Favorite Things Party ~ Target Beauty Section Favorites

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hello friends! I hope you are all had a fun weekend and amazing start to your Halloween week.  We had a neighborhood Halloween party on Saturday and it was an absolute blast!  It was so nice to have a date night with the hubs and get out of the house just the two of us.  If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably saw a fun glimpse of my Flapper costume.

This picture of Jeff and I in our costumes makes me smile every time!  Today I am linking up with Erika and Andrea with our favorite things under $10.  I am a huge fan lately of a few items that I picked up in the Target Beauty Section this Summer and they have pretty much been my make-up staples since.  Both items give you just a slight hint of sun-kissed pink without making you look like a clown.  

The Master Glaze Blush by Maybelline in Just Pinched Pink is honestly the best blush I have ever tried.  I apply it lightly to my cheek bones with a beauty blender and it gives my cheeks healthy sun-kissed pink glow.


The Maybelline 24 Hour Color Tatoo Metal in Pink is the perfect eye shadow base.  It truly does live up to it's name and it stays on all day long as if it were tattooed on!  I apply a light coat to my lid with my fingertip and then swipe the residual under my brow which adds just the slightest hint of shimmer.  I feel like it really brightens up my face.  I will then use my favorite Mac Brown eyeshadow in Satin Taupe on the outer lid and crease.  Both shadows compliment each other so well!

Thank you so much for joining me today for the Favorite Things party.  I hope you all have an amazing week!

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All Things Loved in September

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hello friends!  I hope you all had an amazing weekend!  We were extremely busy on Saturday but enjoyed a low key kinda day on Sunday.  It was definitely a nice relaxing end to a pretty crazy weekend overall.   One thing I certainly missed during my blogging break were my All Things Loved posts.  These posts were a great way to recap our busy month and share all of the things I was obsessing about.   All wrapped up into one fun post!  I am truly excited today to jump right back in and talk about what I was loving in September!

{All Things Loved in September}
1. The Re-Launch of Karen At Home Blog
Can I just say again how good it feels to be blogging again?  Thanks to all of you who have commented and actually came back!  I really appreciate it and excited to catch up with all of you again.
2. Perfectly Posh's Sweet Dreams Ultra Hydrating Night Crème
Perfectly Posh Night Creme
I shared this on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago, but I’m so in love with this night Creme that I have to bring it to the blog, too!  The crème feels so cool and nourishing after I wash my face every night.  I have truly never been so excited to wash my face at night. The Perfectly Posh Night Creme is a natural, gentle, and hyper hydrating, wrinkle resisting night creme for face and neck.  In a future post, I hope to talk about my current skin care regime and the Perfectly Posh Sweet Dreams is certainly an important step in my routine!
3. Jillian is Back to School

As much as I love Summer, I was happy for Jillian to start Preschool again this September.  It feels good to be back into a routine and it actually forces me out of the house at an early hour.  While Jillian is at school, Nicholas and I will usually hit Target, the Grocery Store or run some other errand. Since Jillian is only at school for a little over 2 hours, most of the time it doesn't make sense for us to head back home.
4. The Beginning of Fall
Notice that this says "the beginning of Fall" as in the end of Fall is certainly not my favorite.  For Clevelanders, the end of Fall means the crazy start of Winter will be here shortly and I probably won't be seeing any of my neighbors or really anyone else for that matter for about 4 months.  Ugh! 
What I do love about the beginning of Fall is all of the fun activities we get to do with the kids.  We went apple picking with Jillian's preschool class and have also visited many pumpkin patches as a family. 
I now have more apples that I know what to do with and hope to make homemade applesauce in the crock pot this week.
I also love how the trees behind our home transform from Summer to Winter and hope to document this amazing transformation each month.  As  you can see in the picture below, the slightest bit of orange started to peek through at the tops of the trees on the left hand side at the end of September.

5. Jarlsberg Dip
I have shared on my blog before what a big snacker I am and this Jarlsberg dip does not help that habit.  I truly would rather eat dips and appetizers all day instead of an actual meal.  Please tell me I am not the only one!  In early September, a group of my Origami Owl sisters and I planned a girls day and toured a few local wineries.  Our limo was stocked with yummy snacks and this amazing dip was one of the things I just couldn't get enough of.  And it goes great with wine so it is definitely a winner in my book :)  Thankfully our local grocery store keeps several on hand and I have been picking up a new one almost every week. 
There were so many things that I was loving this month that it was hard to narrow it down to a short list!  What were you loving this September?
Thanks again to everyone who has stopped by and said hello.  I truly appreciate the warm welcome back into the blogging community!   
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The Direct Sales Mama ~ My Success Story

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hello friends!  I hope you are having an amazing weekend!  We are having picture perfect Fall weather and loving every minute of it.  I am often asked how I became "The Direct Sales Mama" and love sharing my story and success tips with anyone who asks.  I have a passion for inspiring women to believe in themselves by building their own Direct Sales businesses and have experience building teams of women all over the United States. I love helping others to realize their financial and personal goals which is what Direct Sales is all about! 

