I have been experimenting with Thrive life and trying to incorporate more into my daily cooking. It’s been so much fun! I know the importance of getting fruits and vegetables wherever I can and using Thrive Life food in my home recipes has been the perfect way to pack more nutrition into my cooking. A couple of months ago, as part of my Thrive quest, I pulverized some Thrive Life strawberries and put them into my late-night chocolate pudding snack thinking chocolate pudding with strawberries sounded so good! Since then, I have become a scientist in the kitchen! I started pulverizing all the things and adding them into everything! I was shocked at how the flavor of all of my food sparked new life and zest into my cooking. Thrive packs a powerful punch whether it is savory or sweet and brings all the natural nutrition to each serving!
BANANA BREAD WITH A TWIST
My experimenting didn’t stop with just puddings and smoothies… I even tried it on some of my favorite baked goods recipes and IT TOTALLY WORKED! We all know how good my Grandma Helen’s Banana Bread is, right? Well, I just mixed things up and I am so excited to share this recipe with you!
I pulverized a handful of strawberries and threw them into the batter before baking and voila, a masterpiece that my kids and I love. I want to try bran muffins next with apples, carrots, and zucchini!
This month Strawberries, blueberries, and a few more of my favorite Thrive products are on sale.
STRAWBERRY BANANA MUFFINS RECIPE
3 Ripe Bananas, Mashed
1 cup of Thrive Strawberries
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Basking Soda
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans (Optional)
2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
Mash bananas and pulverize the strawberries into a powder (using a food processor or a coffee grinder).
Hand mix and combine bananas, strawberries, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.
My brother Spencer told me that the more goals we make the less likely we are to achieve them and I think he is right. When the year turns and I know a fresh start is coming up I literally want to change all the things! I want to throw out my bad habits, I want to be the best mom and wife ever, I want to make a million dollars, I want to lose 50 pounds, and I want to sing and dance and be my very best. Then January 2nd comes along and nothing has changed and I beat myself up. I feel like the opportunity is missed and I start daydreaming about January 1, 2023 and how that will be my year. I may be exaggerating a little here, but I know I’m not the only one who has felt these feelings.
When we focus on ONE THING AT A TIME, we are way more likely to achieve that goal and other things in our lives that aren’t aligned with that goal seem to fall away. Some people chose a word for the year. Some people choose a mantra. Some people focus on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of their lives. I just want to say, no matter what, even making the goal and thinking about it is a step in the right direction. No positive energy placed in becoming a better person is wasted, even if you feel like you’ve failed.
RESETTING AND REGROUPING
This year, Ammon and I, along with our children, are going to ring in the New Year with a huge planning party! We are going to eat yummy finger foods, create mood boards, redefine our family values, listen to good music, dance, and set one goal each that we want to work towards. It may seem silly spending the night with our families cutting our magazines and pasting them to posters, or chatting about our dreams in our PJ’s instead of spending the night downtown in sequins. But the older I get the more I realize that my family brings me the most joy. Spending quality time with my children, my spouse, my siblings and parents, and true friends is what brings my heart pure love.
As I reflect on 2021 I realize how this year started out with so much Anxiety. Ammon quit his job and the mantle of provider fell on my shoulders. It is not an easy burden to bear! It is stressful and can easily steal joy away from life. We went to Hawaii as a family to take a break and it was life-altering! I was able to realign my goals and my dreams and since then I have been able to handle my anxiety, my fear, and my high blood pressure! I’m not kidding that I am an anxious person. I can admit that and because I know that I can easily get worked up. While in Hawaii Ammon and I were able to do some really incredible things.
SETTING GOALS & CREATING OUR FAMILY BRAND
One thing we were able to do was to work with my brother Spencer and figure out what we really wanted to do as individuals and as a family. What our individual goals were and how we set up our lives to achieve that. Another thing we were able to do was to work with Chris and Melissa Smith and create our own family brand. The first exercise we did at Family Brand was to write down a list of things we do when our family is running smoothly. Both Ammon and I wrote down road trips, reading as a family, playing games, cuddling in bed, etc. Then Chris turned to us and said – Why aren’t you doing those things more? It really shook us up and made us think why we didn’t. Of course, there are a million reasons as to why we don’t do the things that we honestly value the most. and that’s a good place to start… What am I prioritizing? Or are my days being prioritized for me?
I wanted to tell you that so when you are coming up with your goals you can make simple changes that make a big difference, even if it’s as simple as doing more things you enjoy.
One day last year my mom busts through my front door anxiously and animatedly talking about this amazing device that makes yogurt and she knows the inventor and blah blah blah as she grabs my hand and starts leading me to her house (next door to my house). It has been a very long time since I had seen my mom so excited. We walk through her back door and right into her kitchen where a tall man was standing next to a counter full of milk jugs. It was kind of surreal and immediately it was something I knew I needed to Instagram. Literally, no one really knew what was going on, but my mom’s excitement trumped any uncomfortable or awkward feeling.
My mom then introduced me to Merrick, the inventor of the Probiotic Maker. It is a super simple and amazing device that turns a jug of milk into kefir overnight. Kefir is drinkable yogurt that has tons of health benefits and millions of live probiotics. It helps gut health and digestion, is antibacterial, helps bone health… and the list just kept going as Merrick mixed drinks and blended smoothies for us. I quickly saw why my mom was so excited and I quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
AND NOW, THE RECIPE
My mom has been having Kefir shakes daily since then. It is not only super healthy for you but it really is delicious. It is hard to mess up on any variety of flavors but here is one of our very favorite recipes:
AND NOW, THE INGREDIENTS…THRIVE LIFE
Costco has the most amazing guava juice (Grown Right Organic Guava Nectar) that comes in a 2 pack. Make sure to grab some of that next time you go or you can buy it here.
