Resolutions & Health Part 1

I'm not typically a resolutions girl.  I believe if you make a resolution just because it's the new year than you will never stick it.  For me if I want to make a change I will just commit to it regardless of the time of year.  However, using the new year as a fresh start is always nice.  I've been thinking for months and months about making a change to my morning routine.  Every morning is so chaotic no matter how much I prepare so finding some me time is a huge commitment.  But health has been on my mind a lot so I'm finally taking the plunge in starting my days differently.  I want to kickstart my mornings with light yoga, daily vitamins and a probiotic, a balanced breakfast, and a hot cup of tea (during the cold months). 

Stretching, meditating and balancing your mind and body is a great way to start the day.  It helps me to relax and focus on whats important instead of getting stressed by the hustle of the upcoming day. I'll be sharing more about my yoga routine soon.  After a light workout and getting ready I can't leave the house without food in my belly.  I'm trading in muffins and bagels for an apple with peanut butter or avocado toast for breakfast.  I am way too busy for a sickness to slow me down so being proactive about my health is a top priority.  I believe the gut is where it's at so a probiotic is essential to staying healthy.  I used to buy pills at the store but I recently found OLLY Quick Melt Probiotic Sticks.  Do you remember pixie sticks when you were a kid?  Well these taste just like those but instead of pure sugar you are getting your necessary daily dose of probiotics.  Even my kids love them; I'm pretty sure they think I'm giving them candy.  Their health is top priority for me as well so I'm thrilled to find OLLY which they take without any objections.  Another reason I love Olly over other brands is their travel convenience.  I travel frequently for work and I'm able to throw in a stick per day and take one each morning.

If you'd like to try OLLY before committing to a purchase click here for a sample.

Don't forget to grab your free sample here.

In Resolutions & Health Part 2 I will share how I'm finding fun in fitness and healthy food options that aren't bland or boring.

Christmas Vacation

I can't believe we are well into January already!  Emily went back to school yesterday and I actually wasn't ready.  I liked our leisure mornings compared to the chaos of getting out of the door every morning by 8.  Madi is already missing playing with her sister every morning.  We packed our Christmas vacation will all sorts of fun and little bit of R&R.  Every now and then I totally need to veg on the couch and recover.  Speaking of being a couch potato I spent a day doing just that watching This Is Us.  If you haven't watched this series yet catch it On Demand immediately.  It's seriously the best!  Back to our fun we spent the holidays with lots of family time.  Christmas was a whirlwind but a blast.  Kevin took the week off after Christmas and he and Emily rode their momo's twice, we played tons of games at home; Pie Face is a clear favorite, and we spent time with family and close friends.

The clear highlight of Christmas vacation was Christmas of course.  It was kicked off with Christmas Eve morning.  Jingle left a farewell note along with a camera for Emily to capture all the fun during the festivities. Emily thought she was IT walking around with a real camera taking pictures for two days.  

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day morning I made the girls Santa pancakes.

Christmas Eve we went to mass and then to Kevin's grandparents for dinner and presents.

Our traditions on Christmas Eve include reading The Night Before Christmas sitting around the tree, putting out cookies, milk, and carrots, and sprinkling reindeer food in the front yard.

Christmas morning was so much fun this morning because both girls were really into it.  However, Madi didn't totally get the cookies and milk thing.  She said, "someone ate some cookie!"  She thought they were supposed to stay there for her I suppose.

Daddy got a bow and arrow for Emily and she was ecstatic.  She cracked me up when she got all ready to go to Grandma's.  She's dressed up like a doll, has her American Girl Doll backpack on, purse with lip gloss in it AND her bow and arrow.  Talk about a well rounded little girl.  This does totally sum her up- loves to be girly but can get down and dirty!

Christmas Day afternoon we went to my mom's to open gifts, eat dinner, and get in the spa.  It was such a relaxing end to our holiday.

The girls got a teepee and Emily was dying to have a camp out so one night she and Lea spent the night in the teepee with their matching sleeping bags.

Gifts and playtime with the Serpa's was so much fun!  These girls have years of trouble ahead of them.

We played several rounds of Pie Face over vacation.  We enjoy many laughs.

It wouldn't be vacation without a little trip to Donut Fantasy and then a breakfast picnic at home.

We also did gifts with my sister and nieces and played games.  It was so much fun!

One night we rented a movie and the girls had a slumber party in the living room.  They didn't fall asleep till late and woke us up at 2 am because they wanted to move to their room.  Guess we will be waiting awhile until the next slumber party.

I missed taking a few photos of visiting with my brother and his family along with gift exchange with Uncle Mike and Auntie Brittany.

I am so thrilled we got so much quality time with friends and family over vacation.  That is what really matters to us and there's no gift as great as spending time together.
Hoping you had a blessed break as well and cheers to a new year!

How to Throw a Stress Free Party

1. Pick A Theme
Think outside of the box.  I'm always trying to come up with new ideas for a party; I like a party where there is an activity.  I don't really enjoy going to someones house, eating, drinking, and talking to a few people.  I want action!  Believe me I've thrown a traditional party in the past but some of my favorites include a holiday Minute to Win It game night and a Casino Night.  This holiday season I knew I wanted to have a party but I didn't quite know what I wanted to do.  Luckily, I was recently introduced to Cuvée Catering and it finally hit me that I needed to contact to Cuvée for my holiday party.  My theme for this party was a Mixology Class for an intimate group of girlfriends.

