How To Build a Busy Bag

The warmer weather has arrived, hopefully to stay, and for many it means ROAD TRIP!  Or maybe it just means a staycation.  As a kid, long car rides and I would fall asleep.  Belinda liked to be kept busy when we traveled in the car.  What about your kids do they sleep or are they a “when are we going to get there” kind of kid?
Another recipe for disaster: Take an important meeting, or doctor’s appointment, add one squirmy toddler and hope (or pray, as the case may be) for a tantrum-free hour.  You know what I mean, those times when a quick trip turns into an hour plus mess.
Fear not because there is a simple way to ward off a boredom-induced meltdown – build a busy bag!  This tote  can be filled with quiet toys, books and crafts and is an easy way to keep your little one entertained and (relatively) silent.
Here’s how to make your own:

Start with the bag

Help your child choose a bag or tote to fill and then decorate it together! The Statement Canvas Shopper – or for littler hands, a Statement Canvas Mini Shopper – can be personalized with their name, a fun Icon-It, graphic or even their own photo or artwork! You can upload your littlest ones’ fingerpaint masterpieces online and create a bag they’ll carry long after the “originals” have been tossed.

Bring along something soft

Smaller children may enjoy having a comfort item or “lovie” they can snuggle while the grown-ups are busy. For older children, choose soft dolls or finger puppets for imaginative play instead of noisy plastic action figures.

Add a little fun

A simple activity keeps little fingers engaged and focused. Old-fashioned toys like lacing cards, paper dolls or a matching card game don’t take up much space and can be enjoyed over and over.

Encourage reading and writing

Babies and toddlers who can’t yet read love books with different textures and flaps to open and close. Older children may enjoy age-appropriate books or a notebook and pencil to practice handwriting. Include some coloring books and crayons (as long as you know they’ll be used only on paper).Add some of your child’s favorite toys and activities to customize your busy bag with whatever will keep them content. Keep your bag ready in the car or diaper bag so it’s always with you on the go, and switch out toys and games frequently to hold your child’s interest. And most importantly, have fun, because they’re only little for so long!

What do you carry to keep your little ones busy when you are out and about?  Do you have a favorite game to play on car trips?  Share it with us…
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy Easter 2019

EASTER cross

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”  

On this day, let’s remember the true meaning of Easter as we visit with family and friends.  Treasure the moments for the days go by quickly, loved ones are gone and kids grow up.  Today holds so many mixed feelings for me…..

Growing up, I used to go to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach.  Then home to get ready for church.  Totally new outfits to wear to church.  Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park.  Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family.  Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth”.  Happy memories of my childhood.

Fast forward (many years) to having my own home with my daughter, Belinda.  Easter took on a different meaning.   Gone were the tradition of church.  For the first 3 Easters, I was still in my addiction so it was dinner with family and an Easter basket for Belinda.  When I entered recovery, things changed slightly – I had a relationship with God but still did not have a church.  As Belinda got a little older, we did Easter baskets but they were filled with toys and games because she didn’t like chocolate.  I know can you believe it!  She did like white chocolate but only in small amounts.  And of course “stale” marshmallow peeps.  It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house.  I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket.  I even remember making her Easter outfits (I know she hates this picture but I think it is cute!) and heading to Atlantic City for the Easter parade.  Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together.

Now, as the miles stretch between us, we each celebrate Easter with our extended family.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy.  Gone is the traditional family Easter dinner.  There will be loved ones in heaven celebrating together while those of us left behind still struggle with making new traditions.  The true meaning of Easter begins to shine through…

After relapsing and returning to recovery, my relationship with God has grown a little stronger.  I am grateful he loved me enough to sacrifice his son for my sins.  Today, I will count my blessings and treasure the memories I can remember.  I miss the traditional family holidays (what little I can remember) but am learning to create new memories with each passing day.

Share your Easter memories with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Time for a Personal Rebrand?

Life has thrown me a curve ball and I don’t mean I am playing a game of baseball…..

Over the last three months, my direct sales business has been struggling.  Maybe it is me who has been struggling.  My bag is FULL – MS stuff, recovery, family and trying to continue my business to pay the bills.  It has been some of the worst months in three plus years.  Have I wallowed in a pity pot for a little bit?  YUP!  Did I beat myself up?  YUP!  I totally get how business fluctuates.  I am always grateful for a supportive network of other women business owners who help me to put things in perspective.

