Welcome to My First Blog!

Hi friends!! I am so happy you are here! I am really kind of excited about writing my first blog.  I am sure that puts me up on some ‘way behind the times’ list or ‘super dork’ list but I am excited! This has been on my heart for a long time and I am finally moving forward with it. People are often asking me for recipes, where I bought certain things, for fitness and nutrition tips, etc.. so my plan with this blog is to share my weekly ‘Top Five’ random favorite things with you! I first want to thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy it! If you don’t, just look at it like you would a magazine while standing in line at a grocery store, scroll really fast to the pictures or just put it down and move on to the candy! Second, I am just giving you a heads up, I will be writing from the heart and whatever comes to mind at the moment. This means that these blogs will not always have the best grammar, they will have far from perfect spelling and also just know, I have a love for exclamation points, which I realize can be annoying!!!!!!! I will try to be careful and please know that I am often annoyed too, especially at the incorrect use of ‘seen’ and ‘there, their and they’re’ but I sometimes fail with proper grammar and punctuation so this is just a fair warning! If you are annoyed, I apologize now!!!!!!

Here is a little back story on the reason I chose the name ‘Top Five with Tara’.  My vision for this blog was to share a bunch of my favorite things with friends. It was that simple! My first thought was that I was  going to call it ‘Raindrops on Roses’ (song break – My Favorite Things/Sound of Music) but then I started thinking …which is never good! My thought process went like this: “I really prefer tulips over roses but ‘Raindrops on Tulips’ does not have a good ring to it.”  Then I broke into song and got stuck on ‘Whiskers on Kittens’ and thought ‘oh wait, kitten whiskers kind of freak me out.  I am not sure why, I think it is because they are so long yet have such an important function and what if humans used whiskers?!?!?’ Then I got into bright copper kettles, warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages…all of which sounds delightful but it made me start thinking about how I was cold and could use some hot tea and the package I forgot to pickup at the post office. So you see, I decided that since my ADD went into full effect with that title, I needed to figure out something else. I was in a business meeting with a friend and we were talking about our priorities, dreams, passions, really just a lot of life stuff, and she challenged me to come up with my personal vision statement. I thought and prayed about it for a while. Finally, funny enough, I actually woke up in the middle of the night with this statement and wrote it down: “My vision of a successful life is effectively juggling Faith, Framily, Fitness, Food and Fun, giving each one my time and energy when it is their time to shine.” These five things are my ‘Top 5’ list of what is most important to me. So in thinking of a name for this blog, I went back to that and decided to go with my Top Five with Tara, at least it would give me some direction 🙂

So let’s do this….This week’s Top Five:

#1 Peanut Butter Oatmeal Protein Bars

I love to create healthy recipes, all kinds of recipes, from snacks, to meals, to baked goods, to smoothies…I just love to find creative new ways to make healthy food that tastes delicious! Now, this does not always turn out how I envision it, I have lots of kitchen fails and also a lot of things I make get an ‘Are you serious?’ or a ‘I am not trying that’ look from my kids! This week, I created a recipe that ended up being healthy, packed with protein AND better yet, kid approved (they actually ate them all in two days and then requested me to make more!) #momwin

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Here is the recipe for you to enjoy:

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Protein Bars

1c Natural Peanut Butter

½ c Pure Maple Syrup

1 Egg

3 Scoops Vegan Vanilla Protein Powder

½ c Raw Shredded Coconut

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 ½ – 2 c Quick Cook Steal Cut Oats

½ c Chopped Raw Peanuts (optional)

Blend all together well and bake on 350 for 15 minutes.

