Monday, August 19, 2019

Back-to-School Snacks & Hacks

This post is sponsored by Santa Cruz Organic but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.


Unless you are lucky enough to be savoring these last few weeks of Summer as actual Summer, you are in full on back-to-school mode. We’re a few weeks deep, and already we are counting down to the first break where we can turn off our alarms and put away that dreaded homework folder.

But until then we’ve come up with a few hacks to make the back-to-school transition just a little smoother. With a few easy adjustments morning routines become a little easier, days progress a little happier, and sports/after school activity nights are just a little less chaotic.


7 BACK-TO-SCHOOL HACKS

1: Pre-make your lunches the night before. Quite possibly one of our favorite back-to-school hacks.This saves a ton of time and stress both in lunch planning as well as eliminates one step from the already chaotic morning routine. 




2: Create a morning toiletries basket. Put all your morning toiletries essentials in a small basket to keep on the main floor of your house. Include toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, vitamins, hair ties - basically any getting ready toiletry items your kids might need. Putting one of these together has been so helpful! Every precious second counts on those busy mornings and keeping everything together in one central spot eliminates some of that last minute running around that can occur during morning routines.

3: Choose protein packed snacks. There’s no getting around it - kids snack a ton. Try to opt for protein packed snacks. Protein gives a much needed boost in energy and makes you feel more full. So ultimately your kids, pantry, and budget will thank you. If you need a great idea we love peanut butter based snacks and these Peanut Butter Fruit Bars top our list of snack time favorites. They are quick, easy, and made in just a few simple steps with the help of Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Creamy Peanut Butter and Santa Cruz Organic Strawberry Fruit Spread. (See below for full recipe.)




4: Keep Everyone Hydrated. Kids are so much more active during the day. And considering we start back-to-school in July, they’re tackling all those new routines and activities in the hottest part of the year. Hydration is important for energy, learning, and aids in making better eating choices. We send them off each day with a large water bottle, but also keep them in the car, and HUGE jugs in their sports bags year round. 


5: Keep homework time frames small. Okay we had a hard time with this because we originally wanted to do all our homework at once and just get it out of the way. We realized our kids were giving us big push back about that. We learned at the suggestion of a teacher that kids are much more productive when they are given multiple smaller blocks of time to do their homework. So grab a snack, give them a 15-30 minute timer, head over to their designated homework area, and let them do what they can. They re-visit later. 




6: Keep everyone on a sleep schedule. This goes without saying, but everyone does better when they are well rested. We know it is tricky with after school activities and sports some times, but we try to keep everyone on a good sleep schedule. Even us mommies! It’s so tempting to put everyone to bed and stay up late because we finally get some “me” time, but good rest supersedes a good reality TV binge watch sometimes. 


7: Say yes to some sweets. Did you know that eating chocolate while studying will help retain information a little easier? Now that’s advice we can get behind! Peppermint has also been proven to stimulate the brain and help with concentration. We try to have tiny individual wrapped  options of these available when studying for tests. Mommy might sneak a piece or two as well because let’s be honest - a lot of this we are re-learning too.





PEANUT BUTTER FRUIT BARS

There are a few snacks or homemade treats that our kids request over and over again. These Peanut Butter Fruit Bars are one of them. They are super easy to make and beyond delicious. We make them with Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Creamy Peanut Butter because we love the taste and the fact that they use they are certified organic. Santa Cruz uses non-GMO ingredients and processes, which we are all here for because we want those little bodies to get all the good fuel it can for back-to-school.



We make these on Sunday nights and they usually make it at least three or four days. I make more some weeks, but they gobble them up just as fast!



Peanut Butter Fruit Bar Recipe
Serves 8-16

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 60 Minutes



Ingredients:
- 1 cup of Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Creamy Peanut Butter
- 3/4 cup of Santa Cruz Organic Strawberry Fruit Spread
- 3/4 cup of light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder



Instructions:
1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2: Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with foil, leaving one inch overhang. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
3: Put peanut butter, sugar, and butter in a large mixing bowl and mix until well blended.
4: Add vanilla to mixture and stir evenly.
5: Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Mix evenly and then add to peanut butter mixture. Stir until even.
6: Press the batter into the bottom of the pan.


7: Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bars are golden brown on top.
8: Allow bars to cool completely for 15-20 minutes. Lift bars out of the pan by the foil overhang, and then cut evenly into squares. 
9: Spread strawberry fruit spread evenly over the batter.


10: Serve and enjoy!





What back-to-school hacks or snacks do you have for rocking back-to-school season?




To learn more about Santa Cruz, and their line of yummy organic products to help get you back-to-school ready, visit HERE.






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Friday, August 16, 2019

Beija Flor Jeans: The World's Best Jeans


Okay our title might be a little over selling a bit. But, trust us, today's post is all about some really really good jeans. Like we've been ruined from all other jeans. The minute we put on a pair of Beija Flor Jeans we knew we'd found the jeans of our dreams.


A few months ago, Ashley from Beija Flor contacted us about giving the jeans a try. We were intrigued when we read, "Curve friendly fits for every body type...". Those who are long time blog readers know we try to promote clothing items and brands that support women of all shapes and sizes. From yoga pants to swimsuits, and everywhere in between, we do our best to share items we feel would be a great fit for a wide range of women.


Dig a little deeper and you learn Beija Flor Jeans was created by a woman. (Makes sense that a woman would create the "world's best jeans" for women, right?!)


They claim to create a light weight, stretchy jean that (wait for it!) doesn't stretch out. All without gapping and providing an ultra slim silhouette. Read that again.