I don’t always have fresh fruit around so obviously, I dip into my Thrive Life stash and the drinks always come out so so good! I also throw in a little bit of Thrive Kale or Thrive Spinach. You can buy direct from the Thrive Life website.
For the Kefir, you will need a probiotic maker. Here is a link to the one I use. Use code Abi for 15% off!
This has been my go-to for smoothies, but I have tried all sorts of different Thrive Life fruits and veggies and honestly, they are all awesome!
Remix this recipe and let me know what amazing concoctions you come up with!
1 Cup – Kefir (Milk or Yogurt as a substitute)
1/2 Cup – Guave Nectar Juice
1/4 – 1/2 Cup each – Thrive Life Fruit: Strawberries, Peaches, Blueberries
1 tbsp – Thrive Life Kale or Spinach
Make sure the ingredients have been refrigerated before use.
Place kefir, guava juice, and Thrive Life fruits and vegetables in a blender.
Blend for about 60 seconds, or until desired texture.
Alright, to start out I have to tell you that all freeze fried or food storage companies are not created equal! It is nuts how many weird and bad products are out there and especially now after we’ve all had a little scare with being prepared. Thrive Life is literally amazing and I’ve had had so much fun learning about their product and using it in my kitchen.
The first time I tried their food I was all in! I am very picky about food and I knew that I would easily walk out the door and never look back if the food wasn’t palatable. The grapes are some of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. The corn!!! It is so sweet! The peas are also so sweet and crunchy! Once you try the food, you will know why I am so obsessed.
HOW DOES THRIVE LIFE KEEP ITS FOOD SO FRESH?
The reason the food is so delicious is that no corners are cut at any point in the production and packaging process. Farmers that work with Thrive Life wait until the food is as ripe as possible before harvesting it. These farmers then have 3 hours or less to flash freeze the food. Freezing the food this close to harvesting ensures that the food retains as much flavor and nutrition as possible. Once the food is frozen and loaded the trucks deliver it to Thrive Life. Thrive then freeze-dries that food as soon as possible, package it, and send it to us! This process and the attention to all these details are why the food from Thrive Life is so tasty and so nutritious!
I am not kidding when I say that this food is the most flavorful and healthy food you will find outside of picking fresh, ripe food from your garden. Most stores pick fruit weeks, months, even up to a year or more before we get it and eat it. That food is literally dead by the time it gets to us. Thrive Life food is alive!!!!! I know that sounds weird and confusing, but it is true and you can taste the difference. The difference between a Thrive Life tomato and a store-bought tomato is astounding and actually a little depressing.
TASTING IS BELIEVING
I never in a million years thought I would be writing a blog about freeze-dried food and how it works and why I love it, but here I am!
Here is some additional information about Thrive Life.
6 years ago I was living in Michigan with three kids three and under, all of which were in diapers, and I got a call from my little brother Sam. “Abi, I want to host a huge event for all door to door salesmen. Do you want to help me put it on?”
“Are you going to pay me?”
“LET’S DO IT!”
D2DCON WAS BORN…
That was the day D2DCON was born. I had been to many trade shows before having children and was in charge of all events for PMDbeauty, but I had never actually hosted/managed a large event. The purpose of D2DCON is to elevate the door-to-door space and bring honor and integrity to the industry. Many men and women who sell door to door consider this type of work their profession and they are extremely successful. From selling alarm systems to chocolate, windows to Pest Control – door to door sales is a thriving way for people to do business and to make a surprising amount of money. Fun fact… door-to-door sales is the oldest form of selling! Think of the day when we didn’t have the internet, television, or even radio. The only way to “market” a product or service was to knock on someone’s door and talk to them, face-to-face. And now in 2022, the same principles still apply!
THE DOOR-TO-DOOR SALES INDUSTRY
Unfortunately, today, door-to-door salesmen/women don’t have the best reputation. It is not always the best experience and the few shady ones who don’t sell ethically, ruin it for the thousands of others who are good and supporting their families.
The door-to-door industry is also super competitive. Most companies don’t share practices or open up about their secrets because there is so much “rep stealing” or “recruiting” that happens. If you are a really good salesman/woman, companies will do whatever they can to get you to join their team. It’s pretty cutthroat and can create a lot of hurt/nasty feelings.
CHANGING THE INDUSTRY
Sam’s vision was/is to unite the industry and turn the mindset of the industry from that of scarcity to abundance. And over the last six years with a lot of hard work, dedication, trial and error, savvy planning, and staying focused he has done just that! Sam has an incredible drive to do whatever he puts his mind to. He has loved the door-to-door sales industry and has found so much satisfaction from being so involved in rejuvenating the industry.
I came in not knowing anything about this industry and I have made so many friends and acquaintances that have truly inspired me and changed me for the better. The first year was an incredible event and it pushed me more than I ever knew I could manage. We had 20 vendors, sold over 1,000 tickets, 20 different workshops and every keynote speaker blew me away! After this first event, we were all hooked! We immediately started planning for the next year, excited about what the future prospects were for the event.
The event has grown every year since that first year and I am actually really proud of what I did to help it grow! Last year was my last year managing the event and as sad as it was to say goodbye, I was super happy to know that Shelly, my best friend, took it over. Instead of her being my backup every year, I now get to be her backup as D2DCON5 happens this weekend.
