Sunday, August 14, 2016

Is Life Really THAT Hard?


Tonight I was going through old photos, looking for an old back-to-school picture of the kids, and I found this picture. This was the last time I talked to my husband when he was in Afghanistan, before he came home from deployment. I miss military life. He misses military life. We really thought THIS was what hard life was. Countless trainings away from home, deployments, late nights, and early mornings. There wasn't much else that could be tougher. Boy, were we wrong. 

When you think life is hard, and you're questioning "why me?", remember that it's only a season. And, one day that seemingly hard season may end, and you'll miss it like crazy!

Monday, August 1, 2016

5 Back-to-School Shopping Tips

5 Back to School Shopping Tips

Last week a postcard showed up in my mailbox informing me that Middle School Orientation is in 3 weeks. THREE weeks, people! Didn't Summer just begin??

While I'm sad for the Summer to be coming to a close, I'm equally excited {if not more so} for the kids to go back to school. When I was a kid growing up, back-to-school season was my most favorite! Freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebook paper, and a Trapper Keeper {!!}. Kids these days have NO idea what a Trapper Keeper is...only the greatest notebook of all time! Children of the 80's, am I right??

I'll have four kids in school full-time this year. While I'm no expert in what's right and wrong in back-to-school shopping, I have learned a few things along the way. After all, Jake will be starting 7th grade this school year. Including preschool and VPK, that's like 8 years of solid experience.

Today I'm sharing 5 Back-to-School Shopping Tips that I've learned along the way.

/1/ Start Shopping NOW! - Back-to-School supplies sales begin to pop up the weekend after the 4th of July. For real. It seems early but, it's great for a multitude of reasons. Keep reading. Each week, pick up a Sunday paper and scour the ads for the best deals.

/2/ Shop Often - Every week each store will have different school supplies on sale. This week you can buy pencils for next to nothing and next week might be 1-inch binders. The more often you go, the less money you'll spend and the less crowds you'll have to fight when it gets closer to the first day of school.

/3/ Shop Tax Free - Check and see if your state offers a tax-free weekend for back-to-school shopping. If it isn't offered in your state, drive to a neighboring state {if gas cost is significantly lower than the tax savings} or contact your local state representative to see if he/she can get the wheels in motion on bringing that savings to you for following years!

On top of the store's sale prices, saving your state's tax percentage is an added bonus! Since I like to shop for supplies each week as the sale ads come out, I usually take advantage of tax-free weekend for the kid's clothes. After all, the clothing is the most expensive part of the shopping list. Also, tax-free weekend is a great time to buy the supplies that are "wants". You know the ones, the FROZEN folders or the more expensive mechanical pencils that they insist are far better than the ones you bought for $0.48 or the fancy-schmancy pens. Basically, anything not on the "official" supply list is generally bought during this time for an added savings.

/4/ Know Before You Go - I noticed this past school year that my kids' school puts a supply list in their end-of-year report card. Genius! This way I'm armed with a supply list weeks before the sales begin and I can make a plan. I can buy more than I need, if the price is right. If I didn't have my list I might wind up buying 3 folders at that amazing sale price when the kids actually need 4...and then I might end up paying full price for the 4th. It's nice to have a list!

/5/ Price Match - This is my most recent back-to-school shopping, "ah-ha moment" tip. In years past I would check out Sunday's paper, make a plan to go to each store that had what I needed at the best price, and go to each store. {let's not even think about the amount of gas was used in this school shopping adventure...} This year is different. I check my Sunday paper each week, gather the sale ads with the items circled that I plan to purchase, and then head to my local WalMart and utilize their Price Match Policy. It's a one-stop shop. Best of all, if the item is Buy One, Get One Free then it's 9 times out of 10 going to be cheaper on the Buy One. For instance, XYZ store had Crayola markers on sale BOGO for $2.98. WalMart's price was $1.27. This means, I was able to get the BOGO offer at $1.27 instead of $2.98. Make sense? {I was able to get each item for 64 cents, instead of $1.49.} It's truly easy and saves SO MUCH MONEY!

Are you ready for Back-to-School? What shopping tip would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

All-American Apple Crisp #CookingWithGerber

This post is sponsored by Megaphone Influence/The Women Bloggers, LLC, a #SoapboxInfluence Project. All opinions are mine alone.


Do you know how long it's been since I had a jar of Gerber baby food or a box of Gerber baby cereal in my kitchen pantry? Approximately 21 months, 3 weeks, 6 days, and 12 hours. [So long, apparently, that they were still packaged in jars and boxes. Ha!] It's been a long time since I fed a baby of mine baby food.


Before creating this recipe, I had never even thought of using baby food for anything other than feeding babies. But, after giving it a little thought, I came up with this delicious Apple Crisp recipe, that uses Gerber Oatmeal Cereal and Gerber Apples baby food. It's going to be perfect for Summer picnics and barbeques. Best part, all ingredients are found at Walmart, so no running around town searching for this or that. 