I began my Direct Sales journey when I attended a Thirty-One Gifts party in June 2011.  I immediately fell in love with the company and products.   I had been to several home parties in the past, however, never actually considered the possibility of joining a Direct Sales company. The thought never even crossed my mind!  I did not see myself as a sales girl and already had a very secure career as a Corporate Accountant.  I was also very shy, dreaded speaking in front of large groups, and loved the comfort of my little office cubical.  However, this time something felt different.  While at the party, I read a few of the heart warming testimonies printed in the catalog about how Thirty-One had changed their lives in so many ways.  I was intrigued by these women's success stories and thumbed through the catalog to read every one.  After placing my order, I decided to take the Thirty-One Gifts catalog home with me that evening instead of returning it to the consultant.  I know this sounds strange but something about Thirty-One Gifts spoke to me and I decided to talk to Jeff about the possibility of signing up to be a consultant.  Jeff and I were also in the process of trying for Baby #2 and I was struggling heavily with the guilt of being a working Mom. I told Jeff that I wanted to give it a shot and if it didn't work out, I had a bunch of cute bags to keep. If it did work out, this could possibly the answer I was looking for... a job with a flexible schedule that would allow me to stay at home with my kids.  No more daycare, no more germs, no more mommy/work guilt, etc. Sure, I wouldn't make the same amount of money at first as my steady corporate accounting job but the earning potential was there.   So I took the plunge and signed up!  Do you want to hear something completely crazy? I found out I was pregnant with Nicholas a few hours later.   I honestly felt like God was guiding me through my decision.   He knew the constant internal conflict and guilt I was always feeling as a working Mom and He provided. 

After a very successful career as a Thirty-One Gifts Consultant, I was introduced to Origami Owl® in 2013. I fell in love with the products and the opportunity to join a Direct Sales company in the early stages.   I also decided when I joined Origami Owl® to combine my passion of Direct Sales, Blogging and Social Media to create an Origami Owl® Blog.  I couldn’t think of a better way to share my journey, knowledge and passion with my team and other Origami Owl® Independent Designers.  I truly was living my dream every day by bringing together my love of Blogging, Social Media and Direct Sales into one amazing career!!!   
In my first year as an Origami Owl® Designer, I built a team of almost 300 amazing ladies, promoted 4 times and earned the title of the #2 Sponsor in the entire company.   I also qualified as one of the top 150 Designers to earn a trip for two to Cabo San Lucas. 

As if I didn't have enough on my plate, I decided in June 2014 to sign up as a Perfectly Posh Consultant after struggling with hormonal acne.  Perfectly Posh products are a high quality, pampering brand with amazing spa-quality products. They are free of parabens, paraffins, gluten and soy and were pretty much all I could use on my face for several months.  I absolutely love all of the products Perfectly Posh has to offer and am having a blast product testing each and every one.  If you would like to try a sample of a Perfectly Posh product, please click here to learn more. 

After three years of working in Direct Sales, I surpassed my Corporate Accountant’s salary and contribute to my family's financial income more than I ever did as a working Mom.  My Direct Sales journey has been an amazing one so far and I am loving every minute!  It is my personal goal to motivate and inspire women of all ages to achieve their dreams and empower them to make a difference in the lives of others through Direct Sales. My goal is to help other women achieve success and financial independence in building fabulous and profitable Direct Sales businesses. I look forward to sharing a few Direct Sales success tips through my Karen At Home blog.  I am proof that anyone can live the American dream of staying home with yours kids with the help of Direct Sales.

Are you involved in Direct Sales?  Please leave a comment below and share your journey with us, I would love to hear from you!
Want to follow me at The Direct Sales Mama on Social Media?  Find me on Facebook, Instagram and all Social Media at #thedirectsalesmama.

***The Direct Sales Mama Blog coming soon***
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Crockpot Chicken and Yellow Rice

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hi Friends, did you all have a good week?  We had some beautiful Fall weather here and tried to spend a lot of our time outside.  Jillian had a field trip to a local apple orchard and it couldn't have been a more perfect Fall day!  Trying to savor every moment of this beautiful sunshine before the cold weather sets in!!  Hoping every week this Fall is just as beautiful as it has been this week. 

