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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Creamy Cucumber Bacon Salad #GameTimeClean #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameTimeClean #CollectiveBias

Fall is in full swing and it's time to break out the comfort food! I love making warm and hearty dinners for my family when it's chilly out. Still, sometimes it's nice to set off the rich and meaty with something cool and refreshing. That's what this Creamy Cucumber Salad is---crisp, fresh, and full of zesty flavor. Fall is also the season for game time and this salad is an excellent tailgating take along. You can make it ahead of time and it's easy to transport in a covered container.

My whole family loved this salad when I served it last night and Jamie said he was excited for lunch time today so he can enjoy some leftovers! It was super easy to prepare and clean up was simple with Viva Vantage paper towels. I tend to have really sensitive skin so lots of water irritates it. I love using paper towels during cooking because I can use them to mop up messes during the prep process and then wash the counters once at the end with soap and water. These ones are cloth-like; soft and strong and textured so they scrub well without ripping.

I found this 6-pack of Viva Vantage paper towels at Walmart in the paper products section of the grocery side. This pack is a great size for our large family. 

I love using these high-quality, super absorbent paper towels for soaking up bacon grease. After this bacon drained, I lifted the towel and the plate below was dry. I love that!

For this recipe, I removed the seeds and excess juice from the tomatoes to keep the salad from getting soggy. The towel captured all the juice, leaving me with no mess.

Creamy Cucumber Bacon Salad

3 cucumbers
2 large tomatoes
6 slices of bacon
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 TB. horseradish mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste

Fry the bacon and set on a paper towel to cool. Slice the cucumbers, tomatoes, and bacon into bite-sized pieces. Whisk mayo, mustard, and seasonings in a separate bowl, then mix in with the cut ingredients. Stir well and chill until you're ready to serve.

If you're looking for easy clean up from a strong paper towel, give Viva Vantage paper towels a try. What are some of your favorite tailgating and potluck dishes? Let me know in the comments below!

Super Simple Smoky BBQ Chicken Pot Pie #FullnRichFlavor #Pmedia #ad

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Birds Eye®, and Farm Rich® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #FullnRichFlavor  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

With our busy schedules, it can sometimes seem like a deliciously flavored dinner is trumped by the quickest and easiest solution. I'm excited to share one of our family's favorite simple homemade meals, made with a couple of great products from Birds Eye and Farm Rich® Smokehouse. Whether you're strapped for time or have all afternoon to put together dinner, you'll love this smoky homemade pot pie!  

I found Farm Rich® Smokehouse Dry Rub Smoked Chicken and Birds Eye Barbecue Sweet Corn at Walmart in the freezer section. There are lots of flavors of both products to choose from. I love that these are already flavored for me. That's one less step and a few less ingredients I have to worry about on a busy night.

For a limited time, earn $0.75 on Birds Eye Vegetables and unlock $1.00 off one Farm Rich® Smokehouse product with Ibotta, while supplies last. If you haven’t used Ibotta, first download the app available on iOS and Android. Before you shop, be sure to unlock the rebates for both Birds Eye Vegetables and Farm Rich® Smokehouse. Then, shop! Buy the products that you’ve unlocked at major retailers. Finally, verify your purchase by scanning your barcodes and submitting a photo of your receipt!

I've been making various versions of this chicken pot pie for several years and it's always a hit. This recipe makes two pie pans but the filling freezes well. If two pies are too much for one dinner at your house, make one for now and save one for another busy week night! Just be sure to freeze only the filling portion and then continue on with the crust instructions on the night you plan to bake it.

I started by pouring my corn and peas into a bowl to partially thaw on the counter while I cooked the chicken. This ensures they're nice and hot when the pie is finished baking. If you'd like to prepare this corn as a side dish, you can steam it right in the bag in your microwave.

After the chicken was finished cooking, I mixed it in with the vegetables and some grated pepper jack cheese. Then I mixed in the soup and poured into the prepared pans. I topped it with the crust batter and let it bake.

This delicious Smoky BBQ Chicken Pot Pie is a great meal for any evening, but we especially love it on cool autumn evenings. This is comfort food at its best!

Smoky BBQ Chicken Pot Pie

Filling:
12 oz. frozen peas
8 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
26 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup

Crust:
2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 TB melted butter
4 eggs
2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 375ยบ. Pour the frozen corn and peas into a bowl to partially thaw on the counter. Bake the chicken according to package directions. When chicken is done, add to the bowl with the vegetables, and stir in cheese and soup. Pour mixture into two pie pans, 1 13x9 pan, or individual ramekins. In a separate bowl, mix dry crust ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into the bowl you mixed the filling in and whisk until mixed well. Add to dry ingredients, stir well, and pour on top of filling. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until the batter puffs up and turns golden brown.