I know you are wondering………”what does this have to do with personal branding”, right?  During all of this, I have been thinking about my personal brand.  A way to incorporate my direct sales business with my angels.  I love both but trying to split my time has wrecked havoc on my health (or should I say my thought process).  I know, splitting my time between two loves is not good for either business, right?

What happens when your passion changes over time? In a recent article Dorie Clark‘s quotes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” Clark emphasizes, “Your path may make perfect sense to you, but how can you persuade others to embrace your new brand — and take you seriously?”  This is where I’m at right NOW!  I have been in direct sales for 8 plus years and I am known for it, as I transition or merge the two, I need to get my current customers on both sides to embrace my new brand.

A personal rebrand isn’t easy! I mean isn’t it easier to continue along the same path where people know you for what you do best — or at least what they think you do best.  Over time, as your passions change, it’s only natural to pivot into new areas. Remember,  multiple rebranding will hold you back and create confusion, so follow these steps, and you’ll be ready to take your brand to the next level.

#1 Reflect: 

The first step in branding is to reflect on who you are, what you’ve accomplished and how you want the world to see you.  Search yourself on google – search your name, your business, or something people identify with you.  Ask friends you trust for their help.  Here are some  questions to help you to define your brand:

  1. What do you want to be known for?
  2. What are you good at?  
  3. What do you write about, talk about and share share about?  

#2 Define Your Personal Brand: 

You want  to simply stand out in the crowd by focusing on your unique gifts and what makes you different.  Is it something people relate to you?  When they see it, they think of you.  Is it a tagline?  Make a list of all of the things which make you stand out from the crowd.  In direct sales, this is extremely important because you want loyal customers, right?

#3 Create Your Brand:

Now you need to become visible, get yourself out there. Create an active social media presence with a personal website.  If you are in direct sales, you can usually change your URL to a catchy phrase or something which makes you stand out.  I used Go Daddy to change my direct sales website URL to “partywithHope”.  It is short and easy for customers to remember.  As for my angels it is simply a Facebook page of called “Hope’s Angel Connection”. PLUS  I always use my angel wings as a watermark on my graphics as a reminder of me!

#4 Connect to Others: 

Now you have a personal brand.  The next step is being visible in the arenas where you want to be successful. Know who you want your audience to be – stay at home moms, professionals, etc.  Get reviews or endorsements from customers, attend events, and network, to bolster and lend credibility to the brand you are marketing.  Don’t be shy about it – wear your brand every day.  I always have a ThirtyOne bag AND an angel charm on – each draw people into conversations.

Yup, it is really this simple. Remember, the success of personal branding depends on how well your audience understands your vision, and what you do best, as well as your authenticity. Share your brand with us!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How To Pick the Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Over the years, I have always had a hard time finding the perfect gift for my mom.  She is kind, giving, hard-working and of course, she holds a special place in my heart.  What about you?  Do you struggle?  Since miles (okay about an hour’s drive) separate us, we don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like or have in the past.  So, the gift of time seems to be the best thing to give her on any given day.  On Mother’s Day, I want it to be special.  It’s so important on Mother’s Day to show our moms just how much we appreciate them. Take this short quiz to find great gift ideas for your mom to make her special day amazing!

How does your mom like to spend her weekends?

  1. Traveling and exploring new places
  2. Hiking, picnicking or at the beach
  3. Soccer games, trips to the grocery store and a million other errands – she’s always on the go!
  4. In the kitchen trying out new recipes
  5. Cozied up at home with a good book
  6. Shopping!

Describe her personality in one word.

  1. Adventurous
  2. Nature-lover
  3. Organized
  4. Loving
  5. Homebody
  6. Fashionista

What’s her dream vacation?

  1. Going somewhere new and exciting like Australia or Japan
  2. She’s just as happy exploring national parks as she is lounging on the beach
  3. A week at the spa to relax from her hectic life
  4. Paris, Spain or Italy – she’s not picky as long as it has amazing food!
  5. Visiting friends and family that she doesn’t get to see often
  6. Exploring all of the amazing boutiques in London or New York City

What’s your budget for her gift?