Anyway, I wanted to blog about the yummy Crockpot Chicken and Yellow Rice I made a few weeks ago that I posted on Instagram and Facebook.  Several of you had asked about the recipe so here you go!  I originally found this recipe on Pinterest and couldn't wait to make it.  I love everything with cooked onion, rice and red pepper in it so it was definitely a now brainer to me when it came to pinning this! Yum!  I would have loved if I could have just thrown the raw rice into the crock pot along with everything else but do not believe this recipe would allow it.  Any Crock Pot experts out there want to let me know if you think it can be done?  Perhaps next time when I am feeling brave I will try it out!   Enjoy!!!
{What You Need}
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 large Yellow onion (chopped)
1 large Red Pepper (chopped)
Two 8 ounce boxes of Zatarain's Yellow Rice Mix (cooked)
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
 {How You Make It}

Place your chicken and onion in the crock pot along with the cans of cream of chicken soup.  Once the chicken is cooked through (around 2-3 hours on low), I cooked the boxes of Zatarain's Yellow Rice via the directions on the box.   Once the rice was cooked, I added it to the crock pot along with the corn and cheese.  Allow mixture to cook another hour in the crock pot.  Enjoy!! 
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Friday Favorites

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hello Friends! Happy Friday! I hope you are having a great week.  It has really started to feel like Fall this week and even broke down and turned the heat on this week.  We have had some CHILLY nights here in Cleveland and can't remember the last time we turned the heat on this early.  I am still pretty giddy about blogging again and kicking off the weekend by linking up with Erika from A Little Bit of Everything with a Friday Favorites post.

I am absolutely loving Jillian's new dance studio and so excited we made the switch this year.  It's everything I was hoping for and more.  Jillian is also noticeably happier and look forward to watching my little dancer every week!

I have been on a bit of a Pinterest kick lately and tried out an amazing new Crockpot recipe.  I plan on blogging about it next week, be sure to stay tuned.  Your taste buds will thank you!

Now that Jillian is back in preschool, I am able to renew my Dunkin Donuts addiction again.  Jillian's preschool is right around the corner from our local Dunkin Donuts and I usually treat myself at least once a week.  

Do you find 'Back to School' means 'Back to Fast Food'? I am finding now that we are out and about more with our new routine, it's easy to grab food on the go.  This week we decided to head to Chick Fil A after picking Jillian up from Preschool.  The kids were so excited I let them play for an extended amout of time, can't you tell?

Being a work at home Mom, I often find little gifts left for me in my office.  This week it was My Little Ponies.  I think they brightened up my desk, don't you?

Hope you ladies have a wonderful weekend!  Thank you so much for stopping by!

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The Re-Launch of Karen At Home Blog

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hello friends!!!  I am so excited to officially start blogging again.  It feels so good to be back and can't wait to dive back into it this Fall.  I am sure you all have been wondering what I have been up to although I have to wonder, is anyone still even here?  LOL!!!!  If you are, PLEASE leave me a comment and say hello so I can reconnect with my blogging friends.  I would love to see what you all have been up to. 

So let me catch you all up on what's been going on with me this past year.  I believe we left off with me kicking off my Origami Owl® business and trying to balance working from home and raising my two beautiful babies.  As you can see by the lacking of blogging, that pretty much took up all of my time and then some.  Something had to give and unfortunately it was my blog.  I have to admit, it was actually a nice break.  The stress of NOT blogging was starting to get to me, it was just something always on the back of my mind.  Once I made the decision that I had to give it up while I focused on growing my business, I felt better about things and I was finally OK that I was no longer blogging.  Or was I?  LOL!  I actually was STILL blogging, but for the purposes of growing my business.  I started a very successful blog for my Origami Owl® business and put my heart, soul and blogging skills into that blog for the last year and a half.  It turned out to be an amazing tool for my team to refer too on popular Direct Sales topics, training and team updates.  It was also a place for potential new team members to find out more about my Origami Owl® business and my amazing team, the Hoot Mamas.  I began my Origami Owl® career in January 2013 and in that time, I grew a team of 325 amazing ladies and earned Top 2 sponsor in the nation.  I still can not even believe I achieved such an award and beyond humbled that so many awesome ladies decided to join me in my journey.  I am sure you can now understand why I have been so busy this last 18 months!!!! 
Even though a lot of  time was spent growing my new business, my primary focus has always been on my kids, Jillian age 4 and Nicholas age 2.  They are the main reason I left my Accounting career to become a Stay At Home Mom and they will always be my first priority.  I some how manage to train and help my team right along side being at home with my two babies.   Every day is a new challenge trying to find that balance, but we make it work and I wouldn't have it any other way. 
In a nutshell, that has pretty much been what's been going on with me in the last 18 months, my business and my babies.   I have a lot more to share with you all but will update you as we move forward in my next chapter of blogging.  We have so many plans this Fall and Winter of updating the house since we are finally out of the "baby stage" and can't wait to share my projects with all of you.  I also plan on continuing my usual blogging topics of home décor, recipes, latest obsession, our life and also plan on adding in a few posts about how to successfully run a Direct Sales business.  I know of so many fellow Moms and Bloggers that run Direct Sales businesses out of their homes and would love to share a few of my tips with you.  I am so excited to be back, I hope you are all doing amazing and can't wait to reconnect with the Blogging community again.   Thank you so much for stopping by!!!!
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Coming Fall 2014...a Makeover of Karen At Home Blog

