Non Candy Valentines For Kids!

I don't know what comes over me on Valentines Day but I become real CRAFTY.

Those who know me know I am actually NOT crafty, but I am always looking for easy Valentines favors for the kids to make with me. I am a HUGE fan of the heart shaped crayons.





We've done them a few times!! They are easy TRUST ME! See how to make them HERE.

But these HEART SHAPED BIRD FEEDERS by Wine And Glue are the cutest things! I have to try them!



I know I know....


It could be a HUGE Craft Fail. By the way don't you love a good craft fail??!!! LOL




LOL




So anyhoo there they are. Pray to the crafting Gods that this goes well. I'll report back!

An Easy Dinner Party Menu For A Night With Good Friends!

The older I get the more I realize that time is my greatest extravagance. 

It's the most valuable commodity I have. I no longer want to spend time with people that don't care about me, lift me up, make me laugh or make me think. I no longer want to do things that don't make my heart sing.

That's why I was excited to get my first real group of great Mom friends and husbands together for a dinner party at my house. We haven't done this in a while so it was a nice reunion! Here are my girls:)

 

I love everything about a dinner party. From picking the menu, to setting the table (like how it turned out?) to the great conversation at the table.





One thing I don't like is working so much on the food that I don't get to spend time with my friends! Don't get mt wrong, I have girlfriends that jump in and help, but I would rather lounge and chat as much as I can.

I wanted to share my menu with you because it was not only delicious, it was the perfect easy menu. Most of these recipes you can prep way ahead of time so you can truly enjoy your evening!

The appetizers:

Artichoke Bruschetta from The Cookie Rookie- (OH MY LORD THESE WERE INSANE)




Parmesan Tortellini Bites by Damn Delicious- (COULD THIS BE MORE BRILLIANT??)


Main Course:

Pinwheel Steaks by Rachel Ray! (sooooo good and fun to make!!!)

Here they are when we made and tied them:





And then once we sliced them for grilling!



Lemon Parmesan Baked Broccoli by Get Off Your Tush And Cook- (SO YUMMY!!!!!)


Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes by Pioneer Woman (kids loved these too!)




Dessert:

Blackberry Cheesecake Bars by Hugs and Cookies- (aka you've died and gone to heaven bars)


It was a great evening and made even better by some amazing food! What's your go to dinner party recipe?

2016 Resolutions- Goals Part 2- Determine Your Priorities and Focus Areas



Now that you've asked the most important questions of yourself from my previous post, the next step in the goal setting process is determining your PRIORITIES.

This may seem obvious but believe me it's VERY important. Most people spend 85% of their lives not doing anything that is a priority in their life. By setting priorities you will learn what is NOT a priority and you can feel free to say NO!

How about that!?

I have learned most of this amazing goal setting from the goal setting queen MONEY SAVING MOM- Crystal. I just LOVE her!

So here we go. Next on the goal setting list: Create a list of 5 or 6 priorities. 

Priorities are personal and are very specific to this season in your life. I will share a few of mine to get you started:

1. Having a more connected relationship with my husband- After being married for 13 years this year, I want to ensure that my husband and I make our relationship a priority. The kids, finances, work all seem to take precedence over our relationship. I want to put him first and take time to be together.

2. The Warrior Moms- I want to get my new venture off the ground in a big way in 2016.

3. A fairly clean and organized home- I have been living a pretty cluttered life in my house and just barely keeping up with the mess. I want more peace in my home and that means less clutter!

4. Deeper relationship with my children- as my kids get older and grow and change I want to enjoy, teach, and connect more deeply with them.

These are a few of my priorities. After determining these the next step is to create focus areas within these priorities. 4-5 things for each priority item. Again here are mine to help you get started:

1. Connected relationship with my husband-
-Spend more one on one time 
- find more things we have in common
- adventures together
- date nights
- find mentor couples to model after

2. The Warrior Moms-
-Create more connection on the website
-Find sponsors
-budget for first event
-Begin compiling stories for book
-get people to subscribe to my website

3. Clean and Organized Home
- develop a cleaning schedule
-punch list for house
-de-clutter and organize

4. Deeper relationship with the kids- 
-find ways to connect individually with each child
-one on one time
-fun nights together/ adventures


Now it's your turn! You can share your goals with me by email or comment and I will support you.

