Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Tech Monitoring In Those Middle School Years

Monday, August 8th, 2016


This post is brought to you by CJ Affiliate’s VIP Content Service. Thank you to Norton by Symantec for sponsoring today’s post!

I have tried to live in an honest place as we have disclosed over the years our family’s struggles with filtering web content for our kids and creating a healthy balance of online and offline time. I admit, in these lazy days of summer, I have become a little less stiff with the rules. One thing that will not change though is the need to monitor what sites my kids are visiting. Today I want to talk a little bit about how we monitor tech time in the middle school years.

You see, this is a big transition year for us as parents because we have moved out of the elementary school years and are jumping into middle school. It’s the time where we are letting our oldest have a phone and where the kids are asking to build their own social media presence.

With a mom as a blogger and their father working as a web consultant, you would think we would be really cool about this stuff…but we aren’t.

I don’t feel bad about the overprotection at all though.

The things that they do on social media and the things they are viewing online can often do more harm than good. It can even follow them into adulthood as they are job seeking. I have big dreams for these two and I want to protect them as long as I can.

Although we have many procedures in place for their handheld devices, the content they have been viewing on the computers has been our biggest hurdle. My husband spends evening hours going through their web history and clicking to see what they have been up to. This requires many clicks to Minecraft music videos and hair tutorials.

Isn’t that how every dad wants to spend his time?

I’m pretty sure we would rather be drinking wine and binging on Netflix together.

Since we have been in the trenches with this for some time, I wanted to share with you things that we have been doing to try to do a better job with monitoring our middle school kids on the internet.

Call Family Meetings- Many family meetings have been called in our home as we do our best to monitor our kid’s technology time. Sometimes the kids want to call their own family meetings to revisit rules and sometimes we have to hold family meetings because rules have been broken.

As parents we are always striving to keep the communication lines open. Whenever we add new security measures or revisit the rules of technology in our home, we want to offer that kind of support and communication (even if they don’t always like the rules we are devising). Making them feel like active participants in the decision-making is really important to both of us.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help on Setting Time Guidelines- When we were struggling to establish the right guidelines for our children, our family consulted with a child psychologist to see what time limits would work best. His advice was one hour of tech time on school nights and two hours on weekends/vacations. We have done our best to adhere to these guidelines to create a good balance of tech time and real-life time together.

Tech Monitoring In Those Middle School Years from

Install Internet Monitoring Software to Keep Them Safe- Although we have felt in control of handheld devices, we have felt less in control of the sites they were visiting on our computer. Often the restrictions installed where inhibiting us from doing our own work so we needed a solution that could help keep them safe (and our computers- more on that soon!)

Norton Security Premium

Norton by Symantec sent us a Norton Security Standard membership offering a year protection on ten devices in our home. This version of Norton also includes their family-friendly features (which you can purchase a la carte. We have been using it for the last month and we are both pleasantly surprised at the filtering it can do for web content. This security system goes way beyond just time restriction.

Norton Web Supervision

Norton Security offers another level of web supervision, allowing your kids to explore the web safely by blocking content that you deem unsafe.   It also offers a lot more depth into their search history,  allowing you to see words and phrases your kids are searching. This can help you to see what they are interested in as well as keep on top of  the inappropriate stuff to block.  In fact, you can see it all at a glance. Check out that screenshot above to see the info that will now be right at your fingertips.

Norton Time Management

Want to monitor time usage? Norton can do that for you too!

Just as important as all of that though, once your service is activated, you also have location supervision to monitor your child’s location on your Android & iOS devices so you can see where your kid is (and if they are where they are saying they are going to be- ahem!).  Please note, this option is available only in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand & Japan. The iOS features are available just in the US.

The pricing on all that for the first year costs $49.99 and subsequent years are $99.99. They offer a variety of packages though for your needs including the Norton Security Deluxe (for 5 devices) and the Norton Security Standard (1 device)

Keep Your Computers Safe- Tragically, our computer died last month (R.I.P.) and its tragic death is because of the vulnerability of these computers as our kids played games and (unknowingly) loaded our computers up with malware. My husband had to buy a new computer and we are now relying on Norton to block all the malware.