There are always so many shenanigans that go on behind the scenes of a big event and I can’t wait to share with you this year!!! Follow my stories all weekend for a peek at what goes on at the most insane door-to-door sales conference ever!
I could talk about meditation all day, every day! I love it! I feel like most of my problems are solved quickly and effectively when I meditate, purposefully. My meditation sessions are a time that I connect with my inner-self, my Heavenly Father and Mother, the future and past generations of my family line, and the earth. Wow! Right out of the gate I am going deep here! It is the absolute truth, though. I always find so much peace and direction when I listen to what is coming at me from these special sources.
I bet you are now wondering… HOW!? How do I meditate? How do I get answers? How do I feel at peace and reconnect? I’m sure you have all kinds of questions! Let me start out by saying that it has taken me a lot of time and practice to be in tune with the world within me, and around me. I love meditating in different settings, in different ways, and I love teaching my kids what I have learned and about my methods. And now I want to share with you how I meditate with my kids and maybe one day I will share my personal meditation with you!
Ready… here we go!
HOW TO START MEDITATING WITH YOUR KIDS
We start by breathing deeply. Breath in for 7 seconds, through your nose, and then hold that breath for 7 seconds. Then breath out of your mouth for 7 seconds, focusing. We repeat this for as long as needed or until everyone is aware, connected, and calm.
We then feel 3 different types of gratitude. I know this sounds a little weird, but these feelings touch different parts of your heart and mind. So spend around 1-2 min feeling: gratitude, appreciation, and love.
You can start by listing things and then once you feel the feeling, sit in that feeling for 1 minute. Here are some examples:
I am grateful for clean water, my family, vacations, sleep, my body.
I appreciate a home-cooked meal, my husband loving me, a compliment from a stranger.
I feel love from or… I feel love when…
Once you have felt those feelings you the ask the following three questions:
What do you want me to know today?
What do you want me to feel today?
What do you want me to do today?
WHAT COMES AS A RESULT OF MEDITATION
Most of the time one word will pop into my head and other days a flow of words will come. I always have a pen and paper near and I always write down the first positive feelings or words that come to my mind.
I always invite my kids to share what they feel, if they wish. It is always a grounding and positive way to start our day and although we don’t always do it- we are way happier and our house runs smoother when we do!
Meditation is something I feel I am always developing and growing with. I am, by no means, a guru with all this but I have come to a place where certain things make sense and I have come to rely on my meditation practice as a time to focus inward.
If you try this, I would love to hear about your experiences or any ways you meditate!
At the crazy point of the pandemic where toilet paper was being sold on the black market and grocery stores were empty around the country, Utah had one more surprise for us.
On the morning of March 18th 2020, there was a huge earthquake (5.7) in the Northern Salt Lake Valley. When it hit my kids were running around half-dressed and I was still lying in bed getting the gumption to face another grueling day of homeschool. At first, I thought Ammon was outside playing a joke on me and quickly realized that he wasn’t strong enough to shake our entire house! As the chandelier above me rocked back and forth and the kids were screaming I literally had a moment of pure fear. I was frozen in my bed and had zero idea what I was supposed to do. I literally couldn’t move. Do I hide under my covers? Do I tell the children to run outside? Where do we take cover? Where are my shoes? I’m literally in my underwear. All the training we had in elementary school to hide under our desks wasn’t helping to make me feel prepared for this. What is happening right now? I laid in that state for at least 30 minutes realizing that I was completely and utterly unprepared for any natural disaster – or any disaster, for that matter. And amidst a global pandemic… we had only 2 toilet paper rolls left.
I had zero stock of food, water, essentials, medicine, gas, etc. We had no cash or extra money on hand. We had no plan. We had nothing! I will tell you that in my religion preparation is preached continuously and at that moment my testimony of being prepared came about. That feeling of complete panic and loss was shocking to me.
From that moment on, both Ammon and I sat down and came up with some serious plans and goals to get our household more prepared for the next emergency. We came up with systems and preparations that would help us in a variety of worst-case scenarios. We bought chickens, we learned how to make things from scratch – like sourdough bread. We learned how to prep a garden and how to can & store the food that we grow so we could rely on ourselves for food if need be. This plan, these skills and the storage we have built since then have helped us tremendously. Not just in feeling good about being prepared. But it has brought security and safety to our home that otherwise would not be there.
INTRO TO THRIVE LIFE
Through this journey, we were introduced to Thrive Life. Thrive Life is a freeze-dried food manufacturer that has all varieties of food storage. From fruits and vegetables to meats, dairy, and spices! One of my followers, and now friends, Amber Dm’ed me at the beginning of this journey and told me to come and take a tour of the Thrive Life factory. Ammon and I went down and got the deluxe tour and our minds were blown away! It was inspiring, educational, and exactly what I needed to get our family on the right path to better food storage.
As we kept buying Thrive Life food, monthly, to build our food storage we realized how delicious and quality the food is! We started slowly learning to use thrive in our daily lives and we now buy it not just for food storage, but to use in the kitchen every day. Thrive has honestly changed our lives and I can’t wait to share some of our favorite ways to use it, what to get, how to plan your food storage, and really- just all the things! Each week I will post a new recipe or teach a little something new about Thrive so it isn’t overwhelming. I want to keep this fun and light because it can get serious and dark pretty fast thinking of all the worst-case scenarios we could find ourselves in. It can also be so overwhelming and expensive if you don’t have a plan. Follow along and let me try and help!