Saturday, August 09, 2014

It's time to dust of the ole blog with a whole new look and purpose....be sure to check back this Fall 2014 for the exciting reveal!
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Tips for Work At Home Moms

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hello friends!  Hope you all had a great weekend!  I posted this originally over at my Origami Owl Blog Hoot Mama Lockets and thought I would share it with you all.  Life is going well, hope to start blogging again in the future! 

We just returned home from Myrtle Beach, we spent the past week relaxing by the pool and at the beach playing in the sand.  We also ate out every night, it was great!  I didn't even have to cook :)  I had such a great time with my family, it was really hard coming back.  While we were driving the twelve hours home from Myrtle Beach, I had the idea of sharing my experience as a work at home mom and what has been working lately for me and what hasn't.  Being a work at home mom is certainly a work in progress and I know I have plenty to learn.  If you have any great tips to share, I would love to hear from you!

I honestly never dreamed that I would be a Stay At Home Mom.  In fact, just the opposite.  After college, I was as a Corporate Accountant and your typical career-oriented girl who prided herself on hard work.  Before we had kids, I was always one of the last people in my office to leave for the day.  Then I had my daughter Jillian and life as I knew it completely changed.

I returned to work after maternity leave and it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.  The first month back was a complete adjustment period, but even after a month I was still really struggling. I cried every morning when Jillian left for daycare and I couldn’t focus on my job at all. I’d sit in meetings, look at the people around me, but not really see them.  I would just think about how the things that were important to me before I left for maternity leave were so insignificant to me now.  Nothing was as important as being with my little girl. Eventually I stuck it out and got into a new routine and tried to embrace our new normal.  After two very long years as a working mom, I gave birth to my son Nicholas and made the decision once and for all to leave my career.  There was no way I could leave both of my babies.  It was the best decision of my life.

I was introduced to Direct Sales when I wasn't even looking for a new career.  I went to a friend's home party one evening and read the testimonials in the catalog from the other Sales Consultants on how Direct Sales had changed their lives and how they could now afford to stay home with their children.  I had been to a million home parties in the past but after reading those testimonials, they suddenly had my attention.  At the time I was still struggling with the working Mommy guilt and all of a sudden something in me just clicked.  I could do this too! I decided to take a leap of faith and signed up as a sales consultant.  A few days later, I found out I was pregnant with my son. During my pregnancy, I continued to work both my full time job and build my business with the ultimate goal of me eventually leaving my full time job to stay home.  And I accomplished just that!  Jillian is now 3 and Nicholas is 1 and I am running two successful businesses from home.  How did I do it?  With a lot of courage, hard work and the support of my husband, I am living my dreams every day.  I am certainly no expert on working from home but I hope to share with you what has worked for me and has not.

When it comes to being a work at home mommy, my first priority is always my kids.  I do struggle a lot with trying to give my kids individualized attention while also providing excellent customer service and leadership to my hostesses, customers and my team.  I am always looking for new ways to continuously improve my current methods and try to quickly remedy what isn't working.  
Keep in mind with what I am about to share with you is that I have two very small children who need constant supervision.  The two of them are constantly in motion, two mini-tornadoes leaving destruction in their path everywhere they go.  Even the easiest of tasks that would normally take five minutes take an hour when you have two young children around demanding your undivided attention.  Because of this I try to get as much work done as I can while they are asleep.  This is where it gets tricky, my kids never nap at the same time.  One of them is always awake.  For the life of me, I could never sync their naps up.  Jillian only naps 1-2 times a week between 2:30-5pm and Nicholas is in a bit of a transition with his nap. Some days he takes one mid day nap and other days he takes two small naps, one in the late morning and another in the late afternoon.  It all depends how early he gets up in the morning.  With this unpredictable nap schedule with my kids, it's in my best interest to either get up before they do and work an hour before they wake up or work at night after they have gone to bed.  However, direct sales is normally conducted for most people during the working hours of 9am - 5pm or after dinner from 6pm-8pm.  Because of this, I have no choice but to complete some of my work while they are awake.  And that my friends normally ends up looking like this:

I do try to make most of my calls when Nicholas is napping and not clinging to my leg.  Jillian is a little better than her brother when I get on the phone and I always make sure she is being entertained by a TV Show or iPad before picking up the phone.