This installation did not slow down our computers at all and it protects them from the daily Roblox malware attack.  It’s a welcome sight not to see my homepage screen changed or a bunch of random video pop-ups that I can never shut down now off our computer thanks to this security measure. For us, protecting our computers is important for our work and Norton can save us a lot of money to keep these computers functioning at their optimal performance.

To learn more about Norton by Symantec products, visit the Learning Center.

Model the Kind of Behavior You Want to See From Them- My husband & I have to be on our computers and devices a lot for work, our kids know that. This is how we pay our bills. The thing is, we can always do better. By doing a better job with this, we can teach them that social media does not need to be the center of our world. Having a clear work day schedule end time and getting the heck off the computer is now my priority.

These years? Precious. My people? They are precious too and far more precious than any social media interactions that I might be indulging in. I need to show them that and model that for them so they can do that for their own people someday!

Let’s chat! Do you have any tips for tech time monitoring? I’d love hear how you are doing this with your family!

This post is brought to you by CJ Affiliate’s VIP Content Service. Thank you to Norton by Symantec for sponsoring today’s post!

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Friday, August 5th, 2016

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

What’s one of the things I dread the most about the new school year?

The papers.


All the time.

Hey, wasn’t there a kitchen counter here at one point?

In honor of back to school, I wanted to create a place where all those papers, awards, and fun art projects can be displayed so we can all reclaim our counters. Today  I’m making a gorgeous giant fabric bulletin board for the perfect paper storage spot for you or your kiddos. If you haven’t made a diy fabric bulletin board before, you are going to love this simple tutorial that even your big kids can do (with a little help from mom on the stapling!).

Waverly Inspirations Fabric- Paris Print

When I saw this month’s fabric selections from Waverly Inspirations (found at Walmart!), I  kept getting this print out to gaze at it. I just knew there was no way I could not put this in some kind of display especially since my little girl has an obsession with Paris.

I mean, so obsessed she’s been working on teaching herself French this summer.

We really wanted to let this magical fabric be on display in her room.

(PS- She also said she is the beautiful girl in the print with a dress and I am the old lady on the bench.  Thank you, Em- insert crazy-eyed emoji!).

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

Supplies Needed to Make A Fabric Covered Bulletin Board

1- Frameless Bulletin Board (found this in the office supplies of the store!)

Upholstery Stapler

Upholstery Staples

Trim (I purchased 2- 3 yard packages to cover this board)

Your choice of matching Waverly Inspirations Fabric (measure the dimensions of your bulletin board to figure out yardage!)

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Mat

Hot Glue Gun & glue sticks

Optional (but fun!)- Waverly Paints, Fabric Button Kits, and scrap fabric

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

Directions for Making a Fabric Covered Bulletin Board

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

1. Make sure to press out any wrinkles in your fabric before beginning. Next, lay your fabric right-side out over the bulletin board, making sure to position the pattern so that it has nice straight lines.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

2. After you have centered the fabric, flip the bulletin board over and begin pulling one long side tight to staple it directly into the framing on the back of the board. The most important thing is HOLD TIGHT to create that beautifully smooth surface. Repeat this on the other long side and then fold in the tops, creating neatly folded corners (just as you would with wrapping a package, making sure you are holding tight on each side. Did I mention, hold tight?

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

3. You can now trim the excess fabric around the back of the frame. I lined my rotary mat right up to the edge and trimmed with the fabric rotary cutter. You could just just eyeball it and use a pair of scissors if you don’t have these two items in your craft supplies.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

4. Finish your piece with your choice of trim. I loved the waviness in this one to add a decorative edge. I lined up and glued the two long sides first and then finished by gluing the shorter sides over, creating an overlapped corner. Play around with this with your own favorite trims and ribbons- the possibilities on that are endless.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

5. Finish with your choice of cute decorations. My daughter had fun painting wooden thumbtacks to match the color scheme and if you haven’t used a button making kit before, it is a blast and such a fun way to use up any scraps of fabric (all the instructions are on the back of the packaging!). We glued these buttons on to the thumbtacks to create decorative tacks for our papers.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from

We hope you find this idea inspiring for getting organized for another school year! I loved my daughter’s so much, I made one for myself to keep all my work projects organized. This craft can be done in less than an hour (even with making your own fabric tacks!).