Monday, September 28, 2015

DIY Camera Case & Purse Pouch Made From Recycled Materials #BringingInnovation #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias

In a family with nine tech-loving children, you can imagine the batteries we go through! Recently I picked up Energizer® EcoAdvanced™batteries, a choice I've made before. I love it that I can purchase recycled batteries for my kids' electronics and know that I'm making less of a stamp on our environment. Our big family is on a mission to improve the world we live in by recycling and being creative with the resources we have. This morning, I made this cute camera pouch for my purse. It took about 10 minutes to put together and it's made entirely of materials I had around the house.

We found Energizer® EcoAdvanced™batteries at Walmart near the electronics section. These are the first batteries to be made with recycled materials. These AA and AAA batteries from Energizer® are their highest performing alkaline batteries. When we use longer lasting and reliable batteries, we use fewer batteries. This creates less waste to impact our environments.

I started the project with a french fry box, some duct tape, and scissors. 

First, I cut open the box along one side and across the bottom.

Then I cut about 1/2" off the top of the front of the box all the way to the side seam.

Then I applied the duct tape to both sides of the box. Using duct tape keeps the pouch moisture and bump resistant. I applied tape to one side, then cut off the excess before applying the second side and cutting off the excess. This made it easy to follow the outline of the box.

Finally, I taped up the side and bottom with strong clear packing tape and adhered a button and string to keep it shut.

Learn more about Energizer® EcoAdvanced™batteries here. I'd love to hear about your latest DIY project!


Moving Toward a More Natural Lifestyle #NaturalGoodness #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NaturalGoodness #CollectiveBias

Our family has made a good effort this year to move toward a more natural lifestyle. From nixing the processed foods to finding ways to reuse and recycle, we're changing our stamp on the environment as well as cleaning up our act for more strength, energy, and an overall fulfilled life. As the mother and homemaker in my family, it's my responsibility to make sure I give everyone the best care I can---a big job that I take seriously.

This week, we've had the opportunity to try Tom's of Maine® brand toothpaste products with some great results. I'm impressed by the fact that they don't contain any artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, or preservatives. If animal products or testing is a concern for you, rest assured that this Maine-based company doesn't test on animals or use animal products in their toothpastes.

I found Tom's of Maine® Simply White® Clean Mint Cavity Protection Toothpaste at Walmart in the toothpaste aisle. I bought the kids Tom's of Maine® Silly Strawberry® Anticavity Toothpaste, found with the other kids' toothpastes. Tom's of Maine® also offers other natural products like deodorant, bar soap and mouthwash. Learn more about Tom's of Maine®'s ingredients, purpose and source, by visiting their website.

It's so important to build healthy habits. Oral care and hygiene have always been really important to me---especially when it comes to my kids. With a family the size of ours, it can be difficult to establish good routines for the kids, but it's so important to do so when it comes to caring for our teeth and gums. Using natural products helps me feel like I'm offering them something safe and effective.

Are you excited about the Tom's of Maine® line of oral hygiene products? Let me know how you help your family live a more natural lifestyle.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

From Fezzik to Buttercup: Week One


I woke up yesterday morning, the morning of my eighth day, with such hope! The nightgown that was tight on me just a week ago must have grown this week because it's huge now! I've lost 18 pounds this week and at least a dress size. I feel awake, alert, and positive. I've been keeping this journal all week of what I eat and how I feel. It's amazing to me how my attitude and physical feelings have changed in just a week!

Day One
Breakfast: bacon, scrambled eggs, strawberries, tea
Lunch: chicken taco salad with lettuce, chicken, sour cream, olives, tomatoes, cheese
Dinner: chicken stir fry with peppers and onions

Treats: (off plan) Elisha made cookies at co-op and really wanted to share with me. I had one in the morning and one in the evening.

Feeling: sugar detox symptoms like headaches, clamminess, nausea, body aches

Day Two
Breakfast: bacon, scrambled eggs, strawberries, water
Lunch: chicken taco salad, tea
Dinner: (off plan) toast with butter and jam, hot chocolate (dumped out the last half---too sweet!)