Here is the schedule of a typical day for me:
7pm Wake up as Jeff is getting ready to leave for work.  I make myself a cup of coffee, grab a Nutri-grain bar, and head to my office.  First, I review my to-do list and prioritize the 5 most important things that I would like to accomplish that day.  I write them down on the white board in our kitchen command center so I can look at it throughout the day. I then respond to emails and Facebook messages.  If the kids are still asleep, I start trying to accomplish my top 5 to-do list items focusing on the ones that are easiest to accomplish without the kids around.

8am - 9am  The kids start waking up and I leave my office for the moment.  I give Nicholas his morning bottle and fix Jillian her breakfast.  

While the kids are eating I turn on Disney Junior and start planning out the rest of my day.  

9am - 10:00am I take the kids upstairs to get them and myself dressed.  We stay upstairs a bit while the kids play in their rooms and I put away a basket of laundry.

10:00am - 11:30am We head back downstairs to play a bit more.  I try to squeeze in a phone call and answer a few quick emails.  I write up a quick post on my Facebook fan page and check my team message boards for any updates.

11:30am - 1:30pm I give Nicholas a bottle and he goes down for a nap.  Jillian plays a bit in the toy room or Disney Junior games on the computer.  I squeeze in another phone call and email before I start making lunch.  

1:30pm - 2pm Nicholas wakes up from his nap and I give him the left over lunch I made for Jillian and I.  

2pm - 4pm Jillian seems tired but not enough to go down for a nap so I decide its a good day for me to drive around town to drop off a few customer orders and a party that I had bagged up the night before.  Sure enough, Jillian passes out in the car and takes a nap.  Product drop offs are great for nap time, I run out of my car and leave the order on the front porch or with my customer and jump right back in the car.  I also use drop off time to return a few phone calls while the kids are sleeping in the car.  Multi-tasking at its best!  Jillian wakes up after I have completed my drop offs so I decide to stop by the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner.

4pm-5:30pm After we arrive home the kids and I will read a few books and play a bit more.  At 5pm I give Nicholas a bottle and then prepare our dinner. The kids play in the toy room while I continue to cook dinner.  I squeeze in another phone call and check Facebook to see if I missed any important updates on my team message boards.  I answer a few questions that my team has asked me and then return to making dinner.

6pm-7pm Jeff arrives home from work and we all sit down for dinner together.

7pm-8:30pm Jeff plays with the kids while I call one of my hostesses to close out her party.  After a 30 call with my hostess,  we decide to get out of the house for a quick walk around the neighborhood.

8:30pm - 9:30pm Time to give the kids a bath and get them ready for bed.  Jeff will take Jillian and put her to sleep while I give Nicholas his bedtime bottle and put him down.

10pm - 11pm I unwind from my day and hang out with Jeff on the couch.  Some evenings I spend this entire time with Jeff on the couch watching TV.  Other nights I use this time to bag up a party in the same room with Jeff so we can still hang out or I will head to office to work for an hour.  I always try to get to bed by 11pm with Jeff.  I try not to let work interfere with the rare hour in the evening that Jeff and I get to ourselves.  This is why it's key that I get up in the morning before the kids are up.  Problem with that is I am not a morning person at all but being a work at home mom is helping me to be.  Those rare morning hours when the kids are still asleep are precious to work at home moms!

{What hasn't worked for me}

1. Staying up Late.  I am a night owl and  more productive at night, however, being a night owl only works for those who can sleep in the next day.  I do not do well on less than 8 hours of sleep and make myself go to bed at 11pm.  I could easily stay up until at least midnight but I have two small alarm clocks that will not allow me to sleep past 8am.  I have found too that if I work too long before bed, I have a hard time turning my brain off.  I am not able to fall asleep right away and I toss and turn thinking about what else I need to do.  Before I know it, I have wasted a good hour of precious sleep thinking about my businesses.  I also don't like going to bed after Jeff and sacrificing that quality time laying in bed watching the evening news.

2. Trying to accomplish tasks that really should be saved for child free times.  Calling a hostess right before lunch time or going through an order while both kids are awake only results in errors and a bad experience for my customers.  This also takes away from quality time I can spend with my kids or deviates from their schedule, which isn't good for any body.

3. Scheduling too many parties in a month.  Although I would love to have as many parties as possible a month, my young family does not do well when I schedule more than four parties.  This averages to about one a week.  I have learned to say 'No' and push parties into the next month if I have to.  I absolutely hate saying no, I am too much of a people pleaser but I have learned the hard way. Scheduling more than four parties a month and my family suffers.  Jeff is supportive but even he has limits!

{What has worked for me}

1. Getting up before the kids.  Right now I get up an hour before them, ultimately I would love to turn this into two hours.  In reality, any time you can work while the kids are asleep is going to be the most productive.  