(The brands of my ingredients were: Justin’s natural peanut butter that only has peanuts as the ingredient, the maple syrup is from a local farm,  ‘Raw Fit’ Vegan Vanilla Protein, Bob’s RedMill Organic shredded coconut and oats)

#2 Thrive Market

Now there are a lot of places to buy organic, non-GMO, no junk added food but recently I came across Thrive Market and absolutely love it! So the deal with Thrive is that you pay an annual membership fee (like you would at Costco, Sam’s, etc) and you can buy a large variety of healthy packaged foods and products for the entire family (even your pets) at a discounted price, delivered to your door for free when you order $50 (which is easy to do!). I still shop local for produce and the grocery store for other items but for me, the convenience of having these items that I frequently use in my recipe creations delivered to my door is worth the membership fee alone, the discounted products are a bonus! I absolutely love the mission and passion of this company. They give a free membership to a low income family for every membership that is purchased. They are currently working with the government to be the first online food market that can accept food stamps. I am so excited for this and am so passionate about providing access to healthy foods for everyone! I highly recommend checking them out if you have a chance, your first month is free and honestly, it is so worth it! Also, if you are on their website, check out the interview with their CEOs, they have an awesome blog and they also post lots of recipes too! http://thrv.me/TopFivewithTara

#3 Rocky Mountains

I recently went on vacation to visit my bestie, Mel, who just happens to live in one of the prettiest and most peaceful places on earth: The Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Now listen, I still think Michigan wins the prize for the prettiest state, but being up in the mountains of Colorado is just an incredible feeling, you can’t explain it unless you have been there. My recommendation is to make sure it is on your bucket list and get there sooner than later! It is beautiful and has tons of activities to do in any season…just go, I am telling you , you will not regret it!! If you need ideas of where to go when you are there, let me know, I have some connections who can hook you up!! Here are a few of my favorite places:

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10-Count Bodybuilders

For any of you that have attended one of my circuit training or my latest cardio kickboxing classes…you know what this means…we love them and hate them all at the same time! Thanks to my favorite Navy SEAL vet 😉 for introducing me to these amazingly challenging and strangely fun ‘burpees on crack’! It is basically a burpee with jack feet and 2 push-ups in the middle of it, no big deal right?!?! … well except for when you do as many as possible for 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, etc… I promise, you will feel some muscles that you did not know existed!! They go like this:

  1. Start in standing position, place hands on floor
  2. Jump down into plank position
  3. Jack feet out (in plank)
  4. Jack feet in (in plank)
  5. Push-up (down position)
  6. Push-up (back to plank position)
  7. Push-up (down again)
  8. Push – up (back to plank position)
  9. Jump feet in
  10. Jump up (reach towards ceiling)

Napoleon Dynamite

Ok, ok, yes, Ava is making my favorites list this week. Not at all saying I have a favorite child (NOT AT ALL, Alex and Andie are my favorites too!) but this week Ava did something completely amazing in my eyes and she deserves a shout out! She decided that not only was she going to dress as Napoleon Dynamite for ‘Dress Like a Celebrity’ night for LifeHouse Student Ministry (LSM), she also decided to take it one step up, get into full character mode and learn the entire dance. Now for all of you Napoleon fans, you know this dance! It is awkward yet amazing and hilarious! Now this girl, my Ava, dedicated an entire week to learning this dance to perform in front of all of LSM, we are talking 60+ kids and adults. Now I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure that when I was in 7th grade, I would not have had the courage to stand up and perform in front of 60+ high school and middle schoolers. She had so much fun with it and it just made me so happy in so many ways. It may seem silly and minor but in the big life picture, she learned so many things that she cannot even comprehend at her age. For her, it was a fun performance. For me, I see a tween girl, who displayed dedication, courage, strength, and confidence that is way larger than performing that dance on stage! She taught me a lot of life lessons this week regarding ‘just going for it’ when you have an idea, a passion or a vision. As a mom, watching your child accomplish something that they work for and seeing a giant smile on their face is a mom win! She ended up winning the costume contest which included a Starbucks gift card, that she wanted to treat me with for ‘buying her costume and encouraging her practices’. Seriously, this girl, she continues to amaze me with the goodness in her heart! Side note, I hope you enjoy your Halloween with your kiddos, in a blink of an eye, they get big and you will be looking back at pictures of when they were little and cute and not ‘too cool for Halloween’ teens! I included this little #TBT of Alex and Andie for the cuteness factor (and to make sure they didn’t feel slighted that Ava made the list this week..haha)

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Well friends, that is all for this week! If you made it all the way through my first blog, I seriously thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it! I challenge you to find joy in at least one thing every day this week 🙂

Enjoy Today ~ Choose Happy

Tara

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