Feeling: (morning) bad headache, cloudy vision, stuffy head and nose
(afternoon) exhausted but motivated

Day Three
Breakfast: bacon, scrambled eggs, strawberries, tea
Lunch: chicken stir fry
Dinner: Cinnamon Roll MIM, banana, bacon

Exercise: walked 5 miles, half of it on very steep hills. I've never walked that far for fitness alone, but if I can do it for pleasure in England, I can do it for health in Arkansas.

Feeling: (morning)---not nearly as hungry and ate smaller portions, headache is gone, still exhausted

Day Four
Breakfast: bacon, Cinnamon Roll MIM, strawberries
Lunch: wasn't at all hungry so I skipped it
Dinner: Creamy Chicken Soup

Exercise: lots and lots of housework

Feeling: motivated, alert, still a little sleepy and slight headache, fuzzy vision, can't believe I've made it to day four.

Day Five
Breakfast: Almond meal MIM with sweet cream cheese and strawberry Polaner's, bacon, strawberries
Lunch: Almond meal MIM with sweet cream cheese and strawberry Polaner's, deviled eggs, chicken
Dinner: baked chicken, sweet potato fries
Second Dinner: Almond meal MIM with sweet cream cheese and strawberry Polaner's, bacon, strawberries

Exercise: rearranged furniture, lots of housework

Feeling: woke up at 3am feeling rested and motivated, weighed this morning and have lost about 9 pounds

Day Six
Breakfast: bacon, strawberries, cheese stick
Lunch: chicken, Almond meal MIM with sweet cream cheese and strawberry Polaner's
Dinner: egg roll in a bowl

Feeling: very energetic! Woke up at 4am to go get groceries. Had an article written by 7:30. Planning to do a huge meal planning/grocery list today and decorate for fall. Tomorrow I'll be ordering the THM books because, while I know I'm eating on plan foods, I don't think I'm pairing them up right---and I know I can't eat three MIMs in a day and lose. Ha! I'm finding that I'm not winded doing simple things anymore and that I can move much more easily and have more flexibility.

Day Seven
Breakfast: Almond meal MIM with sweet cream cheese and strawberry Polaner's x1.5, strawberries, cheese stick
Lunch: Golden Corral---gag me with a spoon! I can't ever go back!!!
Dinner: steamed chicken and broccoli, strawberries, Tazo Passionfruit tea

Feeling: wow! I'm really feeling awesome. I've lost about 15 pounds and a dress size. I can see and feel a huge difference already. Last night, Jamie and the kids brought home cupcakes and, while I was tempted for a minute, I walked in, stared them in the face, and walked out. Ha! I'm so glad I did because I do have two planned "cheats" this coming week and the cupcakes aren't worth adding to that.
This afternoon, I ate at Golden Corral---just as sort of a test to see how I would react and maybe to see how it would be after eating healthy for a week. Talk about gag! I got all the same stuff I normally would but only could eat about a third of it. What I did eat was rubbery, way too salty, and gross! I can't imagine ever going back.

For more on my health journey, visit my From Fezzik to Buttercup page.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Great Solution for Bladder Leakage #LifeAfterLeaks #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. You must be 21+ years old to try Poise Impressa Bladder Supports. #LifeAfterLeaks #CollectiveBias

Way back when I only had two or three kids, I remember chatting with a mother of 13. She mentioned her difficulties with bladder leakage, since her many pregnancies had weakened her muscles in that area. I remember thinking that would be the most embarrassing thing and vowed to never be faced with the issue. Fast forward 10 or 11 years to this past winter when I was hit with the worst sickness I've ever experienced--a terrible case of bronchitis. A few Kegels throughout the years really are no match for 10 pregnancies and I found myself missing activities for weeks out of fear of "leaking" in public every time I coughed.

When I first saw Poise Impressa Bladder Supports at CVS, I was intrigued by the concept. It looked like a great way to help with minor leakage in a discreet way, allowing the wearer to be active and comfortable. Poise Impressa is designed to alleviate SUI limitations and issues that arise because of leaking when you sneeze, laugh, cough, dance, or exercise. Always start with a sizing kit. It will give you three options to help you find the right size fit for your body. The size is not about how much you leak or how much you weigh. It's about the best internal fit for you.

You'll find the Poise Impressa Sizing Kit near the pantiliners at CVS. Make sure to grab your printable Poise Impressa Starter Kit coupon, good only at CVS, before you go. Available while quantities last.