Have miracles ceased? If you are asking me… I can honestly say- no! My faith in this community and my respect for giving hearts have swelled immensely over the last couple of weeks.
The love and generosity I have witnessed recently have been nothing short of an absolute miracle. I have been in contact with so many giving people and have read hundreds of stories of families and individuals that exist in very dark places. These last couple of weeks have had a profound change on my heart as I have seen both great abundance and serious suffering displayed right before my very eyes.
Our $250 Story
When Ammon and I were new parents we made $17,000 the entire year. We were so strapped for money. We weren’t living paycheck to paycheck, we were living credit card minimum to credit card minimum. ON Christmas eve we got a knock on our door and there was an envelope with $250 cash in it. Both Ammon and I dropped to the ground and both started bawling. We were so grateful and felt that someone upstairs was looking out for us. We weren’t vocal about our financial struggles and didn’t let on that we needed help, we were prideful and stubborn. Our hearts changed that day forever.
That $250 had a very real impact on us and how we viewed other people’s generosity. It was that $250 that sparked the idea to make the same impact on the needy and the givers this Christmas season. I wanted to help. I wanted to do something that would help people feel loved and blesses. I wanted to give the gift of hope. And so… an idea sparked…
Giving Tuesday Was Born
I made the announcement last Monday having zero clue what was going to happen. I knew that our community would jump into action… I just had no idea to what extent! Ayres Force came in like a literal wrecking ball and blew all of us away!
I thought that we would raise enough money to give $250 to 20 families and help make Christmas a little brighter this year. Within one week we raised over $40,000!!!! That is over 160 families.
The most difficult part… reading the flood of heartbreaking stories of families and individuals that were being nominated to receive a cash gift. People from all walks of life… brothers, neighbors, grandparents, children… every type of person imaginable. I have been so humbled to be entrusted with helping so many in such a special way. The choice as to who will be receiving the cash gifts has been a very difficult process and one that quickly takes an emotional toll on me. I honestly wish I could help every single person from the stories that I have been reading.
Nominations for Help
To keep everyone in the loop on where your donations are being used, and to share some of what I have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks, here are some of the nominations we were sent in that especially touched my heart. We will leave names and locations out in order to protect the identity of those who were nominated. Another unexpected surprise was the immense gratitude from those that were chosen to receive cash gifts. I have been so touched with the gratitude that I have included some of them here. As you read them, put your name wherever you see mine because you are the ones who made this miracle a reality. Get your tissue box ready…
From a humble wife…
I am nominating my husband, and our family because he works so hard. He and my daughter deserve something for Christmas that we don’t have the means for currently. I literally cried watching you and Ammon talk about your situation years ago, we relate to it so much. Giving back in our church is #1 priority to us, and with that donation, we have very little left for Groceries, let alone Christmas presents. We have a car that needs fixing, that we are spending our Christmas money to do. This paragraph sounds so stupid, I don’t even know how to talk about my family in the sense that we need help, because my husband and I have always been so reserved in this struggle.
From a concerned brother…
My sister is a single mom of two boys and one is on the autism spectrum. She is well educated and worked her entire adult life but recently had to go on disability. She was diagnosed with cancer 8 years ago and worked hard for most of that time.
But as her disease has progressed it’s become impossible for her to work. She could use that cash to make sure her kids have a few gifts for Christmas. Thanks for your consideration.
From someone trying to make a better life….
After attempting suicide this week and then losing my job over that I am not in the best place. However, after speaking with you through messenger and knowing the Lord has a plan for me I am going to keep fighting. I am just scared right now that I won’t be able to pay some of my bills until I get a new job. Thanks again for having such an amazing impact on my life during this difficult time. God put you in my life for a reason, money isn’t the reason, life is.
From a vigilant community member…
I drive a school bus in northern Utah. This mom and daughter’s family just moved in and the girl, 15, wears the same clothes daily, her mom drives a broken-down car and the girl has to walk a mile to the bus stop. I would love to give them some Christmas cash.
From a neighbor…
I would like to nominate a third-grade teacher at a low-income school and friend to many. She tragically lost her husband on Thanksgiving to a sudden heart attack. She found him dead when she returned home from a family celebration. He was 35 and they were trying to start a family. This money would be a huge help to her at this time of unexpected loss.
From a watchful neighbor…
About a month ago she found out her husband was having an affair with her brother’s wife. Yes, you read that right! They are now separated and plan to divorce. She has a 3-year-old little boy and is 6 months pregnant. It breaks my heart she is going through this and especially right before the holidays. I know this would really help her.
From a struggling wife and mother…
I am in an abusive marriage that I am unable to get out of at the moment. I have two small children and live in a different state than family and have no friends or support. I am trying to find whatever work I can from online sources since I am not able to leave my home and also am the sole carer of my children. I tried to get into therapy to take care of myself but cannot afford it. This gift may not help me escape yet but it would help mentally, or begin saving, or create a special day for my children.
From a loving sister…
My sister and her 3 girls lost her husband 3 months ago to suicide. They did IVF the day before he passed and she lost the baby recently. Nothing can prepare you for something as tragic as this is. He was the sole provider and someone she loves dearly. How does life go on for her and her 3 girls? She will need all the help she can get emotionally, spiritually, and physically these next many years ahead. The fears, worry, and loss of trust are real. I know holidays are a struggle and this will be the 1st without their dad/husband. Any amount of help is much appreciated. She has so much to overcome.
