Angela & Erica
As I sit here at my computer, finally booted up after a few days with no power ready to type up a blog post that was scheduled to be posted yesterday, I find myself telling a different story. Mother Nature rarely shows her fury in the town that Erica and I live in. Sure, we have large snow storms, excessive heat, and flooding but nothing like the weather we seen Tuesday. From what has been reported we did in fact witness a tornado, which in our area is few and far between. Although there was damage this tornado was nothing like the natural disasters we see on the news, it was still an awakening.
As many of us received alerts on our phones, the storm was right behind. The sky was black and the winds picked up so fast, I barely managed to get the kids in the house. You can truly understand how people can not get to safety fast enough. As fast as it came that's how fast it left and when we went outside to survey the damage it looked like my daughter's Lego Town after her sister gets finished playing with it. But we were also greeted with a beautiful RAINBOW!
Over the next few days we were without power or cell service and my initial Freak Out mode was soon under control as I began to see the good that came from the storm. I took this time to be with my kids in a way that I am embarrassed to say rarely happens. Without the cell phone constantly buzzing and dinging and the extra chatter of the TV in the background ,I was able to really talk to and play with my kids and they were able to do the same with me and each other. We went outside and cleaned up our house together and they had so much fun doing it that they continued on to our neighbors. At night we stayed up late played flash light tag, a completely new phenomenon to them but the most exciting thing this week. And when my daughter lost her first tooth last night we were all there show our excitement for her. Taking a picture on the actual camera, rather than the phone and posting to Facebook, we shared that moment together and made it last, my proud mom moment had to wait.
I seen many electrical crews and police officers out that first night, working extra hours to make sure everyone was safe. As I drove to the store the next day, I thought about how thankful I am that no one was badly injured in this storm and although there would be repairs and rebuilding on some houses and roads, that it was beautiful, sunny day to start that clean up. It wasn't humid or cold or stormy and being without AC or heat didn't seem so bad. Almost all of my neighbors had been lent a generator up and running by the next morning including myself, and those who didn't carried their food to their neighbors fridge. I was asked by at least 10 people to come have my family take a shower or use their phones, even though a fridge full of spoiled food, a cold shower and no cell phone was nothing of concern in the scheme of things. I heard stories of a local hardware store flagging people from driving cars, helping them into the store's conference room, although they had been told to lock the doors. Seeing people come together to help each other is something that has warmed my heart.
I know that our "Big Storm" does not range on the disaster and devastation that other parts of our country and the world see. I know that losing power for a few days is nothing compared to what others have gone through. I know that I am lucky to have a home that's still standing and my family is intact. But in this world where we see horrible stories of hate from this social, religious and racial divide we have created so present in our lives; where you have to look hard to find the good stories; seeing neighbors helping each other is a Beautiful Thing!
Angela & Erica
It’s hard to believe that 7 years have past since our Collin was born. In the blink of an eye he became a beautiful, thoughtful, dramatic, unpredictable, snuggly, artistic young boy. As parents, we are suppose to teach our kids about life but what I have learned is that our kids teach us just as much and Collin has taught me the most.
I remember the day I had him like it was yesterday. One minute I was questioning if I was in labor and the next I was cursing up a storm and hoping he would not be delivered in the car on the way to the hospital. He had his mind made up he was coming out (a little foreshadowing on his personality). By the grace of God, he waited just long enough for me to receive my epidural and 2 hours after getting to the hospital at 8 centimeters, Collin John was born.
I remember crying happy tears that I have another healthy boy added to our growing family and he was born with an automatic best friend, his big brother Chase. Only 17 months apart and they look nothing alike and their personalities couldn’t be any more different. But nevertheless, after 7 years together they laugh, fight, scheme, and are roomies. Add 2 more boys to the mix and I have a beautiful family of little men.
Collin has taught me so much. No book or parenting advice could have prepared me for him and I am so grateful for the lessons on patience, love and persistence he has given me. Collin is one tough boy and gives a whole new meaning to, “never give up”. I am so happy for who he is and I am so curious on the man he will one day become. But before I jump too far ahead, I look forward to each day being his mama and the one he loves snuggling with!!
Happy 7th Birthday Collin John!! I hope you have the best day celebrating on the beach, eating a cheeseburger and stuffing your face with a big piece of cake with lots of icing!! I love you more then you will ever know!!
Today is the last day of school for our kids. That means these past couple of days have been nothing but fun at school as the kids gear up for summer. These are the times to make memories and enjoy their excitement. The moms on our bus stop decided to have a treat for the kids when they get off the bus today...what’s better than a Sundae Bar to kick summer off right? But us moms also need a treat and at our bus stop we will be serving Summer Sangria...Yum!