  1. Less than $30
  2. The mid-$30s sound good
  3. Let’s keep it under $40
  4. Right around $50
  5. Under $60
  6. Less than $90
Mostly 1s: Choose the perfect travel accessory or mix and match a few for the ultimate travel solution set! The Hanging Traveler Case, Fold-Up Family Organizer, Shine On Jewelry Case or Glamour Case won’t break your bank and will make organizing her overnight bag or suitcase easier for her next getaway.  My mom loves her Hanging Traveler Case so maybe it should be the Shine On Jewelry Case this year?
Mostly 2s….If your mom loves all things outdoors, the Sand N’ Shore Thermal Tote Bundle is the perfect companion for her next adventure. From picnics and hiking to the beach, this thermal’s Leak Lock® lining means she’ll always be ready with food, drinks and snacks to keep the whole crew going.
Mostly 3s:  She’ll love the Crossbody Organizing Tote.  This versatile utility-style bag is functional and fashionable enough to go with her everywhere! The adjustable crossbody strap and wipeable design of the Crossbody Organizing Tote will make it her go-to bag for work, the store and beyond.
Mostly 4s:  The Tote-ally Thermal or Fresh Market® Thermal is for her!

If there’s nothing your mom loves more than getting creative in the kitchen and sharing the food she makes, then the super-portable Tote-ally Thermal or roomy Fresh Market®Thermal is just what she needs. Both have Leak Lock® lining to hold ice to transport her creations to the next dinner party or holiday celebration.  The best part is these are on SALE this month.

Mostly 5s: The Close To Home™ Table Gallery is her perfect match

Family is important to your mom, and she loves to be reminded of her loved ones daily. The Close To Home Table Gallery’s interchangeable Photo Inserts let her switch out pictures to display different special memories throughout the year.  OR, you can pick your favorite photo and grab just the insert for her to hang or display for all to see.

Mostly 6s: Give the gift of fashion with Miles of Style®.  Your mom knows accessories make the outfit, so give her a bag she’ll want to show off every day with the versatile and fashionable Miles of Style®. Personalize this stylish handbag with an embroidered monogram for a Mother’s Day gift she’ll always cherish.
Which one is the perfect gift for your mom?  Need some more suggestions, feel free to comment below OR check out my Thirty One website.  Share a picture with us of your mom and you….
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Southwest-Style Slow-Cooker Pork Chops

Thank you Pillsbury.com for today’s recipe….I know crockpot season may almost be over at least for me since I really only use it during the winter month BUT this looked too good to pass up. It’s not the same old pork chops! Tender chops slow-cooked with flavorful creamy mashed pinto beans make a tasty dinner for four.

Prep:  10 minutes     Cook time: 4 hours & 10 minutes     Servings:  4

Ingredients

4 – bone-in center-cut pork loin chops, 3/4 inch thick (about 2 lb)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
2 cans (15 oz each) pinto beans, drained, rinsed
Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired

Directions

  1. Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning. Cook pork chops in skillet 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until brown.
  2. In 3- to 4 1/2- quart slow cooker, mix remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon seasoning, the salsa, corn and beans until well blended. Top with pork chops, overlapping as necessary, pressing gently into bean mixture.
  3. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 5 hours.
  4. Remove pork chops to serving platter. Cover to keep warm. With fork or potato masher, mash beans slightly until slightly thickened. Serve pork chops over beans. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Additional Tips

  • Browning the pork chops before placing them in the slow cooker adds flavor to this dish.
  • Substitute black beans or red beans for pinto beans in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts:  Calories 360, Total Fat 11g, Saturated Fat 3 1/2g, Cholesterol 85 mg Sodium 1110mg, Potassium 760mg, Total Carbohydrate 32g, Dietary Fiber 7g, Sugars 9g, Protein 33g.  Daily Exchanges: 1 1/2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 4 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 0 Fat;

Since I am the Queen of leftovers – LOL.  I love when there are 4 servings because it ensures I have a meal or two to freeze for hubby’s dinner.  Since he works the swing shift, he uses Thirty One’s Picnic Thermal.  It holds his dinner, snacks  and LOTS of other stuff. We actually weighed it one day and it was 35 pounds! So whether you are headed to the beach, campground or family picnic with your favorite foods. The Picnic Thermal Tote has a Leak Lock® thermal lining to hold ice when you need to keep things cool for a longer time. A removable, adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry when you have your hands full, and the zip-around closure ensures everything stays put while you’re transporting it from the car.

Share your favorite recipe with us, and if I publish it….YOU will get a FREE gift from me.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!