Must Haves for Back to School

Some may already be back to school BUT for those in NJ, they still have some time to soak up the sun.  I honestly don’t know many who think back-to-school shopping is an exciting time of the year except those who graduated from crayons and glue sticks to a college campus!   I am sure many wish colleges and universities sent out a handy school supply shopping list like they did during the first 12 years of school.  This way we could put together the must-haves for those first time college students….

School in style

Good grades are important, but who said studying can’t be stylish, too? Whether you’re hitting the library, meeting a project group at a local coffee shop or running to class, there’s a Thirty-One bag for every student.

Are you a nothing-but-the-essentials kind of person? The Call Me Crossbody is the perfect size for your smartphone and a few cards when you’re on-the-go. If you need to pack a little more but still love the convenience of a hands-free bag, a Boutique Backpack can hold a few books, a water bottle, keys and more while also adding a chic pop to a casual outfit. And if you need to pack for a day’s worth of classes or need a work bag for your internship, the Around Town® Tote is perfect for books, folders and your laptop.

Dorm organization hacks

Space is limited in a college dorm room, so maximize every inch by investing in utility products which are durable, functional and come in the cutest prints.

Stow a Large Utility Tote  (LUT) under your bed to hold shoes or seasonal clothes that could take up space in your closet. With tons of prints available, from staple neutrals to whimsical cacti, you can match your LUT to your bedding or wall art. A Stand Tall Bin is the perfect size for a hamper or laundry basket, plus it comes in handy during move-in and collapses for easy storage. Guess what?  The Stand Tall Bin is on SALE this month.  Get TWO with a $35 purchase!  Finally, organize your desk or study space with a  Fold N’ FileTM, Double Duty® Caddy or Littles Carry-AllTM Caddy to hold documents, pens and office supplies.

Lunch break

You may not be packing PB&Js for the cafeteria anymore, but every busy college student needs to eat – and chances are you’ll be doing it on the go. Make snacking between classes a breeze with a lunch thermal that matches your personality. Choose a Thermal Tote in a bold, bright print or go for the Lunch Break Thermal Ltd. in elevated fabrics and finishes. With so many options, there’s a great lunch bag for every student.

Not your average backpack

You don’t have to leave your trusty backpack behind in grade school. In fact, when your classes and meetings are on opposite sides of campus, there’s no better way to stay organized and prepared than with a backpack for every occasion.

Heading over to the rec center for a quick workout? Grab a Cinch Sac or Sling-Back Bag to carry your water, headphones, deodorant and a change of clothes. Looking for something a little roomier for class? Go with the Adventures Backpack, complete with a thermal pocket for drinks and snacks, or the Crossbody Organizing Tote for organization on the go.

Weekend reset

After you’ve worked hard all week, it’s nice to have the weekend to relax, have fun and take some time for yourself. Whether it means staying on campus to hang out with your roommates or heading home to see your family for a few days, these stylish, versatile solutions will have you covered. Opt for an All About the Benjamins® wallet for a lunch date with friends, or choose a Retro Metro® Bag to bring along to the store or while running errands. If you like to spend your weekends at home, pack up an Away for the Weekender with all your overnight essentials.

What’s on your back to school shopping list? Can’t decide what bag will fit your needs, I’m happy to help you find the perfect solution for your organizing or back to school struggles.

Have a blessed day!

Happy 4th of July

According to Wickapedia “Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain”.

This year, the 4th seems to be a bigger struggle than last year….there seems to be a few more memories missing as a result of the MS.  I went on a hunt to find some pictures to go with the post and struggled to remember.  I pulled our the scrapbook I made for Belinda for her 16th birthday and was overwhelmed.  The pictures looked familiar but the memories of the experiences have slowly slipped away. It is times like this I am glad I started blogging before things were too bad because it helps me to remember at least a little bit….

Hubby and I were just talking about life in Ocean Grove  and how we would love to live there again.  The 4th of July was always a whirlwind of fun and excitement filled with July 4th parades and bar-b-ques with family. Sitting on Main Street waiting for the parade and the barrage of candy thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried Belinda would get too close to the  trucks. Belinda hiding and covering her ears as the fire trucks came by – her sensitive ears were always a concern for Grams.