Here’s What You Need:
1 Bottle of White Wine (today I’m using a Pinot Grigio)
About ¼ Cup Triple Sec
1 Large Orange Sliced
8-10 Strawberries Quartered
2 Plums Sliced
2 Peaches Sliced
About 2 Cups of Lemon Lime Soda chilled (Sprite or if you don't like as much sweetness lemon lime seltzer water)
Here’s What You Do:
Add the wine, triple sec and fruit in a pitcher and chill for at least 2 hours. Before serving add the soda, so it doesn’t go flat, and pour over ice. It absolutely does not get Any Simpler or Happier than that!! Make sure you grab your Simply Happy glass for the summer!
We hope you start your summer off Simply Happy!
Angela & Erica
This week Simply Happy Brand was so excited to launch our kids unisex Young, Brave & Happy Tee. Being moms getting our kids dressed in the morning is our biggest battle. I don’t know about you but whether I pick out their outfits the night before or in the morning I’m still going to war with one of them. My girls spend 10 minutes just picking out their accessories! But a tee is something we can always agree on, which is why Erica and I knew we had to do a kids shirt! And just like tees for us moms, we can easily dress them up and down on our kids.
These are just a few fashion tips that inspired our Young, Brave & Happy kids style:
Definitely my Warrior Princess, I paired our kids tee with Aztec print “soft shorts” from Target. Angie loves to accessorize so she chose an aqua beaded headband from Charming Charlie’s and a suede wrap bracelet from Little Lux Boutique. Her sandals are colorful woven leather made by Steve Madden and bought at Marshall's.
Being the youngest has made Christopher tough but although he may be surrounded by girls he is just as stylish. Our Young, Brave & Happy tee goes perfectly with his blue micro checked cargo shorts from Gap Kids. Boys can accessorize too! We added his cool blue aviator shades from Nordstrom.
Isabelle is the free spirit of the three, we can always count on her to make us laugh and that shows in her style. Her flower gem denim frayed shorts from Justice are a favorite of hers and is the perfect touch of Happy! Her Minnetonka 3 Layer Fringe Boots were a bit of a splurge but these really are three season boots which can be worn in the fall, winter and spring and her brown braided headband from Charming Charlie’s matched perfectly.
Erica’s little guy, Corey is the true inspiration of our tee, as he runs around happy and carefree in blue denim DKNY jeans from TJMaxx. It doesn’t get any easier than jeans and a tee but his simply style makes him the cutest little guy Ever!
We love that our kids tee is 100% organic cotton, feels great, sends a Positive Message and Gives Back! Purchase your Young, Brave & Happy tee today and don’t forget to send us pictures of your little one wearing it!
Angela & Erica
In our fast paced lives of being mothers most days spent running around trying to beat the clock. But I have realized in my life that I need to take a few minutes (and I mean few) to regroup and bring my stress level down. Making sure you take some time to recollect yourself is important; for some people an afternoon coffee or reading a few minutes before bed is just what they need, for me a few minutes of Yoga helps make my day go a lot smoother. Here are a few of my favorite poses to Ease My Mind and Lower My Stress and Fuel My Soul:
Childs Pose: This is kind of an obvious one since it is considered a resting position. It quiets your mind and gently stretches your back and is like a little time out for the body.
Get on the floor in kneeling position; touch your toes together, sit on your heels and then open up your thighs. On an exhale bend from the hips down stretches your arm out with palms facing down. You can hold this pose from 30 seconds to 3 minutes breathing easy.
Standing Forward Bend: Along with reducing stress this pose is said to alleviate menopause, fatigue and mild depression. It stretches your hamstring, thighs and hips.
Stand up tall with feet together, on an exhale bend from the hips reaching your palms to the floor. With each exhale lengthen you back. This pose can be held from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Be sure to bend back up from the hips.
Cobra Pose: This is actually my number one favorite pose for my back and neck. This pose also relieves fatigue and is said to soothe asthma.
Lie face down on the floor, pressing your feet, shins, thighs and hips to the floor. Press your palms to the floor on your side near your chest and lightly squeeze your elbows in. On an inhale lift your chest off the floor rounding your back. Hold this pose 15 to 30 seconds, releasing on an exhale.
Dolphin Pose: I find this pose very relaxing, giving me that little extra brain flow. It is said to help alleviate menopause and menstrual symptoms as well as headaches.
Kneel down on all fours placing your forearms down on the floor and stacking (not interlacing) your hands. Tuck your toes under and on an exhale lift knees up and ankles in so your feet are flat on the ground. Hold your head between your arms without letting it hang heavy. This pose can be held for 30 seconds. Make sure you release by bending your knees onto the floor on an exhale.