2.  Bagging up customer orders when the kids are asleep.  I love having all of my party and individual customer orders sent to me unless the customer or hostess lives over 30 minutes away.  I like quality checking the shipments to note any missing or back ordered items.  I also love bagging up the orders and adding a personal touch.  I provide my customer with a thank you letter and additional information about any specials going on or joining my team.  I also include a copy of their receipt along with my business card.  I have tried doing this when the kids are awake and it never ends well.  My kids try playing with all the items or require my attention and I lose my focus.  This has resulted in customers receiving the wrong item or I write the wrong name on a bag.  Completely embarrassing!  My biggest priority is to keep mistakes to a minimum, being a work at home mom requires second to none multi-tasking skills and I do everything I can to eliminate mistakes that could have been easily avoided by completing the task while the kids are asleep.

3. Product drop offs during afternoon nap time.  I only do product drop offs this 1-2 times a week and afternoon nap time is a great time to do this.  Usually one of my babies if not both will fall asleep during this time.  It's a great time to get my drop offs accomplished, I am working but they are also napping.  Win-win!

4. Voicemail!  I screen the majority of my business calls unless I know the exact reason for the call. This way I can make the judgement call if this is something I need to address it right away or if it can wait until nap time or product drop off time.  Usually I can respond quickly through a text or email.  If its something that needs addressed immediately, I return the call right away and pray the kids don't act up.
5. Have an organized home office.  I always try to work with a clean and organized home office.  I am the type of worker that needs a clean desk to be productive.  If my desk is cluttered, my mind feels cluttered too.  It's also helpful to have your hostess kits and recruiting packets pre-made.  That way if you need to put one in the mail, it takes all of five minutes to grab one, address the envelope, and walk out to the mailbox all while both kids are awake.

6. Kitchen Command Center.  I bought this Kitchen Command Center from Kohl's a few months ago and I can not even begin to explain how this one product has helped get us organized.  Each member of the family is assigned a different dry erase marker.  Everyone knows appointments in red are Mommy's Home Parties.  Jeff checks the calendar each morning and can see what we have going on for the day and if he needs to be home on time so I can head out to a party.  Another key feature to my Kitchen Command Center is the dry erase board to the right of the calendar.  This is wear I jot down the top 5 things I want to accomplish in my day and I scratch them off as they are completed.  I am totally a list girl and love to see those items marked off my to-do list!
7. Help.  I am very blessed that my Mother-In-Law comes over on Mondays and watches the kids for a few hours so I can get some work done.  This is where I try to get all of my weekly tasks done that I have saved up that I haven't been able to scratch off the to-do list.  I also will use this time to run a few errands like grocery shopping, the post office, Kinkos and product returns at the UPS store.  Jeff has also been a huge help in watching the kids when I need to call a potential recruit or a hostess to close out her party.  I try not to enlist Jeff's help too often because I don't want too many business tasks to interfere with family time.
8. Amazon.com.  This one may sound a bit surprising but trust me here.  We purchase the Amazon Prime each year for free and expedited shipping and it is worth it's wait in gold!  Amazon sells every office product imaginable and cheap!  If I run out of printer toner or Avery Labels, I can place an order on Amazon.com and have it the next day.  It's fantastic! One less errand I have to drag both kids out to the store.  I also have a file folder that I keep all of my Amazon.com receipts them which makes it easy during tax time.
9. Minimize Distractions.   It's so easy to get lost in Facebook and other social media throughout the day.  I find myself checking my Team Facebook groups and before I know it a half hour of rare, childfree time has gone by and I have scratched nothing off my to-do list.  Try not to get sucked into the Facebook black hole, especially during those precious hours when your kids are asleep.  If you need to post something important, focus on the task at hand an then completely log off.  Don't jump to your news feed that is full of mindless distractions.  
10. Have Realistic Expectations.  I try to accomplish those top 5 to-do items at some point during the day, however, life happens and your day gets completely away from you.  Before you know it, your day has passed an its already time to make dinner.  Don't let your untouched to-do list cause you unnecessary stress.  Your primary goal is your kids, to make sure they are well rested, fed on time, and given the attention they deserve.  After all, isn't that why you wanted to stay at home in the first place?

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Life Lately

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hello friends! I hope you are all doing well! Things have been just so busy lately that blogging has taken more than just a back seat, it's just plain non-existent lately. I would love to blog a little more, Summer has finally arrived here in Cleveland and I want to do better at capturing these precious moments with my family. My goal is to start blogging at least once a week, lets hope that works out!   I am at that point that I don't know where to start up again so this post is going to be full of the most random thoughts as I try to find my way back to the blogging world.  

Remember back in January when I wanted 2013 to be all about balance? Well, that just went out the window. I have been SO busy with both Thirty-One Gifts and Origami Owl lately that I don't have much time left to breath. I am so blessed to have two successful business but its been almost a little too busy!  Busy doesn't even explain it!  April was full of parties, vendor events and team meetings so I am trying to say no to any more parties this month and focus on both my teams.  Just trying to keep life at a more manageable pace.  It was just starting to burn my whole family out and that is not what I want at all for my businesses. Jeff enjoyed a lot of one on one time with the kids but he too was getting a bit burned out.