Happy crafting!

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Look For The Helpers (Miracles From Heaven)

Monday, July 18th, 2016


This post is sponsored by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

Mr. Rogers said it best when he said,“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

It is a quote that has stuck with me for a very long time although I had not realized how much we would need our helpers until we had to call upon them this year. This year’s diagnosis has been tough on our family, but we have gotten through it because of the people that have been our helpers in our lives. Being one who refuses to ask for help (even when I really need it), my friends took it upon themselves to assist our family in the most generous of ways…through a random acts of kindness that would show up on our doorstep.


I was in crippling pain and extremely depressed.  I have been angry at God and frustrated by my body’s new limitations. One of my girlfriends saw what was happening and organized my friends to do a doorstep delivery each day. One day I came out to a pretty candle from a favorite shop, a gift card to Amazon to buy a book, beautiful stationery, flowers and a meal, a basket of gluten-free treats, a pail of sunshine (with items all in yellow), wine tucked in our mailbox, and fun snacks to enjoy with my wine. Each day, my spirits felt lifted. I felt really and truly loved.


Not only did they make these gestures, but they kept me busy to help take my mind of the pain. I went for walks, I had friends to join me for yoga classes, coffee invitations, movie dates…It is amazing how much a social outing can pull one out of their slump. There was no time to fixate on my circumstances.

Luckily for me, these past two weeks have been magical thanks to a pill that we have finally found that is finally controlling my pain.

To me, that pill feels like a miracle.

My miracle pales in comparison to the incredible miracle featured in the movie, Miracles from Heaven though. The film, which was just released on DVD,  is based on the true story of the Beam family and their special little girl named Anna who is diagnosed with a very rare and incurable disease.  As if that family had not been through enough, Anna is involved in a terrible accident that should have killed her, but brought an unexpected miracle into their lives that helped to restore their faith.

My daughter & I had a movie day together to watch this one and it lead to a great discussion on our feelings about miracles and about turning away from God when you feel so angry. Although my situation has been mild in comparison, I still can acknowledge that there is anger when you don’t understand why God will let things like this happen.

What stood out to me more about this story though is that there were SO MANY helpers in that family’s life that got them through those difficult moments. Those helpers got their family through some of their most difficult moments from caring for their children to assisting with travel when they needed to be together to working Anna in with the top specialist to make sure she was cared for. Just like me, these helpers are what made many unbearable moments bearable and broke up that desperation that they were feeling.

Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner delivers a truly incredible performance as Anna’s mother. The emotion she is able to deliver is powerful, as is the mother’s determination to try to get the best care for her daughter. I don’t know how anyone could watch this and not be moved.


If you haven’t checked out the film yet, you can pick up a copy of the DVD at Walmart for a family movie night together. If it is anything like our experience watching it, I am sure your kids will have lots of questions and it will give you a chance to talk about this family’s miracle.

For more information about, Miracles from Heaven, visit the Official Website, give them a Like on Facebook, & follow them on Twitter!

This post is sponsored by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Making a fabric wreath has been on my crafting bucket list for a long time and I finally had the perfect excuse to execute it. I joined the Waverly Inspirations Network this month and am showcasing all the fun craft goodies you can find now at your local Walmart stores- YAY!

Each month I am challenged to make a project out of a surprise box of materials and the team gives me a theme to work with. This month’s theme was BEACH so I went with a nautical spin to show you how to make a fabric wreath and rope garland for your home.

Best of all, no sewing skills required!

Let’s get crafting.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

Supplies Needed To Make a Fabric Wreath

12″ or 20″ wire wreath frame

2 1/2 yards Waverly Inspirations Fabric (for 12″) or 3 yards Waverly Inspirations Fabric (for 20″). Be sure to select two or more patterns or solids that compliment each other. Have fun with this!