If you have issues with bladder leakage when you laugh, cough, dance, sneeze or exercise, try Poise Impressa Bladder Supports. They're inserted like a tampon but they do not absorb leaks because they're made to help stop them. The sizing kit contains two of each size. To find your size, begin with size 1, and if you still leak, try size 2, then size 3 if needed. Once inside, the product expands to support the urethra, preventing leaks when you sneeze, laugh, cough, dance, or exercise. After you've found the right size for you, purchase the 10-count pack in the correct size for security against embarrassing leaks.

*Important: Do not wear the Poise Impressa if you are pregnant or on your period. This is not a tampon. Please wait until your period ends to use the sizing kit.

What do you think of this innovative way to help stop SUI leaks? How would Poise Impressa Bladder Supports give you more confidence?






Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Keep In Touch in a Special Way with CloudPets #CloudPetsForever #Ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CloudPetsForever #CollectiveBias

 I am absolutely in love with my kids' new CloudPets™ Teddy Bear! This is such a genius idea and I totally think it should be at the top of every mom's Christmas shopping list. CloudPets™ are new, one-of-a-kind products that keep loved ones in touch when distance separates them. A CloudPets™ owner can receive and send messages through the toy and synced phone app.

I found this CloudPets™ Bear at Walmart this morning. There were a great selection of cute ones on this end cap in the toy aisle. Right now, they can only be found at select Walmart stores but will be available nationwide soon. Make sure to grab some AA batteries (you'll need three) from the pallet display in your store.

I'm super excited to send messages to the kids next time I'm in England. Even though I'm only gone for a week or so at a time, it's hard for them having me away and a special daily message from me would really ease that stress. Before I left last week, Kynthia said she didn't think I would be her mommy anymore when I was gone. Talk about breaking my heart!

But CloudPets™ aren't just for kids. They're also a special way for long distance friends and loved ones to keep in touch. A CloudPets™ would be a fun gift for a military wife, college student, or grandparent living in a nursing home. It could even be used as a creative way to ask someone to prom or to propose! (Don't get any ideas, Lynzie! Not yet, anyway...)

One thing I really love about CloudPets™ is the option for parental controls so I can choose who has permission to send messages to the kids. Only those I invite will have access to the ability to send and a free app makes it easy to set everything up.

Check out this "How It Works" video for details on making your CloudPets™ work properly.

What creative idea do you have for using CloudPets™?



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Home from England!

Lynzie and I in front of the Assembly Rooms in Bath where Jane Austen and her characters danced the night away! Lynzie unexpectedly received an invitation to the Regency Ball while we were there and was able to attend with friends. Such a blessing. This is us preparing to join the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade.

I'm home from England---a wonderful trip with my daughter! Here are just a few highlights from the first part of our trip, in Bath---I'll try to do some more detailed stuff later. For now---sleep! Ha!

Saturday morning, we were up at dawn, walking the still quiet streets of Bath.


Lynzie's first glimpse of Bath Abbey. We attended church there Sunday morning and evening---a wonderful experience!

We took a walk near the famed Pultney Bridge. If you've read Northanger Abbey, you may be familiar with her describing this part of town.

Lynzie made some friends at the Roman Baths!

In which I prepare to sneak up and scare the pants off Jane Austen...


Thanks for linking up with the {Not Just} Homemaking Party!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

From Fezzik to Buttercup: I've Never Been an Athlete

They say you've got to walk before you can run and I suppose for a girl who is 200 pounds overweight, that's probably to be taken literally. Still, I have this weird (completely weird) desire to just go RUN...so I'm gonna give it a shot. One of these days.

For now, I'm walking. This afternoon I walked five miles!! Half of it was up some pretty steep hills and yeah, I pretty much thought I was going to die.

How do I feel after that extremely exhilarating exercise experience? Dead. I feel mostly dead.

However, I did have some motivating experiences. First, there was the sweet grandma who slowed down to offer me a ride. She looked genuinely concerned for me. So concerned that it made me sort of concerned for her. I declined sweetly. Then there was the very large, very smelly guy who slowed down to tell me he was a taxi service. About 20 years ago, I was turning down rides from sexy cowboys in big trucks. Now I'm turning down rides from fat guys in dirty minivans. Finally, to drive the knife just a little further, I was offered a ride by a fresh and breezy looking blonde who was out for a Sunday drive with her boyfriend. I tried to flash them both my most adorable grin while declining their genuine offer of aid, but it was hard because my face was really purple and swollen and all I could do was sort of drool and keep walking.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Capture the Moment- Or Live in It? -- Guest Post

Lynzie and I are gone to England so my friends are running the show! I'm so excited to welcome my friend Shirley as a guest blogger today! Shirley is an excellent photographer who inspires many in our community to get out and enjoy nature and the beautiful things in life.