2. Pick your guest list and send invitations.
Think back to your theme and decide on your guest list.  Not every party includes all of your friends and family.  For example, my Casino Night was geared for friends both male and female.  But it wasn't for some of our family members.  This Mixology Class called for a small group because we would actually be hands on/behind the bar and I wanted to keep it to only girlfriends.
I think invitations set the tone for your party but if you are short on time or want to save money using an Evite is acceptable.  In this case I was very short on time so I had to do an Evite.

3. Plan Food and Drink
You need to determine if you are doing a sit down dinner or if you're doing apps or perhaps it's just desserts and drinks.  Time plays a huge part in picking food.  I've started a party at 7:30 pm so I served desserts and drinks.  However, if you're starting at 6:00 pm you need to serve something substantial enough to count as a meal.  Most parties call for apps, desserts (no there's never a time you don't serve something sweet, lol) and drinks.  I choose food based on seating arrangements.  For example, I knew I was going to have cocktail tables and barstools for this party so I was able to serve a salad along with appetizers.  If guests can not sit down then finger foods are best.  Make sure you think about hot vs. cold food.  I always try to do a combo because if you do all hot food you have to worry about baking everything at once and keeping it all warm.  Hot food is WAY harder to serve at a party than cold food which you can prepare ahead of time.  Don't plan 5 baked items if you only have one oven.  You'll figure out at the last minute that your apps will come out in shifts; I speak from experience:(
Again for drinks you need to think about the guest list.  When we have both males and females I typically make a signature cocktail, beer, and water.  Some parties also include alcohol and mixers for guests to make their own drinks.  I almost never have non-alcoholic options other than water- because who drinks that?!?!  Just kidding... I just think that's one area you can keep it simple.
For this party I got off very easy with alcohol because Cuvée Catering provided all of the drinks.  For food I served a couple of appetizers, a Chinese chicken salad, and a chocolate fondue bar.

4. Plan Decor
I love throwing a party during the holidays because my home is already decorated, but still more is needed.  I've gotten so busy lately that I just don't have the time or energy frankly for some of the work that goes along with decorating and throwing a party.  I eliminated all of the shopping and running around town by ordering all of the items from Expo Party Rentals.  You have the option of visiting their beautiful show room and working with a consultant but if you're like me and always pressed for time you can look online as well.  This is such an amazing option.  Once I picked out what I wanted I was able to work with a friendly and knowledgeable consultant over the phone.  She did all the leg work for me and the process couldn't have been easier.  All the items were delivered to my home and set up for me.  Could throwing a party get any easier?  Actually yes it can...after it was all over I didn't have any cleaning to do.  Expo Party Rentals came back to pick up all the rentals and I didn't have to wash one plate or launder one napkin or tablecloth.  I always dread the end of the party because the clean up is a nightmare.  When you rent all of your items you don't have to dread the end of the night.

5. Eat, Drink and Be Merry
The most important step to throwing a party is participating and enjoying the party.  This is where Cuvée Catering and Expo Party Rentals came in big time.  I've thrown so many parties where I feel like I'm hustling through the whole party.  This was the first time where I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy good company.  I highly recommend contacting Cuvée for your next gathering.  They have so many options and it will give you and your guests something you've never experienced.  They also take all the work off of your hands.  Furthermore, no matter what type of party you decide to throw you must contact Expo Party Rentals to handle all of the glassware, flatware, and linens.  Expo Party Rentals is offering a great deal for all my readers.  Use code Annie15 for 15% off your order.
{See below for all my party details}

I was so IMPRESSED with Cuvée Catering.  They brought in an entire bar and assembled it in my living room.  They brought a staff and all the bar essentials to make the Mixology class utterly perfect.

Expo Party Rentals provided cocktail tables, barstools, table cloths, sequin runners, napkins, plates, forks, and platters.  The quality was excellent; not like some rentals I've had in the past that look worn.  I kept the colors in line with my Christmas decor in my living room.

I was thrilled to see that Expo Party Rentals offered gorgeous pieces.  The flatware had a hammer detail and the plates had a double silver rim.  This details make the items feel like fine china, not rentals.

Some of my beautiful friends up at the bar...

Look at these gorgeous craft cocktails we made...

Sammy the bartender from Cuvée was hilarious, interactive, informative, and engaging.  He was the best teacher and we learned so much about crafting a cocktail and using items you have already in your bar and fridge.

I was lucky to be invited to an exclusive preview night at Expo Party Rentals to tour their showroom and learn about their services.  It was also that night that I was introduced to Cuvée Catering.  I was so excited to be invited because that night led to throwing the perfect holiday party.

The showroom is beautiful and impressive.  One of the most exciting options is "Rent the Setting" where your entire place setting is picked out for you, from table runner to silverware.  You can find all of the rental options on their website HERE.

Expo Party Rentals
Don't forget to use code Annie15 for 15% off your order.

Cuvée Catering

Mandi Stewart's Chloe & Isabel Boutique

This post is sponsored by Cuvée Catering, Expo Party Rentals and Mandi Stewart's Chloe & Isabel Boutique.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.