6 yards Waverly Inspirations Grosgrain or Satin Ribbon (select 2 3-yard packages in complementary colors)

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Cutting Mat

(Note- if making matching garland, be sure to pick up some rope (like this) over in the home improvement section of the store)

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

Directions for Making a Fabric Wreath

1. Taking your fabric lengthwise, cut at the 1″ mark on your rotary cutter.

2. From this starting point, begin tearing down until you get to the bottom of your fabric to create strips. There will be loose threads. Pull any that are particularly bothersome, but this project is meant to have rough edges to it.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

3. Begin cutting this torn fabric into 6″ strips. Repeat these same 3 steps over and over again with your two fabrics.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

4. The same length strips will need to be cut out of your two ribbon options so begin cutting those, utilizing all of the ribbon that you have purchased..

5. Starting from the outer edge of the wire wreath frame, begin tying the fabric, making sure to keep your printed side turned out, and then slide the tied fabric down to the nearest crossbar. Repeat until you have filled the section, alternating fabrics and sprinkling a tie of ribbon in throughout. In the picture above, you can see that ALL of these have a fabric loop- this is to demonstrate your starting point for each row.  Continue doing this until you get all the way around the outside edge. Then repeat this same process on the remaining 3 wires until you have filled your entire wreath.

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

I added a little pom-pom trim that I had in my crafting cart and clipped it with two tiny clothespins to finish this.  I had so much fun making this that I wanted to add a garland to match.

How to Make a Fabric Rope Garland from

Utilizing the same technique for ripping your fabrics, cut 2″ strips this time and then cut these into 8″ pieces. Repeat this step with both fabric selections (or more if you have them!). Tie them onto your rope, making sure to have that printed side facing out. I love that you can make this as long or as short as you need for your space!

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from

My little painted laminate fireplace, in our basement, gets so much love and I love decorating it for the different seasons. I finished our beachy look with two rope handled lanterns. I, honestly, loved making this so much that I now have plans to make another smaller one for my fancy little she shed in yellows and polka dots.

I hope this tutorial inspires you to get out there and craft today!

Making brings me so much joy and I love sharing that with you!


How to Make a Fabric Wreath And Garland from


This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 


Easy DIY Summer Time Capsule for Kids

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Make a memory for your kids (and you!) with this fun summer activity!

Make an easy summer time capsule- a great activity for the whole family!

This year has flown by for our family and it’s hard to believe summer is so quickly upon us. Each year I’m more desperate to hang on to our summer and our memories together. My kids are hitting the teen stages and I treasure each moment with them so much more as they get older than I had ever imagined.

I want to share with you a fun summer time capsule ornament that your children can hang on the holiday tree or can be the launching point of a fun family mealtime together this summer. Have you ever had your kids create a time capsule? I am telling you, it is so much fun and gives you a glimpse, as a parent, into what is important in their lives.

How to Make A Summer Time Capsule


Supplies Needed


1. Tell your child at the beginning of the summer to begin gathering small items that represent their fun-filled summer! To get them brainstorming, consider gathering a representation of their favorite crafts, board games, building activities (puzzles or building blocks), beach finds (pretty sand or shells), or items found on nature walks. Tell them you want this capsule to really showcase what they were passionate about that summer so they can create a really important collection for their capsule.


2. Have your child jot down 5 things that they love about summer. Guide them with a gentle writing prompt to explain why they have included these items in their capsule to represent them.

For example, “I love seeing my mom cry when I take all of her money in Monopoly.” Of course, that would be YOUR child, not MY child (*ahem*).

Don’t forget to have them include the date somewhere on this sheet so you can keep track of the years!

3. Fill an ornament with their trinkets and the facts about their summer. Snap shut at the seams. If you are concerned about longtime storage, you can secure with a little hot glue along the seams.