That's right - they are magic pants.

We couldn't wait to give them a try.


As we were talking to Ashley we realized it seemed like these unicorn jeans and our bodies were just meant to be. Beija Flor currently has two locations - Kiawah Island and Greenville. I (Jen) just happened to have a vacation planned for Kiawah Island. The jean goddesses wanted these jeans to be brought to our attention.


We scheduled a meeting during my trip and it was so fun to see the store, get a hands on feel for each jean style, and meet the Beija Flor team in person. And trust me when I say they know their stuff. The minute I walked in Ashley took one look at me and said, "You can try on anything you like, but I think you will love the Audrey jeans on you the most."

I left with a pair of the Audrey jeans.

I gave all the cuts a try though and it was a tough choice. I loved several of them, and as I looked back through the photos I put a few pairs in my cart that I am now kicking myself for not purchasing when I was in the store.


CUTS & SIZING INFO


Here's a quick peek at four of Beija Flor's main styles, and my try-on. Keep in mind I am 5'1" and typically wear a size 0 or 2. (More so a 2 because I love tacos. And donuts. And cocktails.) But you get the idea - I'm pretty petite. So I brought Carrie Beth a pair home too. She'll represent for all our taller lady friends.



The Audrey
Suggested Body Type: All, Short Torso
Measurements: Mid-Rise with 28" inseam

The Audrey in Distressed Blue


The Audrey in Tonal Navy



Final Verdict: Loved these! The fit perfectly in every way. I sized down to a 0 in all colors except for the dark navy. At Ashley's suggestion I sized up to a 2. She said for whatever reason that color run tends to run small so go up one size.




The Kelly
Suggested Body Type: Apple, Rectangle, Long Torso
Measurements: Slightly higher mid-rise with 31" inseam (a 28" ankle inseam and 24" cropped inseam available)

The Kelly in Light Aqua



Final Verdict: These were incredibly comfy and I loved the pull on waist. We are always here for it when it comes to a "jegging". However, because of my height and torso they were not flattering. Would be great for someone overall longer than 5'0". These would also be a great travel pant.



The Jennifer
Suggested Body Type: Hour-glass, rectangle, long torso & apple when it comes to the high-rise options
Measurements: Available in a mid-rise and a high-rise. 31" inseam on the skinny. 30" inseam for bootcut. 28" inseam for petite and ankle options.



Final Verdict: Right off the bat Ashley mentioned these would be great for Carrie Beth's build. I put them on so she could have a reference. I actually really loved the fit! The regular length skinny was long on me, but overall fit was spot on.




The Nicole
Suggested Body Type: Pear, hour-glass, athletic
Measurements: Mid-rise with a 31" inseam or 28" ankle inseam.
Final Verdict: Loved these too! The Beija Flor team informed me the structure of these was intended to give your butt a little lift - and that it did! From all angles this pair was a winner! I wore my regular size in these and other than the regular length being long they are perfection.




There are several other cuts and styles available from Beija Flor as well.  Their team is amazing at helping you find the right fit, but if you aren't able to make it in store to get fitted, their online fit guide is a great resource!


All cuts offer multiple colors and style options - even skirts! We love that once you find your perfect fit you have multiple options to chose from. There isn't any restarting back at square one to find another pair of pants.    



OUR BEIJA FLOR STYLE

Jen chose the Audrey pant in Distressed Blue and Carrie Beth chose the Nicole in Smokey Grey.


| Tiered Ruffle Top | Audrey Jeans in Distressed Blue


| Tee | Nicole Jean in Smokey Grey | Snake Print Platform


And we're already dreaming of Fall and all the outfit possibilities now that we found a pair of jeans that are the right fit and oh so comfortable.

| Peplum Top | Nicole Jean in Smokey Grey | Leopard Wedges

| Leopard Top | Nicole Jean in Smokey Grey | Perforated Grey Sneakers |

TRY AND SAVE! 

Our friends at Beija Flor Jeans are so nice, and after chatting for a few hours and leaving with our favorite new jeans, we knew we couldn't leave empty handed for YOU! The ladies gave us a discount code to share with you. Use code MAGNOLIA10 for 10% off your entire order!


Thank you again to the Beija Flor team! We can't wait to get to Kiawah Island again soon and have another fun chat and try-on sesh! 


What Beija Flor Jeans will you give a try?




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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Percy Jackson: Final Review


It is so funny to us what kids latch on to. When we were asked to read and review the Percy Jackson book series we had no idea just how into the series our kids would get. From the moment they read The Lightning Thief they were all in.


We spent the Summer reading and listening to the entire series. We hosted a Percy Jackson themed pool party to celebrate the kids enthusiasm for the series. We've watched the movies. We've even done some extended reading about Greek gods and mythology.


And if I'm being honest, I really loved the series too. It was entertaining - especially when listening to it! It's probably one of the best Audible reads I've listened to. 


My son loved the book series so much that he is now reading the Apollo series by Rick Riordan. There seems to be some cross over from the characters of the Percy Jackson series, and it is just as jam packed with adventure. I love that this series has made him so excited (even though I now know more about Greek mythology than I ever cared to). 


Head over to Savvy Sassy Moms to see our final thoughts on the Percy Jackson series, and check out a few fun ways that you can extend your reading by taking part in your own Percy Jackson style quests. 

Is there a book series that your kids' have really gotten into? Now that we've finished this one we are looking to see what would be a good idea for them to read next! 




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