Easy Apple Crisp with Gerber Oatmeal Cereal

You'll need:

For the crust:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup Gerber Oatmeal Cereal
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon of water
For the filling:
  • 6 gala apples - peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 ounce "jar" of Gerber Apples
For the topping:
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup Gerber Oatmeal Cereal
  • 1/4 brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine crust ingredients, press into bottom of 9 inch pie dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
  2. Put filling ingredients into saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir for 10 minutes, or so, until apples begin to soften. Pour into crust.
  3. Combine topping ingredients, sprinkle evenly over filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Lower oven to 350 degrees, and continue baking for 10-12 more minutes. 
  4. Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a heaping scoop of whipped cream. 
  5. Ask yourself why you've never thought to use Gerber Oatmeal Cereal before.

Are you brave enough to Cook with Gerber?? Imagine the possibilities. You can sneak veggies and fruits into recipes, and you're kids won't suspect a thing. After all, they won't see them. 

Head over to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, and see who else has been cooking with Gerber. Search the hashtag #CookingWithGerber. You'll be astonished at the creative recipes you find! 

But wait, there's more!! Now, enter to win a $50 gift card!! One of you will win $50 to go buy lots and lots of Gerber baby cereal...or, whatever you choose. 

Good luck!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Disney's Beauty and the Beast Official Teaser Trailer #BeOurGuest

Your first look at Disney's live-action re-telling of Beauty of the Beast is here! I enjoyed Disney's live-action Cinderella, that was released in 2015 so much, I'm sure I will love Beauty and the Beast. Not to mention, I LOVE the animated version, too!

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; six-time Tony Award® winner Audra McDonald as Madame Garderobe, the wardrobe; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts. 

Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon from a screenplay by TBD based on the 1991 animated film, the film is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, providing the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.

Are you excited for this??? I know I am!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Southwest Hummus Black Bean Dip Recipe - Bush's #HummusMadeEasy

This post is a sponsored conversation made possible through The Women Bloggers in association with Kendal King Group and #SoapboxInfluence. All opinions are my own.


There's something about hummus that sounds expensive. But, it doesn't have to be. Hummus does not have to be a luxury item in your grocery cart. In fact, with Bush's Hummus Made Easy, it can be the most inexpensive item in your cart --  also, the most tasty! With baby carrots, pita chips, or sliced cucumbers, you'll be snacking on hummus every chance you get.

Have I mentioned how easy it is to make this hummus at home?? Grab your food processor, drain and rinse the beans, empty the packet of hummus flavor, and process until smooth. Done. The finished product is two cups of fresh, delicious hummus made easy.

Today, I'm sharing with you a recipe that is a favorite at every party I take it to. There's never even a teaspoons worth of this delicious dip leftover in the dish at the party's end. The original recipe uses refried beans in place of the hummus. But, I tweaked it a little to have Bush's Hummus Made Easy, the Southwest Black Bean flavor, substitute the refried beans and taco seasoning. The end result is, dare I say it, even more tasty than the original recipe!


Southwest Hummus Black Bean Dip
  • 1 can (16 oz) Bush's black beans
  • 1 pkg Bush's Hummus Made Easy Southwest Black Bean flavor
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium plum tomato
  • 3 green onions with tops
  • 2 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
  • Additional sour cream and tortilla chips (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare Bush's Hummus Made Easy per package directions. Combine pressed garlic into prepared hummus. Spread hummus over bottom of oven-safe baking dish. Combine cream cheese and sour cream; mix well. Spread cream cheese mixture over hummus. Bake 15–18 minutes or until hot. Remove baking dish from oven to cooling rack; top with cheddar cheese. Return to oven and bake an additional 2–3 minutes or until cheddar cheese is melted.
  2. Meanwhile, slice tomato in half lengthwise; scrape out seeds. Dice tomato and thinly slice onions. Snip cilantro. Sprinkle olives, tomato, onions and cilantro over dip. Garnish with additional sour cream and serve with tortilla chips, if desired.
  3. Watch as your Southwest Hummus Black Bean Dip disappears into your friend's bellies.



With two other flavor choices in Bush's Hummus Made Easy, the recipe and snacking possibilities are endless. Choose from Classic, Southwest Black Bean, or Roasted Red Pepper. Find it in the "bean" aisle.

How will YOU use Bush's Hummus Made Easy? I'd love to hear which recipe you'd recreate using one of these hummus flavors! Tell me in the comments.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

On Forgiveness

How many times have you been wronged? Your son lied to you. Your best friend went to lunch without you...and with another friend of hers. Your significant other cheated on you. Someone stole something from you. And you're still holding a grudge. You've been holding onto this for months. YEARS. What would it do to you to forgive that person?? What might it do to your heart? Do you think you could??

Watch this video...and then tell me what you're holding onto that you could forgive someone for. I bet you'll find that it's pretty forgivable, after all.

As a LEO [Law Enforcement Officer] wife, I am NOT looking to open a conversation about crooked cops. This post is about forgiveness. Please see it as ONLY that. [Truth be told, there are a LOT of GOOD police officers. Sadly, the media doesn't tell you about them very often.]

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Riceland Foods Rice Rummage Recipe -- the Perfect Summer Dish


Summer is coming. School will be out soon. Yep, there's less than a month of school left. Consider this a courtesy post, giving you a recipe that you'll be glad you made when the kids come running inside for an afternoon pick-me-up. Riceland Foods Rice Rummage recipe is chock full of fresh veggies, sweet apple, and a twist of sweet vinegar. It's DELICIOUS!

Hop on over to Riceland Foods to see more.