I take pictures. Lots of pictures. OK, I admit I have a problem. Not only do I love getting that shot (right as I squeeze the shutter release sometimes), but I am so happy organizing, editing, and making things like photobooks and gifts from my photos.

My subjects, before I became a parent, included anything and everything I found pleasing. 

But did that change when my first child was born! I took hundreds of shots (THANK YOU, DIGITAL CAMERA DEVELOPERS!), edited each of the best 20 different ways, filled photo albums and my walls and my focus with images of my daughter. 

Since then I have slackened somewhat, especially on the editing and definitely on the printing, and these days I do get quite a few non-offspring pictures. 

But did I mention I have a problem? I have this sense that if I do not capture that moment, I will lose it somehow. I will forget it happened, the richness and joy will fade, something. My memory is not strong (many of my memories before age 18 are in snapshot form rather than video form, if that makes sense). There is a fear in my heart that many moments will fade to nothingness if not "immortalized" in a photograph. OK, so take the pictures, right? 

But it began to dawn on me as I captured birthdays, explorations, t-ball games and dance recitals that I might be missing the richness of the experience, of being wholly IN the moment, by choosing to be behind a camera. I feel incomplete without some method of capturing the moment, but perhaps I don't need 50 shots of a 45 minute dance class? 

Right now, this is my compromise, along with asking someone else to grab a few shots: get a few photos, take one when it really grabs me, then let the camera hang on its strap, at the ready, relax, and LIVE in the moment. I don't know which way is best, honestly. What is the future use of these thousands upon thousands of pictures I have taken of my daughter? Beyond the occasional photobook, enlargement, gift, memory-booster, what use are so very many minute captured details of a child's life? I don't really know the answer, but I do know that I can't cut back much more without fear whispering in my ear, "What if you forget this moment? What about THIS one? You don't want to chance THIS one disappearing into your history forever..." So I grab a shot. Or two. Or 25. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Church: What Not to Wear ~ Guest Post

Lynzie and I are gone to England so my friends are running the show! I'm so excited to welcome my friend Cherri as a guest blogger today! Make sure to check out her blog, Bingalong.

It had been years since I'd stepped foot in a church. God and I had developed an understanding; He could have my heart, but His congregation was just not for me. Too many judging eyes. Too many whispering opinions. Too much heart break.
But here I was one Sunday morning, newly dating this super cute guy. God had his heart, and he was quickly winning mine.

**********
Go to church with him? I wished I could say no, but I couldn't pass up ANY opportunity to see him. He played guitar with the worship team. I'll go just to watch, I would think. I'll keep my head down and try to blend in.

But blend in, I did not. Walking in to church that morning, heels too high and dress too short, thoughts of insecurity began to creep in. What am I doing here? What kind of church is this anyway? Assembly of God? Never heard of it. I was raised Baptist. Oh, my gosh. What if this is the kind of church where all the women wear long skirts all the time and never cut their hair? I glanced down at the sorry excuse for a skirt covering the smallest portion of my upper thigh —suddenly convinced I was going to hell.

Inner monologue running wild, I grasped tightly to Adrian's hand as we began walking down the empty hallway. We were early for the service so he could practice with the band. Suddenly worried that I'd cause him embarrassment, I leaned toward his ear and whispered, "I think my dress is too short." Before he could respond, a woman suddenly turned the corner in the hallway ahead of us. She reached out her hand to touch my shoulder and without the slightest hesitation she told me, "Sweetie, you look beautiful. Just be yourself."

Wow. WOW! That's all I needed. I will come back here, I thought to myself.

Now, more than two years later, we attend as a family. God still has my heart, and His church is now my home. In fact, after we got married, we moved thirty minutes north, just to be closer to it. The church drew us in. Not with programs or preaching, (though we enjoy both) but with a gentle touch, and a few kind words of unabashed acceptance from a stranger.

I still don't know who that woman was. Chances are good that I see her every week, but I can't recall her face. In case she's reading this, I want her to know what an impact she had on my first back-to-church experience. Not only did she welcome me, but she challenged me to welcome others in the same way. I try not to walk by an unfamiliar face without offering a smile, a gentle touch, and a few kind words; for I know what such a simple thing can do. 

"Let us not love with words or good intentions but by our actions and in truth." —1 John 3:18
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