4. Use permanent marker to write your child’s name and the date somewhere on the ornament.


In our family, we are all about board games, building blocks, finding seashells at the beach, and my daughter has developed a strong love for finger knitting this year. I love this representation of who she is at nine!

Don’t let the time capsule fun end at summer. We incorporated this same time capsule idea in our NYE celebrating as a family, but selected a few things that represented our favorite moments of the year. Over a celebration dinner, we each twisted open our capsules to share our favorite moments together. I remember that night well because I learned so much about my kids and some of the things they included surprised me. I guarantee you will learn a lot during the big time capsule reveal and make some beautiful memories.

For a summer capsule, this same idea would be fun for a family s’more night or as a fun ending to a sundae party together. Celebrate the end of summer in a new way and remember to get your kids thinking now because beautiful collections that represent them take time!

I hope you enjoy this fun craft together and please be sure to let us know if this becomes a part of your own family traditions as it has become such an integral part of ours!

Easy DIY Summer Time Capsule for Kids from

*this post contains affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though!


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How to Make Bubble Snakes

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

How to Make Bubble Snakes from

These Indiana girls couldn’t be happier that summer is around the corner and today we wanted to show you how to make bubble snakes with our homemade diy bubble recipe. If you haven’t tried our bubble recipe, you are in for the best bubbles ever this year. This fun activity is brought to you in partnership with Tum-E Yummies today.

Have you made your own bubbles or a bubble snake before? If you haven’t, you are going to be amazed at the difference in this solution versus what you buy at the store and the staying power of your bubble snake. Not only are making bubbles and bubble snakes fun, but they are also a lesson in science.

According to Steve Spangler Science, “Bubbles form because of the surface tension of water. Hydrogen atoms in one water molecule are attracted to oxygen atoms in other water molecules. They like each other so much, they cling together. When you blow air through your Bubble Snake maker, you are creating hundreds of tiny bubbles. As the air wiggles through the fabric, bubbles are continuously being made. The bubbles attach to each other when they come out of the fabric. It’s all thanks to the same hydrogen bonds that make bubbles possible!”

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really understand the science behind bubble making. I love a bit of science with our crafts. Let’s get mixing!

How to Make Bubble Snakes

How to Make Bubble Snakes from

Supplies Needed

Dishwashing liquid soap

Glycerin (we found this behind the pharmacist’s counter at our local superstore. Can also sometimes be found in the first aid supplies section)

Pitcher (we love the kind with a plunger to mix the bubbles)

Liquid Food Coloring

1 plastic bottle

Box Cutter

An old sock or a washcloth (secured with a rubberband) Bubble tray or a disposable plate or bowl

DIY Bubbles Recipe from

1. Mix up your homemade bubble solution in your pitcher (recipe below). We halved our recipe to fit in this two quart pitcher, but you can definitely mix up a full gallon too. Set aside.

How to Make Bubble Snakes from

2. Today, we are using a Tum-E Yummies container for the base of the craft, so let your kids drink their favorite flavor to get the container ready to be used! If your kids haven’t tried these, they are fruit flavored waters that come in five flavors (Very Berry Blue, Greentastic Apple, Fruitabulous Punch, Orange-arific, and Sour-sational Raspberry). Each of these have 100% daily value vitamin C, B6, B12 and only 50 calories and 13g of sugar. You can be assured, you will need all those vitamins for the bubble blowing that will be happening once we are done creating this craft!

3. Take a box cutter and carefully remove the bottom of the container. Once this is removed, secure a sock or a washcloth (secured with a rubber band) over the newly opened end.

4. Take your liquid food coloring and create a stripe of each color (red, yellow, green, and blue) across the bottom of the sock or washcloth. The more you add to the bottom, the more vibrant the colors.

5. Dip the rainbow end into the bubble solution. Be sure to get a good soak of bubbles on it to create your snake.

6. Blow on the other end of the container to blow out that colorful bubble snake. Be sure to stress to your kids to not suck in their breath (who wants to swallow bubbles? yuck!).