2016 - The Year To Transform Your Life! Questions to ask from Mallika Chopra- STEP 1

Hi friends!

I don't know about you but I am ready to kiss 2015 GOODBYE. I am ready to leave a lot behind. I am ready to embrace and get a hold of some significant parts of my life.



 I am ready for TRANSFORMATION.

Can I get an AMEN??

The first step is getting focused on what is really important. A LOT of important time is wasted on things that are not important. An easy trap to fall into!

Mallika Chopra (daughter of Deepak Chopra) suggests in "Living With Intent" that we ask these questions:

1) Who am I?

2) What do I want?

3) How can I serve?

and I added another:

4) What makes me happy?

You can meditate on this and then write it down. The funny thing is, when I started this I only had a few things for each category. Now I have 10!

Here are a few of mine:

1) Who Am I? 

Mother of two amazing kids.
A wife who is committed.
A seeker who wants to learn.

2) What do I want?

Health and wellness for myself and my family
A purpose driven life
Financial freedom

3) How can I serve?

As a mother/ teacher to my children
On the board of Junior League
With The Warrior Moms- helping women rise to their greatest potential

4) What makes me happy?

Deep conversations with good friends
Reading
Hot yoga!

Try this exercise and join me on my journey! Let's make 2016 everything we hope for!

The Marriage Quilt

A few nights ago my high school friends and I got together. This was no small feat. With kids, holidays, different zip codes and coasts, it was a miracle we pulled it off. What I love about this crew is that everyone is cool being exactly as they are. No pretense. No B.S. We've all been through various good and bad things. Divorce, husband issues, child issues, parent issues. We've all walked through the fire.

When the conversation turned to marriage I heard a lot being said about how hard it really is. What it takes to have a marriage that lasts.

My analogy that I came up with was: Marriage is like a quilt.



When you first get married the quilt is perfect, snugly, and everything you want. You don't know how you ever lived without it before! The perfect comfort and happiness.

But over time job stress, financial strain, emotional strain, kids, can put holes in your quilt. It can wear it really thin and leave it threadbare. Mending it takes major work. You need time alone to reconnect, you need to let built up resentments go, and that's HARD. Sometimes the mending is as easy as watching your kid score a goal at soccer together, or sing in the school play.
You just smile at each other and feel mended.

Sometimes, however, you feel tired of mending. You think of how your quilt used to be and compare to how worn it looks now. You even think about getting a NEW QUILT. We could all just walk away from our relationships. Say we would be better off, happier, without it. 

In reality, in a lot of cases, there's a comfort to that old quilt that a new quilt can never bring. There's a history, a shared dream. New quilts look better but there's no guarantee it will really keep you warm.

So when you're holding on by a very thin thread....remember that's all it takes sometimes. You can always mend and patch those holes.

And for those of you who feel you NEVER had a quilt, WANT to have a quilt but can't find one, or have a quilt so DAMAGED it wouldn't be good for YOU if you fixed it....I am thinking of you and know what while all the crazy emotions of this past year are swirling around, and you are having a hard holiday, the new year beings RENEWAL. And NEW QUILTS. So take heart and keep the faith.

Oh, and everyone keep your sewing kits handy. Mending will happen!


Are You About To Erupt? Magma Mamas

This time of year brings an incredible amount of stress. It's almost VOLCANIC.



But it's more than the time of year. Something is happening my Mom friends, something where we are all about to ERUPT.  

WE ARE MOMMY VOLCANOES. MAGMA MAMAS. 



We are under pressure. And eventually, it will come to the surface.
 
Although the Earth is solid rock, it’s under high pressures and temperatures, and this causes rock to melt and squeeze out of cracks in the rock. When it’s underneath the surface, the molten rock is called magma. When it reaches the surface, it erupts as lava, ash and volcanic rocks. The magma collects into vast chambers beneath the Earth’s crust. Since this magma is less dense than the surrounding rock, it “floats” up to the surface, seeking out cracks and weaknesses in the rock. When it finally reaches the surface, we see this as an eruption.