As you can see, this is what happens when Daddy baby sits and Mommy is out at a party for the night.

Daddy needs a break too! The beauty of being a direct sales consultant is that when things get crazy, you can make your own schedule and get a handle on things quickly. Which is exactly what I am now trying to do right now.

So what HAVE we been up to lately?

{The Babies}

Nicholas is walking and growing up right before my eyes. He is less baby and more toddler and its just unbelievable. I love this little guy so much and the feelings are clearly mutual. Although my little guy has found a new independence with walking, he is still Momma's boy and won't let me out of his sight for a moment. He is such a fun loving little guy, he loves balls and animals, especially dogs. He is just so sweet!  He also has the sweetest little curls in the back of his head. I haven't even scheduled his first hair cut yet because I don't have the heart to cut those little baby curls. So he will be a little on the shaggy side until he starts looking more like an 80's rocker than a toddler. Nicholas has also been teething a lot lately, to a point where I spent more nights awake then sleeping. This conveniently happened right in the middle of the Origami Owl Mother's Day craziness and my sanity was just hanging by a thread most days. Thankfully he seems to be more comfortable and sleeping better.

Jillian is such a big girl! She is finally at a stage where I can leave her be for a few minutes and not have to worry about her hurting herself or her brother. I can go upstairs and take a shower and not have to worry. What a great feeling for any Momma! Of course I have to take the little man upstairs with me but at least it's one less child to worry about and there is finally more showering going on. One of these days I can shower at a reasonable pace during the day and without the stress of wondering what trouble my kids will get themselves into.   Jillian is still not potty trained yet which is concerning but we are slowly taking baby steps in that department. It's not that she doesn't know how, she just too stubborn and doesn't want to be bothered with it. She is so like her Momma, hates being told to do something and has to do it on her time when she is ready. Oh boy, are we in trouble!  Jillian is going to pre-school in September so potty training is no longer going to be an option but a necessity very soon.   I am trying not to stress out about it and hopefully it all works out in time.  One thing I have learned that now that I am a SAHM is that Jillian doesn't see other kids going on the potty so there is no incentive for her to be a "big girl". We have tried everything to encourage her and she is just so not impressed. Stickers, new toys, extra privileges.....doesn't care. She doesn't want to be bothered with any of it.   Although we have been fighting the potty training battle lately, my little princess has been so sweet lately and too has been going through a but of a Momma's girl phase. I am so blessed to have two wonderful babies to spend my days with!

{The House}

Despite of being very busy, I have actually accomplished two house projects that I have been wanting to do.   A photo wall and my Mommy Command Center.   I really hope to do posts on each of these items but for now will just give you a sneak peek. My photo wall is still a work in progress, I need to order a few more prints and possibly change out a few frames but its up and I love it!

The second house project is my Mommy Command Center.   With all my parties and vendor events with Thirty-One and Origami Owl, the kids activities and appointments and other random events going on, this command center has helped us out tremendously. It is by far my most favorite thing in the house right now.  It also has a white board where I want to start using for menu planing.

So that is pretty much it, I feel like I am just trying to survive each day. I would love to start going to bed earlier because I have been so tired lately but night time is the only time I get anything done and find myself awake until 11:30. I am just plain exhausted in the morning then when my kids get up Please tell me I am not alone here. Any suggestions?

I hope you are all doing well, for those who have stuck around, thank you! I don't want to give up the blog, it will always be a part of me like it has been for years. I am just living life more lately than writing about it.
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Love & Marriage: In The Beginning

Monday, April 08, 2013

Hello friends and Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a great weekend, the weather actually warmed up here in Cleveland and we enjoyed some time outside.  It was wonderful, the Winter just didn't seem to want to leave us this year! 

To all of you still reading my blog, thank you!  It's been busy here and again, blogging seems to be taking a back seat to pretty much everything these days.   However, I really wanted to participate in the Love and Marriage series that a few of my long time favorite bloggers have put together.  I feel that focusing on a strong marriage is so important, especially with kids, and I thought it would be fun to write a few posts about Jeff and I.  After all, Jeff and I were the focus of this blog in the very beginning!