How to Make Bubble Snakes from How to Make Bubble Snakes from


How fun is that? I guarantee amazing bubble snakes with our diy recipe! While you are at it, be sure to purchase some big wands for this fun project. You really won’t believe how big these bubbles are or how long they hold their shape before popping.

How to Make Bubble Snakes from

A huge thank you to Tum-E Yummies for partnering with me to create this fun summer activity idea. You can find these flavored waters in many convenience stores, grocery stores, and drugstores. My kids really did love this fun twist on water and I know they will make a fun addition to our pool bags this summer after a long day of swimming!

DIY Bubble Recipe
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Keep these items on hand to make bubbles all summer long. You won't believe the size or the staying power of this amazing solution.
  • 1 gallon water
  • ⅔ cup dishwashing soap
  • 2-3 tbsp. glycerin
  1. Mix all these ingredients in a container. DONE!

For more fun family ideas, follow Tum-E Yummies on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

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Take The Beans and Rice Challenge

Monday, June 6th, 2016


All proceeds earned were donated back to feed those in need!

As a mom, I really and truly want my children to have an awareness of our world. It’s easy to get caught in our suburban bubble, oblivious of those in need. Not only do I want there to be awareness in them, but I want to see a genuine passion for giving to others. We know that we have a really blessed life and it is because of those blessings that we have the opportunities to pay it forward to others.

Let’s be honest though. I say that my kids need awareness, but I know that I can be as oblivious as them to those in need and their daily struggles.

Here is one example that I am not proud of (and believe me, there are many!).  I always have had a terrible attitude about grocery shopping and menu planning for our family. It often feels like so much work to feed my people- the planning, the shopping, the bagging, the putting away of the food, the preparation of it, the clean-up… that drudgery can really get to me and I am a miserable person to be around on grocery days.

Yet, I can feed my people.

Sometimes I don’t even have enough room in my fridge and I have to create a teetering game of Tetris in my giant refrigerator.

I complain about this and I was complaining about it often.

My attitude shifted though when we went to make a holiday delivery to a family in need and I peeked in the kitchen at the open shelving with just a few cans and boxes of food sitting on the shelves.

In the fridge?

Not even a gallon of milk.

When I asked the mother if we could help get her groceries she said, “Oh, no! We have more than enough food. We have so much right now,” as she gazed at her “full” shelves.

I humbly went back to my car and realized that her SO MUCH looked like SO LITTLE to me. Even on the days nearing our grocery day there still was an overabundance compared to this woman’s.

How do we create awareness though when we feel so far removed from the world’s struggles? How do we as parents make these into teachable moments for our children?

Beans & Rice Challenge

The Beans and Rice Challenge

I am so excited to share with you that I have partnered with Feeding The Nations as they embark on a unique challenge that gives your family the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, while helping feed those in need. This is just the kind of challenge and life lesson that I hope to pass on to my kids.  

On June 13-17, just for 5 short days, commit to eating a dish of just beans and rice for at least one meal and donate the savings to those in need.  How cool is that? A small sacrifice that can do so much for others!

I don’t know how much an average meal costs in your house, but I would say that it is safe to say that a typical dinner for our family costs $10-12 at home. If we substituted one of these meals for five days, we could give at least $50 to Feeding The Nations to feed those in need.

Does $50 really make that big of an impact when there are so many in need in this world? You bet it does! For just $2, Feeding The Nations is able to supply 40 people with food! That means, a simple meal switch, given my example of spending, could yield food for 1,000 people. Our family’s small sacrifice could help so many AND offers a teachable moment for my children. Kids feeding kids- it’s such a beautiful thing.


I’d love for you to take this challenge with our family!  Are you in? Please let me know! We would love for you to join our virtual dinner table to help the hungry.

Here are a few helpful resources I’ve gathered for you to prepare for this challenge on June 13-17:

The Beans and Rice Challenge

10 Reasons Why Your Family Should Make This Commitment

Beans & Rice FAQ Page (great info!!)

Feeding The Nations Pinterest  Board-  This can help you find recipes for your five-day challenge.