A protecting mother…
My 3 children (6,5, and 3) and I have been trying for over 3 years to get out and far away from my abusive spouse, their father. It has been so difficult and exhausting and terrifying. It might finally be coming to a close, I’m praying and praying it truly is nearing the end of having to deal with this man! My precious babies have been through the emotional ringer at such young ages and had to watch me cry my way through endless situations trying to protect them from any further mental trauma from their father. Pray also, that the state allows me full custody come the end of the year! The holidays with a sociopath were always twisted and tragic and those experiences have seemingly robbed my ability at joy this time of year. I wish I could give my kids the world but America is not set up for the success of single mothers. Government assistance is nice and all but not an ideal life.
A brave mother…
I am a survivor of domestic abuse of 16 years. Not sure where Christmas will come from. I will be homeless Jan 31st and without a car soon, as my ex activated repossession. I’m desperate. I’m a mom asking for help for myself and my girls! I hope we are picked. I know this is weird me nominating myself and my girls but we’ve been through so much! I will always be an advocate and protector for my girls! I’m in the trenches and I need a job and I’m struggling, battered women are not heard in the court system and I am not heard! We need help.
Thank you. ❤️
A mother on a new path…
I have 3 kiddos two girls 12, 10, and a son who is 4. I left their father this past weekend and moved in with my parents. It turns out that he has a horrible drug addiction problem and hasn’t paid rent in months. I wasn’t aware of any of this until the landlords started pounding on my door last Thursday 😭 I’ve only been able to buy 1 present for each of them so far and it’s already too late to sign up for any programs going on in my community. I’m looking for work. I’ve had interviews but nothing so far. It doesn’t help that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the last 5 years. I know there are probably families in way worse shape than I am at the moment but I figured I would give it a shot! If not, just keep us in your prayers as I figure out this new chapter of being a single mom. I would be undoubtedly grateful either way.
A family struggling to get back on their feet…
We are a little family of 4 soon to be 5 and are struggling to make ends meet each month. Our 2 little boys deserve the world and it kills me that we can’t give them that. Our 3-year-old is in need of some clothes and shoes and providing diapers for the 18-month-old is getting harder and harder. I would love to be able to get them Christmas church clothes because they have been wearing shorts to church because that is all we have. We can’t even think about buying them toys for Christmas when they don’t have all the necessities. Covid has hit our family hard this year and my husband just got a new job and we are trying to get back on our feet again. I know so many others have it so much worse so we understand if you’re not able to help us but just thought it wouldn’t hurt to put it out there and pray.
And that is just a tiny fraction of what I have been reading through over the last week… this has been such a difficult process and one that reminded me to be so grateful for the life I have.
A Pouring out of Gratitude
Although it is heartbreaking to read these – the gratitude and miracles happening are so inspiring. Here are some of my favorite “Thank yous” from these nominees:
AyresForce, to the rescue!
I read through literally hundreds of these stories my heart goes out to every single suffering soul this Christmas. We have already begun giving the cash donation to many of the nominees and the outpouring of gratitude has been overwhelming. I have been so blessed to be a vehicle for good and I am so lucky to be surrounded by such a giving community.
YOU are the heroes of this story and your donations will bring Christmas joy to MANY individuals and families. This is quickly becoming one of the most memorable Christmases of my life and it’s all because of all of you.
I’m finally coming back to the world of the living after getting over my jet lag, but GREECE, you guys! Absolutely worth all the sleepless nights and sleepy days. So many of you wanted more details about the trip so I decided to put this post together to give you a more in-depth view of the trip.
First, why Greece?
I actually asked my mom about eight months ago to go on a trip to France with me. She and her mom have always had a love for antiques and went on multiple trips to France together over the years to go antiquing. It was a really special thing for them and I’d always wanted to do something similar with my mom. When I mentioned the idea, she was totally on board. Then, a little while later, she suggested we make it a full girls trip with all of my sisters. This sounded even more amazing to me! We bought our tickets to France, got the trip planned and then two weeks before we were supposed to leave things in France went crazy. Covid was obviously a factor, but terrorist threats also spiked because our travel was over September 11. The government suggested we not go, but none of us wanted to totally call off the girls trip. My sister Emily got to work, hopped online, and found this cruise in Greece that looked really fun. We booked it very last minute, and a couple weeks later we were floating on the Mediterranean!
We flew out of Salt Lake City and arrived in Athens around 10:30 in the morning. We didn’t board the cruise ship until close to 6:00 pm, so with that being our only day in Athens we hit the ground running.We rented a rented a van and hired a driver right from the airport to accommodate the five of us and our luggage. We could have rented a taxi, which I’m sure would have been cheaper, but the van was 400 Euro for the day and the driver to took us wherever we wanted to go. Being able to leave our luggage with him made all the difference. We were able to just tour around to our heart’s content without lugging our suitcases behind us. We went to sights like the Parthenon, the Acropolis and the Panathenaic Stadium. At the stadium there was this little place to eat and it was so delicious. I’m telling you, the food was amazing the entire trip. I couldn’t get over it. There was also an open air market in Athens that was really cute and fun but we were all so jet lagged and exhausted, I don’t remember much from that day. Our time in Athens was short and sweet because that evening we took the van right to the port and from there boarded our cruise ship.