Seated Forward Bend: I often find myself having trouble sleeping. This pose is thought to help with insomnia along with reducing anxiety.
Sit on the floor with legs extended out and feet relaxed, sitting up lengthening the torso. Place palms to the floor next to your hips. On an inhale bend from the hips lengthening back and reaching arms out towards your feet keeping elbows straight. While breathing lengthen the torso on inhales and pushing into the bend on exhales. You can hold this pose 1-3 minutes and be sure to pull torso up on exhale to release.
Salutation Seal Pose: This pose is said to increase awareness, decrease anxiety and open up the heart.
Sit on the floor in a modified “crisscross applesauce” where you place the out portion of your toes in between the opposite thigh and calf. Place your palms together firmly with equal pressure with thumbs out resting on your sternum lifting chest into the thumbs lengthening your back. You can breath easy in this position for 5 minutes clearing your mind.
Your kids can also try modified versions to do with you, my kids love telling people they do yoga! Also check out www.yogajournal.com for some other great poses. I love this website; you can look up poses by your need! So, the next time your day has you running in circles take a few minutes out to do one or all of these poses. The chaos can a few minutes while you regroup and calm down.
Angela & Erica
Note: We are not licensed yoga instructors or advanced students. These poses were based on our personal preferences only. Be Sure to check with your doctor before participating in any new activity.
Today is National Best Friends Day and today is the perfect day to remind yourself how your best friends have brought you so much happiness! Take some time today to reach out to your best friends and schedule that much needed dinner date(sushi is my fav), night out dancing, coffee break, or if distance is an issue, skype or facetime them! Whatever you have to do, make sure you take some time to keep your best friends close.
As I reflect back on friendship, I have learned that quality friendships are more valuable then quantity. And your significant other can be your partner in crime but will not fill the void of your best friends. They go hand-in-hand and if you have both, then you are truly blessed! My best friends are part of my “Happy” life and I couldn’t imagine my life without their friendships.
Along side my oldest & best friends, it is always nice to gain a new friendship that you know is something special. Angela & I have formed a new friendship over the past year and I know we are both happy for it. We bonded at the bus stop and after having so much in common our friendship turned into a new business! You never know how valuable a person can be when you open yourself up to friendship.
I could go on and on about all the times my best friends have lifted me up. I only hope we continue to grow, share and laugh for many more years. They make each day happier just knowing I have them by my side. Happy Best Friends Day! I hope each and every one of you reading this has a wonderful day celebrating Happy Friendships!!
Erica & Angela
Have you ever been out shopping for clothes and see something you love? How about when you are automatically drawn to something and make a beeline right for it? It happens on a semi daily basis for me! But then (and it’s painful to do), I always find myself putting it back. The first reason is usually price, I do try and stick to my budget when I am out shopping and now that my husband is getting older I try and watch after his health, I've been told those little credit card statement heart attacks can have long term effects ;)! The second reason is something that I need to overcome and that is self confidence. I think “I’m too old for this” or “I can’t pull this off” and the dreaded “I’m too fat for this.”
Let’s face it I certainly don’t look like I did when I was 20, everything is about 2 inches lower and several inches wider, and chances are things aren't going to start putting themselves back in their proper positions, Unless you are that one girl we all know who looks better the older she gets (you know who you are ;)...And I hate you...OK you know I love you….but seriously how do you do that??). But are these good reasons to put down something you really love? Definitely Not!! I’m here to tell you to get out of your head (and most of the time it really is all in YOUR head), and start shopping for what makes your Heart Happy!!
Here are some pieces from my closet over the years that I have second guessed but fought my negative thoughts and now these have turned out to be some of my favorite pieces:
I love these shoes. My girls call them Minnie Mouse shoes and they definitely have a little harder feel to them than my usual pumps but they also jazz up my basic black (wedding/funeral/cocktail) dress. Although pointed toe shoes are in right now I’m keeping these babies because you know it’s just a matter of time before the rounded toe is back!
This is one of my favorite dresses, BUT most of the back is out (the horror!!!). Guess what, that little detail is what makes this dress so awesome! During the day I can where is with flat sandals and a cardigan and none of my mom friends will know my secret!! At night you can dress it up with heels or add combat boots and a leather jacket!
I usually stick to black or dark colors on the bottom which is the part of me that I’m most self conscience about. I never want to draw attention to the Booty...but these were just too cute for me to pass up!
Bathing suits make me want to scream! How have they not figured out how to make them more flattering? I mean they can do it with yoga pants! Bathing suits make me bulge in all the Wrong places...so I usually find something that covers me up. This suit has a see through mesh top that is flowy and although you can see my skin; showing a little skin isn't always a bad thing...Plus I need to remind myself of the 3 beautiful babies my body gave me. Definitely something my 20 year old body didn't do...it may be hard at times but be proud of what your body did to have those kids!