Get your own Beans & Rice Shirt- Donate $25 or more to receive a shirt. Choose the “B&R T-shirt” option and be sure to note your size (S, M, L, XL, XXL).

Donate to Feeding The Nations – Remember, $2 provides 40 meals!


MomAdvice Recipe Inspiration:

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

Perfectly Baked Brown Rice

How to Make Perfect Brown Rice in Your Slow Cooker

Be sure to stay up-to-date with Feeding The Nations and learn about upcoming giveaways on their Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also sign-up for their email list to receive updates, recipes and encouragements along the way. And, be sure to donate when the challenge is over at I can’t wait to hear about your challenge!

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Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining ($100 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway!!)

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

Those summer nights…tell me more, tell me more.

Is it stuck in your head now too?

I think evening gatherings are the most fun to host and our patio always gets a workout in the summer months with friends and family gathering around our picnic table for meals, wine, and board games.

Also, a big shout out to night skies for hiding our not-so-awesome lawn.

Keeping it real here, friends! We can’t be good at everything!

Today I am partnering up with the BHG Live Better Network to show you some fun additions for your outdoor space AND I’m giving away a $100 gift card to Walmart to get you started on your shopping.

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Bring on the Twinkle Lights

To me, one of the most beautiful sights in the evenings are strands of twinkle lights. They are a super affordable way to dress up your patio without spending a lot of money.  Not only are they beautiful, but they help extend those evening hours outside to play games or enjoy a meal together. You can see how we rigged our lights over our patio in this post.

Patio lights have a tendency to get shattered on our cement patio so I was REALLY excited about these vintage cage lantern lights because the cage helps protect that little bulb inside. That should really help prolong those lights!

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Bring Inside Elements Out to Keep Guests Comfy

I never look at things inside our house and think that they can only be used indoors. You will often find me dragging out dining chairs, piling up our throw pillows up, and heaving side tables out onto the patio.

I love  to create warmth and comfort for our guests, but I’m not a millionaire.

Smaller homes require you to really consider what can function in multiple ways for your home and it helps cut down on out of season storage. That’s why I rely on the items in my home to create a comfy space outside too.

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Here are three pillow options that go inside AND outside in our home (option 1, option 2, option 3- all under $12!!) when entertaining.

I don’t know about you, but there can never be too many throw pillows- am I right?

To add a touch of spring to my home, I pulled in the coral color to mix in with my blues. All of these pillows happen to transition really well with our gorgeous outdoor rug on our patio and match our stained picnic table outdoors too.

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Tips & Tricks for Evening Entertaining from

Warm Your Guests (S’mores NOT Optional)

Having a place for a fire has been lovely and may have contributed to summer weight gain (ahem!)  I can never resist the opportunity for a s’more though. Have you seen my S’More Toppings Bar I created?

Clearly, I have an addiction.

We love to get our fire pit going and nothing completes the evening like a bit of warmth and a  killer playlist on Spotify.

I’m talking about you, Adele.

I hope these ideas inspire you and I wanted to share a giveaway so you can create your own perfect evening outdoors with a few of your favorite people. Check out the widget below for directions to enter our $100 Walmart Gift Card giveaway! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

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Mini Star Cakes (Star Darlings Book Giveaway!!)

Monday, May 16th, 2016

3-ingredient mini star cakes from

This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

I am raising a big fan of the Star Darlings series and we are so excited to giveaway an amazing prize pack today for a tween girl in your life. Today’s craft is to show you how to make a mini star cakes that you can prepare out of just 3 items from the grocery store. These cakes are easy enough that your kid can put these together and impressive enough to share with your friends.

Emily’s fangirl status of the Star Darlings series is truly legit because the #1 gift she wants to share with her friends are these books. They also are the books she has been taking to school each day to read during her reading free time. Is it just me or do you struggle with finding tween books that you can really get behind? These books are positive and minus the sass. I am all about girl power and positivity so I am thrilled that these have been such a hit in our house. I am also so happy she is sharing the same message with her friends.

