shave routine and then took a little scoop and rubbed it in. 

I went about my day and then the evening fell and I realized something. I hadn't caught a whiff of myself all day. I lifted my arm...inhaled...and nothing. NOTHING?! Wait, NOTHING?!!!??!??!??!

OMG, are you serious? No, this is some kind of joke. I had used baking soda before and it hadn't worked. Hadn't I? How had I managed to make it through an entire day and still smell like a blooming beach flower?! O to the M to the G. I was saved.

I have been using this magic potion for a month now and still smell like a glorious angel all day long. Even after I work out...I know, I too am amazed. Better yet, I am going to save about a gazillion dollars on not buying that chemical death deodorant. NEVER AGAIN! This is the only thing I and my family will ever use again and if I ever run into that Wellness Mama Katie I just may kiss her on the mouth!

No more sweaty, stinky summer pits....I am FREEEEE!!! You are running to your cabinet right now to make some aren't you? If not, GO!

Strive to thrive, 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Must Try Recipe: Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

With a holiday weekend coming up there is nothing you need more than a good pie recipe. Not only will this creamy pie keep you cool but the people will be freaking out. It da bomb...da banana bomb.

Now me, I LOVE me some banana cream pie, I mean LOVE.  So, when I saw this recipe for a black bottom banana cream pie, I was ALL IN!  Chocolate and banana...wait, AND nutella too? Done.

What you'll need...

With everything ready to go, making that tasty cookie crust is up first.

Crush those vanilla wafers in preparation for your crust of deliciousness.  Take two tablespoons of those cookies and set aside for later use. 

Mix the remaining crumbs with 4 tablespoons of melted butter and sugar in a medium bowl.

Grab your favorite pie plate and press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides (if possible) of a 9 inch pie dish.

Now...the chocolate..and Nutella. Melt your chocolate (I microwave for 15 seconds, stir, nuke again, stir, again...until it is melty and smooth) then add that creamy Nutella to the mix.

Once you have your concoction, dump and carefully spread evenly on the crust. Note - if you get too aggressive the cookies may pull up so gentle...gentle.

Next up, place the sliced bananas evenly on top of chocolate layer.

Take the prepared pudding (as directed on package) and pour evenly over bananas.  Once you have those lovely layers complete, refrigerate for at least four hours (I went overnight).

Then, before serving add a layer of cool whip and a dusting of those leftover wafers. Oh to the Yes.

Slice up that bad boy and get ready to have your mouth/mind B.L.O.W.N.

Make sure to be the hit of your weekend party with this sassy take on a classic pie. And try not to eat the whole thing before you make it, it is not easy.

Strive to thrive,