The Cruise and Traveling during Covid
Azamara was the name of the cruise line we used, and it was unbelievable. It absolutely exceeded all of our expectations. Our trip was the second cruise they had done since Covid and it felt like there was literally no one but us on the ship. We were told the maximum capacity was 700 passengers, and some of the staff told us there were only 180 passengers on our cruise. To be honest, I seriously even doubt that number because it seemed like there was barely a soul but us on the ship, which was actually so nice.
A lot of people wondered about Covid and the steps we needed to take to make this trip happen. In order to get on the ship, every passenger had to take a Covid test at the port before boarding. We did not have to take a test to get into Greece, but we did have to prove that we’d been vaccinated to get into the country. Travelers to Greece need to go onto Greece’s government website and show proof of vaccination and then in order to get on the ship passengers have to get a negative test. I was nervous for some reason, but thankfully we all tested negative. We talked to the nurses there as we were testing and they said they’d seen very few positive test results. As far as our return back home, the United States requires a negative Covid test result to come back into the country. Azamara actually provided those tests for us on the ship in the timeframe we needed, which was great. The entire process was surprisngly smooth and seamless for us. There were a few times within Greece, for instance going into a mall or into some of the restaurants, where we were asked to show our vaccination cards. I think that happened maybe three times the whole time we were there.
Our second day we spent in Santorini, the city that likely comes to mind when you think of Greece. It’s the hilly city next to the ocean covered in white and blue buildings. It’s super pretty, but I thought it was way too hyped up. We rented a car for the day, which was about 40 Euro, and were able to go through the entire island in one day. We walked through old town, which is really beautiful. The town has tons of shopping and lots of picturesque views, but honestly, that’s about all I felt it had to offer. We went to a beach, which is where I went skinny dipping, which was was obviously really fun. 🙂 Honestly, I think our expectations were really high for Santorini and it underdelivered in my opinion. It was probably number 3 or 4 for me out of the 5 or 6 cities we visited. It was just really dry and not green at all, but that’s also probably because we were there in September. It was beautiful in its own way.
In order to get to the top of Santorini there’s a gondola ride that costs 40 Euro. The other options to get to the top are to rent donkeys or walk. I was told that if you rent donkeys you end up smelling like donkeys the rest of the day, so we didn’t do that, but I kind of wish we would have. Ha! Memories, right? I think it’s about a 1.5 mile walk up the steps, which we decided sounded like too much. We chose to take the gondola up and then later walked down, which was surprisingly painful on my knees even though I’ve been hiking and training for my hike through the Grand Canyon. It was really steep down and there was tons of poop because of the donkeys. It was really beautiful, but it was just that one city, you know? And all there was to do was eat and shop. Just not my absolute favorite.
Day 3 we spent in Rhodes, which was incredible! I think we would all say it was our favorite day of the trip. The city was so beautiful and charming. There were tons of archaeological things to do, the food was amazing, and the shopping was insane and much cheaper than a lot of other places in Greece. We could have spent a lot more time there. We again rented a car for 40 Euro and were able to go around the whole island. We were blown away by the place! The man who rented the car to us recommended we eat at this tiny little seaside restaurant called Stegna Kozas. It was so cute and the food was amazing! We ate fresh fish, and their olive oil is made right next to the restaurant, which was insane. Their balsamic vinegar was also unreal and they had this sauce made out of crushed olives that I about died over. I have dreams about how amazing that experience and all the food was. We just sat there for like three hours and chatted overlooking the Mediterranean. It was so special and perfect and everything you’d ever want in a girls trip, or in life, really. 🙂
A Day at Sea
The next day we spent at sea without service, which was still so much fun. The ship’s food, especially the restaurant aboard on Deck 5, was incredible! It was not like typical cruise food at all. It was super nice. We went to Deck 5 every night for dinner and it was exquisite! We felt like they nailed it, and all five of us are pretty picky. They get a 10 out of 10 for all the food from me for sure. And the staff on the ship was incredibly friendly and fun too. I would totally go back and do it again! It made even our day at sea so enjoyable and relaxing.
The next stop on our itinerary was Cyprus, and sadly, we didn’t love it. There wasn’t much to do so we ended up shopping, which luckily turned out to be fun because there was a really nice mall with lots of European shops. We weren’t impressed by the city itself though. It was super hot and humid and it felt like there was nothing to do because as a tourist you aren’t able to rent a car and most of the attractions are far away. To rent a car you have to have a European license and you have to be there for at least three days. Mount Olympus is in Cyprus, along with many other major sights, but we weren’t able to get to them because they were all too far away. We did, however, enjoy the Catacombs. There was an old, beautiful wishing tree right at the entrance of the Catacombs where you can make wishes, which was fun. Right at the port there is an archaeological site with tons of huge mosaics, but we missed it because we were just done by the end of the day. My sister, Kelli, ended up going there by herself and she said she thought it was incredible.
The next day we went to Crete, which we we all loved! It was probably our second or third favorite city of the trip. It is huge and again like Cyprus, was difficult to rent a car. However, there was enough nearby and within a taxi ride that made it a really lovely day. Much of our time there was spent visiting an old leper colony, Spinalonga. We rented two taxis to get there, which cost about 20 Euro each and then we got on a little ferry to get to the island. Visiting Spinalonga was a really spiritual experience for me. Spinalonga was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. Thinking about all those who lived there had to go through and the community they eventually created on this island felt really humbling. We went to lunch right there on the coast, which was really quaint and cute. The hummus was absolutely killer! I could have bathed in the stuff. The downtown of Crete was really charming too. There were lots of churches and cafes and it was just really picturesque. I felt like I could have spent a week there. I would love to just go on a week long trip just to Crete and Rhodes in the future.