This headband was an “I’m too old for this moments” and “I can’t wear this at the bus stop.” Stop yourself at these moments because I bet you will get nothing but compliments!
My most recent purchase is not my usual type of dress; it's asymmetrical and takes me 5 minutes to figure out how to get in it because of it’s big knot...but it’s so soft and comfortable and when I saw it I had to have it. This may not be a staple piece in my closet but I’ll love wearing it all summer long…(I’m just thinking...how cute with my leather jacket and booties for fall...that’s two seasons!!).
Go through your closet and pull out those clothes you had to have but somehow wound up shoved way in the back. And the next time you are out shopping, remember to stop thinking so much and don’t be self conscience!. Just buy what makes your Heart Happy and that will come through when you are wearing it!
Angela & Erica
If your house is anything like mine your weeknight dinners (and let’s face it weekends are no better) are spent rushing to get dinner on the table while doing homework only to argue with your kids over what they are NOT eating. My kids are definitely not big eaters but there are a few meals that I can always count on that will have them eating, not complaints from my husband and actually leaves me time to eat too!
An All-Time favorite in our house is Mini Cheese Ravioli in Fresh Tomato Marinara served with Garlic Bread and Cucumber and Tomato Salad. Sounds time consuming right??? Trust me its not...but it’s okay to milk it a little! My kids love what we call “a pot of gravy”, which is just sauce and meatballs...but only my mother would take the hours to make that on a Tuesday! I’ve simplified this into a light and easy marinara.
Photo: One of our tomato plants this year grown from seeds in late March...looks like its doing well!!!
First thing I do is turn the pot on medium high and drizzle a little bit of olive oil (enough to lightly coat the bottom). Then I chop about 1-2 cloves of garlic depending on the size (or preference), add that to the pot and stir for a minute or so until the garlic is ready (you’ll know from the smell). Now for my secret ingredient...Fresh Tomatoes!!! The kids and I grow a vegetable garden in the spring and summer and we have an abundance of all different types of tomatoes that will last us through Halloween! Growing the garden is so much fun for the kids and you’ll be amazed at what they try when they grow it themselves! You can also purchase about 10 plum tomatoes or use 2 cans of whole peeled plum tomatoes (especially in the winter months). Chopped those tomatoes and throw them in lowering to medium heat. I add whole basil leaves (my kids will eat them even though they are green!) and salt and pepper to taste, stirring occasionally through the next steps.
Photo: Cucumber plant from our garden!
While the tomatoes are cooking I put a pot of water on high heat for the mini ravioli (or any type of pasta). For the garlic bread I use an Italian loaf of bread that I drizzle with olive oil and add salt and black pepper to taste. Finely chop about 4 garlic cloves and sprinkle on the bread. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top to get a crunchy cheesy bread! Pop under the broiler for a few minutes (the hardest part is making sure it doesn't burn ;)) and cut. You could also put the bread on the grill or grill pan...in the summer I use the grill for Everything!
A cucumber and tomato salad could not be an easier side. Chop 2 beef stock tomatoes and 1 to 2 cucumbers. Add basil, salt, black pepper, drizzle of olive oil and a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, mix and you are done!
By this time your pot of water should be boiling. For ravioli you only need a soft rolling boil since they cook quick. I usually use at least 3 bags (or 3 lbs) of the mini ravioli for the 5 of us (with some left over). I always add salt to the water before I add the pasta (I'm sure there is a reason but I never got an answer from the ladies in my family). Stir after adding the ravioli and watch for the first few to float to the top and then drain in a strainer. You will want them to have a little bite to them and over cooking will turn them to mush.
Your marinara should be done by now and you can turn off the heat. The next step is optional. My kids now enjoy having the tomatoes chopped however when they were younger everything was about texture. You can use the emulsion blender to make a smooth sauce. Use this opportunity to throw in a handful of kale or spinach. The blender will mix well enough so there are no traces of "green" and since it wasn't cooked with the tomatoes there will be no "green" taste! An added bonus is the less a green is cooked the more nutrients it will hold! Top the ravioli with the marinara and serve!
You can always make the marinara ahead and put in a mason jar for a quick reheat during the week. Spread the happiness and tie a wooden spoon with twine or ribbon to the jar and give to a friend, neighbor or family member who just had a baby, is recovering from an illness or Just Because!!!
Hope this recipe make your family as happy as it makes mine!!!
Angela & Erica
Erica Conway is a wife, mother of 4 active boys, Co-Founder of Simply Happy Brand & very active in many community non-profits.