I see women who are under such immense pressure from themselves, husbands, parents, children. They are keeping it together but I see. I see it floating to the surface. Cracking. Breaking. About to ERUPT. We are on a path that is so strenuous, over scheduled, stretched thin we can hardly take it. I keep hearing Moms say: I'm EXHAUSTED. I'm so TIRED. I'm at the end of my ROPE. You keep going even though you are about to blow. Too tired to change.
 
You see the nature of a volcanic eruption depends on thickness of the magma. When the lava flows easily, it can travel far. When the lava is very thick, it creates a more familiar cone volcano shape. And when the lava is extremely thick, it can build up in the volcano and EXPLODE.



How thick is that lava that's building beneath the surface for you? 

Believe it or not YOUR LIFE BELONGS TO YOU. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO QUESTION, SEEK, SLEEP, SAY NO and TAKE THINGS OFF THE SCHEDULE. 

You are allowed to take a yoga class instead of taking your kid to a birthday party. You are allowed to sign up for juice boxes for the class party and not to bake homemade cupcakes. You can send New Years cards instead of Christmas cards or an email instead. You can pull back on Christmas gifts and not put yourself in major debt. You can relax, take a bath, take a yoga class, and have lunch with a girlfriend.

IT'S YOUR LIFE. Stop being too busy to enjoy it.

Listen up Magma Mamas. Before you BLOW.

Want To Have A Stress Free Holiday? Take The Christmas Pledge!

Have you heard of the Christmas Pledge?

So many things are going on over the holidays it's hard to really enjoy it and really feel what it's all about. The idea of the Christmas Pledge is so brilliant I can't take it. The idea is by The Art Of Doing Stuff but I read it on: 3 Peanuts.

You do the WORK of Christmas in November so you can ENJOY CHRISTMAS! WHAT A CONCEPT!!!



I am doing my best to get EVERYTHING done in November, attacking a little day by day. The wrapping will be my toughest challenge to make myself get done but I need to do it so the gifts look amazing. Sometimes at the end of my marathon, end of December wrapping sessions things look nutty! LOL

How about you? Want to take the Christmas Pledge? How do you handle all of the holiday craziness?

Halloween Party Ideas 2015!

Every year we have a big Halloween Trick or Treat Party and every year it gets bigger and better!

This year I am having a Mexican food theme (dia de los muertos!). Here's my menu:

Appetizers:

Fabulous tamales from Corn Maiden
(My favorite is the roasted green chile and smoked gouda!)

Queso

Individual 7 later dips (from Pink Pistachio)



Main course:

Mexican Street Corn Salad (from Love Bakes Good Cakes)





Chicken Enchilada Casserole (from Gimme Some Oven)



Dessert:

White Chocolate Candycorn Blondies (from Averie Cooks)





And for the kids?
Quesadillas, Chicken nuggets and this skeleton crudites!!






Of course I am always looking to amp up the fun as well! Here are some amazing activities I am thinking about doing!

Pumpkin Bowling (from The Polo House)






Making Candy Corn Rocks (from Audiz Creations)



And maybe a Mini Haunted house??

More on that later!



Are you hosting a party? What's your plan?


What Do Your Kids Think Of You As A Parent? Interview them!

I love this idea from Joy In My Kitchen and I think it's brilliant!

Want to know what your kids think of you as a parent?  Or how much they know about you? It's fun to get their perspective.

Now this also may open a bit of a Pandoras Box...try to learn from it and not beat yourself up. After all being a Mom is TOUGH.

I'm going to interview mine and report back. Either way a fun experiment. TRY IT!

1. What is something I always say to you?

2. What makes me happy?

3. What makes me sad?

4. How do I make you laugh?

5. What was I like as a child?

6. How old am I?

7. How tall am I?

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not very good at?

13. What do I do for a job?

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of me?

16. If I were a character, who would I be?

17. What do we enjoy doing together?

18. How are we the same?

19. How are we different?

20. How do you know I love you?

21. What do I like most about dad?

22. Where is my favorite place to go?

23. How old was I when you were born? - See more at: http://joyinmykitchen.com/do-you-need-a-fresh-perspective-mom/#sthash.bqBUQRyR.dpuf
--> 1. What is something I always say to you?

2. What makes me happy?

3. What makes me sad?

4. How do I make you laugh?

5. What was I like as a child?

6. How old am I?

7. How tall am I?

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not very good at?

13. What do I do for a job?

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of me?