Then came the years Belinda was in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes made by me – Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Peter Pan… are you getting the Disney theme? Yes, we were obsessed with Disney and we wore out many VHS tapes before DVDs came around. Then as Belinda got older, it was decorating her bicycle. Cards in the spokes to make the flipping sounds – okay, am I really showing my age now? Red, white and blue shirts, shorts, and hats…

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and is filled with many memories.  I am grateful for scrapbooks – mostly since Belinda was born but at least there are some.  There was actually a time when ALL of us lived in Ocean Grove on Broadway – Edythe, then Grams, Pop-pop & Elsie then closest to the beach was mom and I. Okay, so it was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Yes, I squirreled!

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family. Enjoy the moments and treasure them….

Tasty Tuesday – Fudge Brownies

Today’s recipe is courtesy of Hungry Girl. The actual name of the brownie is “secret-ingredient” fudge brownie BUT I figured you would’t check it out if you knew there was a secret ingredient. LOL.  I’m trying to get back on track but I do love my sweets.  I never remember craving them this much but lately it has been really bad!  The best part about this recipe is I can make it gluten free with almond flour.

NUTRITION FACTS:  1/9th of pan (1 brownie): 107 calories, 2g total fat (1g sat fat), 190mg sodium, 23g carbs, 5.5g fiber, 4g sugars, 5.5g protein

FreestyleSmartPoints® value 2*  MAKES: 9 servings

Prep: 10 minutes     Cook: 30 minutes    Cool: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • One 15-oz. can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup (about 2 large) egg whites or fat-free liquid egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup Truvia spoonable no-calorie sweetener (or another natural brand that’s about twice as sweet as sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8” X 8” baking pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor. Puree until completely smooth and uniform.
  3. Fold in 1 tbsp. chocolate chips. Spread mixture into the baking pan, and smooth out the top.
  4. Evenly top with remaining 2 tbsp. chocolate chips, and lightly press into the batter.
  5. Bake until a toothpick (or knife) inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, 25 – 30 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Want to take these yummy treats on the road?  What better way than with a Thirty One thermal.  First up is the Cool Zip Snacker a perfect size to keep one of these yummy brownies from melting in the summer heat.  The best part is they are in the Summer Sale-a-bration and are only $8 (while they last).  Kids love snacks, and the Cool Zip Snacker makes it fun for them to enjoy their favorites! Available in two-themed characters, our snacker is food safe and reusable. The water-resistant thermal lining and polyester shell are hand-washable and easy to care for.

Looking for something a little bigger?  Why not try the Thermal Tote?  This is one of our most popular items, the Thermal Tote is the perfect-sized lunch bag for work, school, play dates, sporting events, golf outings, fishing trips or travel. The thermal lining and zipper closure help keep your food cool or warm, while an exterior pocket is the perfect place to keep your cell phone, wallet or other important small items. Also makes a great gift for your kids’ teachers, tutors and babysitters, or your coworkers, neighbors and friends!

Share a recipe with us and if I post it, you will get some AWESOME happy mail from me.  Let’s us know what you think about this recipe.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Recovery After Relapse

 I have gone back and forth trying to decide whether or not I wanted to share this post.   I have been  a people pleaser most of my life and I didn’t want any one to be angry with me. Others will stop reading.  BUT there may be one or two who will be encouraged or know recovery is actually possible.

My first time in recovery, I shared with everyone.  I didn’t care who knew because NA and the people I met saved my life.  They helped me to learn about me which made me confident.  Some would say I got cocky, since after two plus years of daily meetings I walked away from the program thinking I was “better” and was healed.  I was given back all of the tangibles in my life – family, a career, a house, car and so much more.

If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed I have referenced my relapse and my walk back into recovery.  Pride and ego gets the best of me as I worry about what people will think.  BUT there may be someone out there who needs to hear this story….

When I started blogging in 2013, I shared the story of my addiction. The story of getting clean in 1991 was a blessing.  I was blessed with many years in recovery – from drugs.  Of course, I now know I substituted work for my drug of choice.  I became a workaholic – and some wondered if I cared more about my clients then I did my family.  As a workaholic, I had an occasional glass of wine figuring I had things under control.  Little did I know, it was the beginning of making a total mess of my life again.  See, I forgot one simple thing from those early meetings – a drug is a drug is a drug.  The truth is, anything we become obsessive about is a form of addiction.  So, as I worked for many years at a job I loved; I was able to “manage” my work – addiction.