On our last day we visited to Mykonos which we also enjoyed. The island is quite small and we were able to rent a car there, which was lovely. There are tons of beaches, but the one we decided on for the day was Kalafati Beach. The beach itself was free, unlike most the others there, and there were cabanas we could lounge on as well. We actually drove to 3 or 4 different beaches in our car and ended up choosing this one. We laid out most of the day and hung out, which was so relaxing. Later, we went to the downtown, which was gorgeous. It is one of the prettiest places I have ever been. Things there are pricey, but for the experience, it’s absolutley worth it. The town is really intricate with tons of twists and turns and I guess they made it like that to protect the city from the wind. There was a dress shop we went to there that was amazing. I wanted to buy everything! Mykonos is known to be really LGBTQ friendly and there’s lots of diversity there as far as that goes I think because of that. It’s known, I think, for its nightlife, but it’s still really amazing during the day.
On our last day we came back and ported in Athens again. We could have left the ship early but we didn’t know where we would put our luggage so we ended up staying on the ship until 9 pm and then got a taxi directly from the ship to the airport. It was expensive because the airport is about 45 minutes away from the port, but it was nice to be able to take our bags straight there.
I would absolutely recommend this trip to anyone. Whether it be a girls trip, a couples trip or a family trip, it would absolutely be worth it. I think it was about $3,500 per person in total for the flight and the cruise. I’m so glad we decided to move forward with our girls trip, even after coming into some bumps along the road. It all turned into such a happy accident and I know we will be dreaming of that blue water and all of that delightful hummus for years to come.
I’m kind of a dreamer. A dreamer and a doer, really. I always have been. It’s part of who I am. I just love to see what possibilities hold and I’ve somehow found the confidence to just make big leaps and see what happens. But there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes in a dreamer’s world. Making decisions is at the center of it all, and a lot of those are big decisions.
I get asked a lot on Instagram how I make those decisions. How do we sell our house and box it up in a matter of weeks, not exactly knowing where we will land? Or how did I decide to write and sell a cookbook, or have Ammon quit his job so we could pursue some career opportunities I had coming my way? I’ve always had a bit of a method to my madness and decided to spill the beans on some of the ways I sort it all out and settle on what feels best.
Talk it out
Talk about the decision with anyone the decision will directly affect (your partner, children, parents, etc.). Listen to their opinions. Ask the people you love and trust most for their advice, or even consult a trusted expert.
Jesus, Take the Wheel
Are you singing the Carrie Underwood song? I belt it out when I’m trying to make a big decision! Seriously though, prayer and meditation have helped me make countless decisions. I truly believe that God and the Universe want what’s best for all of us. I pray, then listen with my heart and trust my feelings. Going out into nature, attending the temple, or visiting another sacred place to you may help.
Lean into the fear
I believe that the more afraid a choice makes you, the more you should DO IT. Just take the leap. If it ends up being a mistake, it’s a mistake. Life’s too short. When deciding whether or not to move far from family, my husband would always say, “Worst case scenario we sell the place and move back.”
Do Your Homework
Research your choices. What are they? Are there other options or compromises you hadn’t considered? Is this a financial decision? Can you afford it? Crunch those numbers. Is now the right time? If not, when? Write everything down and make a pros and cons list.
Take a Step Back
Sometimes listening to everyone’s advice and researching things to death leaves me feeling more confused than ever! If that happens, take a step back, sleep on it, or go do something you enjoy. Take your mind off of the problem for a bit, and come back when you’re feeling refreshed and ready. A little distance from it can give you fresh eyes on the situation.
Go With Your Gut
There are many ways to test your gut reaction. Flip a coin! Were you hoping for heads or tails? I think we often know what our decision should be, but it takes seeing how you feel if things went the other way to know for sure.
Look at the Bigger Picture
Is this decision in line with your long term goals? If it is and gets you closer to where you want to be 5 or 10 years from now, do it! If you’re unsure, set those longer-term goals first and then see where this current decision will take you.
I also asked my Instagram followers a little while ago how they made big decisions and I loved the responses and wanted to share them here:
The more fear you have about something = the more you should DO IT
This sounds crazy but I decide which option feels more fun! God will stop you if it’s not right
Just do the thing! Regroup after a while to see if it was right or wrong
Decide. Wait 24 hours and if you can’t feel peace about it, make the other choice
Move forward and it’ll fall into place like a puzzle, or you’ll get an unsettling feeling and change
Close your eyes, deep breaths, and imagine your future
What will be best for your kids?
Pull the decision out of a hat… seriously!
Go on a walk with your partner and chat about all of the possibilities
Have a drink… lol
I test decide the opposite. If I am relieved or dismayed, that is good information.
Trust your intuition
Do a lot of research and ask lots of questions
Radical acceptance. What if’s stop decision making and limit our power of choice
If I was 100 and looking back on my life at this moment, would I be proud that I took this risk?
Break a wish bone
Talk to your kids. Even being little they still have emotions and opinions
Magic 8 ball
Get a life coach
If I see me happy there in the long run I go for it
I think about the very first feeling I had regarding the decision
I consult a trusted expert
I move forward because standing still doesn’t get you answers
I make a vision board
Just have faith
Make baby steps in a direction and see where it takes you
Journaling helps you pull out and dissect how you really feel about something
Sleep on it. You often have a fresh perspective in the morning
Take your time, making sure not to rush anything
Write out regrets for both sides and see which one is worse
Just take the leap! If it ends up being a mistake, it’s a mistake. Life’s too short to sit there and wonder.