The first post in the Love and Marriage series is all about how you began as a couple and to share your history.  I have talked a little bit on the blog about how Jeff and I met but wanted to give you in the depth scoop for those of you who may not know! 
Jeff and I met in the Fall of 2000.  I was 26 and he was 27.  I had just left a two year job with Ernst and Young that involved a hectic daily commute to downtown Cleveland and a lot of client travel to other areas of the country. I was really looking forward to a job where there was little travel and I didn't have to pay every day to park!!!  I was also entering a time in my life where I wanted to be more settled.  I enjoyed my early twenties as a new college grad and loved the lifestyle as a single, career gal.  I spent a lot of time shopping and hanging out with friends and felt myself finally growing up and longing for a more simpler lifestyle.   I decided to leave my job at Ernst & Young and was hired by Progressive Insurance as a Corporate Accountant.   I was really looking forward to a new beginning in my career with a new company. Little did I know that it would also be a new chapter in my life for other reasons!

The first day of my new job, my co-worker took me on a tour of the building and introduced me to all of the individuals that I would be working with.  One of those people that I was introduced to was Jeff!  I specifically remember meeting Jeff that day.  He was the total package: good-looking, smart and successful.  I thought he was simply adorable and remember looking at the picture of the baby girl on his desk.  I also found myself looking for a wedding ring on his hand as he shook mine, hoping the baby girl was not his.  Sure enough, no wedding ring and I later found out that the baby was his new niece.  The funny thing was, I already had a boyfriend so I was surprised that I was so drawn to my new co-worker anyway.
Over the next few months, I had gotten to know several of my co-workers.  There were a group of us who were unmarried, in our twenties, and enjoyed going out for happy hour after a long work week on Friday's.  Jeff would often be a part of that group and I got to know him a bit through working together and at happy hour.  I found myself becoming more and more interested in him.  It also helped that my current relationship was not going well at all and it was only a matter of time before I decided to end it.  Looking forward to living the life of a single girl again, I focused on my career and renting an apartment with my sister who had recently graduated from college.
A few weeks after breaking up with my boyfriend, Jeff had stopped by my cubicle to chit chat like he normally would and out of the blue asked "Can I take you to dinner this weekend?"  I was completely blown away, so shocked that I asked "What?"  Not that I hadn't heard him, it was just my natural reaction of both shock and disbelief.  So he repeated himself and asked me again.  Little did I know that he had been interested in me too and was just waiting for me to break up with my boyfriend.  To this day, Jeff still gives me a hard time that I made him ask me out twice.   He was so nervous, asking me the first time was hard enough!  He told me that he thought I was buying time to come up with an excuse to turn him down which was so not the case!  Ha!
Jeff and I had a wonderful first date and were together ever since.  We both shared the love of Cleveland sports, trying out new bars and restaurants, skiing and traveling. This is a picture of Jeff and I at a rooftop bar on top of the Palm's Casino in Las Vegas.  We loved traveling together and spent a lot of time planning fun little trips for us to take.  Jeff and I also shared similar values and how important our families were to us.  Needless to say, Jeff and I had a wonderful time dating.  A little too much fun.  We dated for almost four years before we FINALLY got engaged on my 30th birthday in 2004. 
Jeff and I were married on August 27th 2005.  It was a long time coming but so worth the wait!!!  It's hard to believe we will be celebrating 8 years of marriage this year.    Life with two kids is crazy but wonderful!  Marrying Jeff has literally made all of my dreams come true.  A few of my favorite memories of our marriage so far is building our dream home in 2007,

the birth of our daughter, Jillian, in 2009 after three years of infertility,

and the birth of our son Nicholas in 2012.

I am living the life I have always dreamed of.  Although life does not always go according to plan, I can truly appreciate how everything came together in God's time.

If you are interested in participating in this blogging series of Love and Marriage, please visit here to link up.

Have a wonderful week! 
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Easy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hi Friends, did you all have a nice weekend?  We had some beautiful Spring-like weather here on Sunday and were able to open the windows to air out the house for a few hours.  It was heavenly and really got me in the mood for what was to come.  We also walked around the neighborhood all after noon catching up with the neighbors and getting some exercise.  It felt so good to be outside!!! 

On Friday, I made one of my family's "go to" meals for Lent - Home made Macaroni and Cheese.  This meal is the ultimate in comfort food and perfect during the Winter or for any Friday during the Lenten season.  It is also SO good and really easy too!

 1 lb Elbow Macaroni
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1/2 Cup Melted Butter
4 Tablespoons Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
4 Cups Milk
2/3 lb Velveeta
Deep Dish Pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook your Elbow Macaroni el Dente, drain, and set aside.  While the macaroni is cooking, saute butter and onions until lightly brown in a deep dish pan on stove top.  Lower heat if needed.  To make your cheese sauce, slowly add milk, salt and flour to the browned onions.  Add the Velveeta cheese by cutting into strips for easy melting .  Stir thoroughly and often so the cheese sauce does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.  I will often use a whisk to stir the sauce to keep the flour from clumping.  Grease a 9x13 glass casserole dish and add your pasta.  Then add your cheese sauce over the pasta, stir thoroughly.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until you see your casserole bubbling in the middle. 
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