When for health reasons I had to give up my crazy commute (4 hours a day round trip) and a job I loved – I was lost.  I had no real identity or at least I didn’t think so.  The first year wasn’t bad.  I worked on my direct sales business, and collected unemployment while I looked for something close to home.  The truth was being 54 with LOTS of experience was not an appealing trait for most employers.  All they saw was someone who was “older” and who they thought would quit when a better opportunity came along.

Over the next 7 years, my life would be like a roller coaster ride.  Taking jobs to fill the void and pay the bills.  But each time, my MS (not yet diagnosed) reared its ugly head, and I had to give my notice.  During 4+ of those years, not only did I struggle to find a job but I endured endless testing to determine what was going on health-wise with me.

Financial unmanageability was starting to wreck havoc in my life without a steady income.  MS started affecting my memory, my moods, my balance and my life. The unmanageability throughout my life got worse.  No steady income.  An inconsistent commission check from my direct sales business.  Using credit cards to pay for things or to shop or to keep up appearances.  Drinking wine to relax.  The old behaviors and feelings from my early days of using came back really fast.  Stuffing my feelings again.  Feeling like I didn’t belong.  Feeling alone.  Feeling like a victim.  Feeling unworthy of anything.  Playing the comparison game and never winning.  Being self-centered (I want what I want when I want it).  Angry. Letting pride rule. Jealousy.  All of those things I thought I had dealt with long ago.

See, the reality was I gave up the drugs but I never really worked on me.  I substituted work for drugs.  I identified as a Social Worker.  I identified as mom.  But I never identified as Hope – the person.  Looking back, I was happy with my life BUT I don’t think I was ever really happy with me!

One year ago, I walked back into the rooms of NA, I felt as broken and lost as the first day I walked into the rooms on October 26, 1991.  I have learned so much in the last year.  This year has been a turning point in my life…. you would think at 62 I would have finally gotten it together. LOL.

Are things perfect?  No but they are getting better.  I am learning to like me for me.  I still tend to play the comparison in my business but it is getting better. I am working on re-building broken relationships. I am building a network of strong women who I can lean on.   I am learning to accept my MS diagnosis and truly believe #mswillnotdefineme.

Why am I sharing this?  I want to help someone else who may be struggling.  I am coming face to face with my inner demons so I can move on from the past and embrace the future.

Have a blessed day!

Recipe for A New Life

This month seems to be full of transformations…..It has been 6 years since hubby’s 10 day hospital stay which ended with a defib pacemaker which changed our life slightly.  I just celebrated one year in recovery after a VERY long relapse.  I am feeling like God is setting me up for a change in my life.  I am by no means complaining, although as you can tell by my recent posts, life has been a roller coaster of emotions…
There have been signs all around me about changing my mindset and the importance of it….. from posts on Facebook to conversations with friends to my Just for Today devotionals.  Not only does this apply to everyday life but it I am seeing how it is being applied in my business.
When I was in rehab, I remember a saying which went something like this: If one person calls you a duck – you can toss it aside, if two people call you a duck – it deserves some consideration but if three people call you a duck – you MUST be a duck!”  I haven’t been called a “duck” lately BUT I am seeing some of my passion moving in other directions.  In the past, this has been when I jumped ship at a job – it didn’t happen often especially after I got into Social Work.  For now, I am lookin for my purpose and seeking my passion…
So starting this morning, this duck is going to work on making a change from muddling through the waters to finding my joy.  Letting go of fear and doubt is the toughest thing for me.  The people pleaser in me doesn’t want to let anyone down, and doesn’t want to disappoint anyone.  The problem is, I can’t figure out if this is a temporary thing as a result of some MS issues or if my passion is truly changing.
Do you need to change your mindset?  Here are a few questions you can answer which might help:
  1. Identify the what happened to cause the change
  2. Why did it happen
  3. How can I use this for my personal growth
  4. What changes can I make to improve in the future
  5. Where can I find help or who can help
This is “recipe for life” was part of a devotion I had read.  Maybe this will help you in changing your mindset or counting your blessings:
Begin with a case of Joy
Add a heaping spoonful of Gratitude
Fold in a large dollop of Kindness
Stir in a handful of Forgiveness
Sprinkle liberally with Love and cover with Peace
Always serve with a large side of Faith
(Author unknown)
 
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!