As you may recall, we shared a really fun dreamcatcher we made together in honor of the first six books! Today we are sharing an easy craft your daughter can do together after she has read the books. Did you know that books 6-9 are out on store shelves now? Yay!

Star Darlings Book Series

Not only have the next four books hit the shelves, but they also released  Star Darlings Collection Volume #1 which is a brand new bind up book that includes the first three books in the Star Darlings series. You can learn lots more about the Star Darlings series on their webpage. They have also expanded their line to include a doll series and even an app to continue the positive messaging for tween girls.  Cassie Comes Through, Piper’s Perfect Dream, Astra’s Mixed Up Mission, & Tessa’s Lost & Found are the new books keeping my daugher up late at night reading.

In honor of these sweet books, Emily & I have created an easy 3-ingredient star cake.

3-ingredient mini star cakes from


Supplies Needed

1 frozen prepared pound cake

2 tubs of frosting (you should only need one, but we offer the advice of two for heavy pourers- wink, wink!)

Food Coloring

Sprinkles (optional)

Star Cookie Cutter

3-ingredient mini star cakes from

Directions for Mini Star Cakes

1. Allow your pound cake to thaw for a few minutes and then, using a serrated knife, trim the top to level the cake. Slice the cake in half lengthwise. (I did this for my daughter, but she was able to do the rest on her own).

2. Using a cookie cutter, carefully cut out your star shapes and place them on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the frosting avalanche.

3. Divide your icing into two microwave safe bowls and tint to your desired colors. Place the frosting in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stir the frosting and then place back in the microwave for another 10 seconds (or until the icing looks pourable).

4. Pour icing over the stars and finish with sprinkles. Allow these to harden and then eat your masterpiece.



3-ingredient mini star cakes from

3-ingredient mini star cakes from

Star Darlings Giveaway

Check Out This Giveaway!

One (1) winner will receive:

Star Darlings Collection Volume 1 (includes Books #1-3)

Star Darlings Books #4-9

Star Darlings Wish Board;

Plus a set of five (5) Star Darlings 10.5” dolls!

Follow the widget below to enter to win! Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3-ingredient mini star cakes from

This post is sponsored by Disney Press. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

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Celebrate National OJ Day (Funny Faces Printable)

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Celebrate National OJ Day (Funny Faces Printable) from

I am so excited to be partnering this year with the Florida Department of Citrus to celebrate National OJ Day today.  In celebration of this fun day, I wanted to create an interactive way you can enjoy a glass of FLOJ and craft up a cute funny faces cup with your kids.

Celebrate National OJ Day (Funny Faces Printable) from

Did you know that one glass of Florida Orange Juice provides a total of 5 amazing nutrients in every glass? In just one glass you have Taste, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium and No Added Sugar!

More importantly for me, as a busy mom always striving to get our fruits and veggies into our diet, it’s good to know that a single 8-ounce glass of 100% orange juice counts as one of your daily recommended servings of fruit.

We wanted to celebrate National OJ Day in an interactive way so we have loads of cute printables for you to decorate your own Florida Orange Juice cup. A serving of fruit AND a fun way to keep kids busy? #winning

Celebrate National OJ Day (Funny Faces Printable) from

Supplies Needed:

Free Funny Faces Printable (DOWNLOAD HERE!!)


Glue Stick

Clear plastic cups

Florida Orange Juice


  1. Print out our funny faces printable and have your child cut out the different mouths, shapes, noses, & Captain Citrus action graphics to decorate their cup. This is a fantastic way for your child to practice cutting.
  2. Have your child flip each piece over and cover it in glue using their glue stick.
  3. Finish by applying the pieces to the clear cups. Don’t forget to fill your glass with Florida Orange Juice

Celebrate National OJ Day (Funny Faces Printable) from

Celebrate National OJ Day (Funny Faces Printable) from

Celebrate National OJ Day (Funny Faces Printable) from

How fun is this? We hope that this post inspires you to celebrate today with your family. If that wasn’t fun enough today we are giving away a Florida Department of Citrus kit to one lucky reader. Follow the instructions in the widget below to enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This blog was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

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