16. If I were a character, who would I be?

17. What do we enjoy doing together?

18. How are we the same?

19. How are we different?

20. How do you know I love you?

21. What do I like most about dad?

22. Where is my favorite place to go?

23. How old was I when you were born?


 Let me know how it goes!!!!
1. What is something I always say to you?

2. What makes me happy?

3. What makes me sad?

4. How do I make you laugh?

5. What was I like as a child?

6. How old am I?

7. How tall am I?

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not very good at?

13. What do I do for a job?

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of me?

16. If I were a character, who would I be?

17. What do we enjoy doing together?

18. How are we the same?

19. How are we different?

20. How do you know I love you?

21. What do I like most about dad?

22. Where is my favorite place to go?

23. How old was I when you were born? - See more at: http://joyinmykitchen.com/do-you-need-a-fresh-perspective-mom/#sthash.bqBUQRyR.dpuf

Mom Interview: Questions for A Fresh Perspective

I do not take credit for coming up with this idea. Apparently the questions have been making rounds within the web, though I only became aware of them recently. Enjoy! A printable copy is included at the end.
1. What is something I always say to you?

2. What makes me happy?

3. What makes me sad?

4. How do I make you laugh?

5. What was I like as a child?

6. How old am I?

7. How tall am I?

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not very good at?

13. What do I do for a job?

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of me?

16. If I were a character, who would I be?

17. What do we enjoy doing together?

18. How are we the same?

19. How are we different?

20. How do you know I love you?

21. What do I like most about dad?

22. Where is my favorite place to go?

23. How old was I when you were born?
- See more at: http://joyinmykitchen.com/do-you-need-a-fresh-perspective-mom/#sthash.bqBUQRyR.dpuf

Mom Interview: Questions for A Fresh Perspective

I do not take credit for coming up with this idea. Apparently the questions have been making rounds within the web, though I only became aware of them recently. Enjoy! A printable copy is included at the end.
1. What is something I always say to you?

2. What makes me happy?

3. What makes me sad?

4. How do I make you laugh?

5. What was I like as a child?

6. How old am I?

7. How tall am I?

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not very good at?

13. What do I do for a job?

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of me?

16. If I were a character, who would I be?

17. What do we enjoy doing together?

18. How are we the same?

19. How are we different?

20. How do you know I love you?

21. What do I like most about dad?

22. Where is my favorite place to go?

23. How old was I when you were born?
- See more at: http://joyinmykitchen.com/do-you-need-a-fresh-perspective-mom/#sthash.bqBUQRyR.dpuf

When Mom's Attack





Don't ever underestimate a mom. 

We have been through a lot and I don't just mean surviving high school. We have been brought to the brink of our sanity in many ways. Forgetful husbands, ungrateful kids, homework, meal planning, carpooling, and just trying to work out one or two times a week. We are the plate spinners you see in the circus.

We are tired and were PISSED.

Which is why it's easy to have a disagreement. Whether it's on the fundraising committee for your school in the carpool line, in the office, or in your spin class, some mom is trying to piss us off.

And sometimes we attack. We can't help ourselves. Sometimes it feels good to just go off the deep end.

I've been guilty of this. I have attacked on mom on occasion. While it offers some initial relief. Afterwards I just end up feeling awful. Like a mean bully. I've been on the other end of that as well and it is really heartbreaking and infuriating.

But what if?

What if we all assumed, just by virtue of being mothers, that we are doing the best we can and have the best of intentions. That we're all in this crazy mess together. That there is no need to tear another woman down because, in essence you're tearing us all down. Let's face it moms are running the world. And we are raising the next generation of mothers.

When we attack another mom or bully another mom, or hurt another mom what are we showing our girls?

Disagreements can be mended and fixed. You know what can't be fixed? Terminal cancer. The death of a child. Divorce.

I knew a mom in preschool once. She was lovely. She was a good mother. And she died of cancer. Her Facebook page is still there. Sometimes it comes up on my feed. I want to write something to her. Instead I just remember I'm lucky to be alive. And so are you.

So before that disagreement with that mom becomes out of control... Fix it... Mend it.... Talk it out. 

Treat her like you would want to be treated.

Or like you wish you were treated...

Because when you attack one mom....you attack us ALL.