I hope these were helpful for you! Honestly, I’ve rarely regretted just going for something. I think my confidence in decision-making comes from doing it a lot and learning from my triumphs and my failures. The worst case scenario very rarely happens, and even if things don’t go as you planned, it all usually turns into something better than you even imagined. So make those big decisions! Step into the dark. Go for your dreams and see what happens!
Another fun highlight was playing Guess Who with Ammon and then with Jasmine when I went up to visit her in Idaho. I’m pretty sure hundreds of you tagged me and have enjoyed a riveting game of Guess Who too.
This reel we made was a favorite on IG. I honestly had the hardest time keeping it together and it still makes me laugh watching Ammon’s face.
And Thrive Life, man. I talk about it a lot, but it’s because I love it and you guys love it too! The state of the world is so crazy and you will never, ever regret having food storage. I did a blog post this month about Thrive Life if you want to see me in the kitchen whipping up some minestrone soup with tons of their products. It’s the best.
You also all know my love for Mixhers. It’s their birthday this month and they are giving away a free Babe Lash Essential Serum for each subscription! I love this stuff and use it all the time. Try it! You’ll love it too.
Remember how I wrote a children’s book? Well, quite a few of you do because we continue to sell copies and it makes me so happy! If you’re interested, you can buy my book Gold HERE!
You also all loved these shoes I bought off of Amazon. I do too! They are so comfortable and flattering and go with everything.
I think that’s a wrap for August! All of the highlights all in one place. Happy end of the month, my friends! And happy almost FALL!
Do you remember when Covid hit last year and toilet paper was literally wiped off of shelves? No pun intended. 😉 Honestly, walking into Walmart and having literal shelves of food totally empty was so jarring to me. A few days after the Covid lockdown in Utah, I was laying in bed and had a major wakeup call. Ammon was at work, all the kids were in bed and I woke up to an earthquake happening in Salt Lake City. I just laid there watching my chandelier swinging above me and I literally had no idea what to do.
It was in that moment I realized how unprepared I was for an actual disaster. I just sat there paralyzed. I didn’t have any 72 hour kits ready. I didn’t even know how to respond to what had just happened. What should I do first? Should I get my kids out of the house? Do I hide under my bed? Where do we go? Where are our shoes? I can’t even find our shoes when we’re trying to get out the door for a play date, let alone a natural disaster. I had so much anxiety about it all.
It was shortly after that experience that I truly dove into preparedness. I needed peace of mind. I needed to have a plan for my family. I feel like anyone who doesn’t think being prepared is important is going to be so sorry when they find themselves in a predicament like this. They’ll be at a total loss because they haven’t taken the time to think about it beforehand. I don’t want that to be me.
Now insert: Thrive Life. Thrive Life is a company that produces freeze dried food that is delicious and lasts forever. Well, not forever, but a really, really long time. Shortly after my wake up call, I got a direct message on Instagram from Amber Solberg at Thrive asking me if I wanted to come see what they had to offer. She let me try all their different products and they were honestly amazing! It all tasted so fresh and it shocked me because I was tasting a tomato and it tasted better than a fresh, store bought tomato…and it was freeze dried! It was the weirdest thing ever. It is insane how fresh all of Thrive’s food tastes. I was blown away! And Thrive Life doesn’t offer just fruits and vegetables, they also have things like freeze dried cheeses and meats. I was skeptical, but when they have liquid added to them, you can’t even tell they aren’t fresh from the dairy or meat section at your local grocery store!
Thrive Life’s produce is harvested right at its nutritional peak and is flash frozen within hours of being picked, often right on the farm. By slowly drying the food after it’s frozen, they’re able to preserve pretty much all of the nutrition and the flavor. By drying the produce the food is naturally preserved, which helps it stay good on the shelf for years. Thrive Life food lasts for 30 years unopened. This is food storage that truly stands the test of time.
I’ve started to realize I can incorporate Thrive Life food into my every day life, not just when the shelves at the grocery store are bare. Initially I just bought it for food storage, but I’m now learning how to incorporate their food into my everyday cooking. Honestly, it is just as good as anything fresh, especially when you’re making things like casseroles or soups or even salads. The peas and the corn on a salad are so good, and it’s so much healthier than a crouton, you know? It’s really fresh, good food and tastes incredible.
There are multiple ways to buy from Thrive Life. First, you can buy their food directly from their site. Just go online, see what’s in stock and purchase it. Second, you can sign up as a consultant and sell the product. By signing up as a consultant you don’t have to sell, but get all of the deals and discounts they offer for their members even without selling. However, if you do sell, you could earn income on top of the discounts, which is amazing. The third option is a membership where you have product delivered to you monthly. When you get on the delivery service you get tons more perks. You get $100 dollars worth of food sent to you each month, free shipping, and it’s just so easy.
I’m so grateful I found Thrive Life when I did. It has honestly brought me peace of mind in a time that feels a little crazy. It’s a small and steady way that you can build your food storage and gain confidence in the fact that you are prepared.
A month or two ago, Amber from Thrive Life actually came to my house to cook with me with products from Thrive and we had so much fun together! We actually made four different recipes from my cookbook and seeing how easily she incorporated Thrive products to make family favorite recipes blew me away. They tasted just as fresh as they normally do, all made with freeze dried food! Below is a video of us making one of those recipes, my Nana’s Italian minestrone soup. I couldn’t believe it! So good.