May 17, 2017

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip

Disclosure: Some of the links in this Crockpot Hot Wing Dip recipe post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase. 

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is an simple recipe with tons of flavor. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Do you have a recipe in your arsenal that you go to when you know you have a crowd to please? Is there one that everyone raves about and asks for time and time again? Are you known for a signature dish? Well, if you aren't then you can borrow mine because it's easy and amazing. It has spice and tang and crunch and heat. It reheats like a champ and it is perfect for game nights, a Father's Day surprise, a Memorial Day or Fourth of July picnic, or an office potluck. My Crockpot Hot Wing Dip will have you doing a happy dance for days and dreaming of an excuse to make it again. Also, it tastes amazing with a cold beer.

I normally double or even triple the recipe when I take the Crockpot Hot Wing Dip to parties and I have NEVER had leftovers in the 8+ years I've been making it.

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Roughly 6 cups of water
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder 
  • 4 oz block of cream cheese, cubed  
  • 4 oz. shredded Monterrey jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 bottle of your favorite hot wing sauce - I like Moore's Original Buffalo 
  • Tortilla chips for serving
Preparation Instructions: 

Place the uncooked chicken in a large pot with the chicken bouillon powder. Cover the chicken with water and bring to a boil. Continue to cook the chicken until it is completely cooked throughout, roughly 15 minutes on a slow simmer. Remove the chicken to the Crockpot and reserve two cups of the water in which it cooked.

Return the chicken to the pot or a large bowl and shred. I like to do this with a hand mixer but you can certainly just shred the chicken with two forks. Add the entire bottle of buffalo sauce and stir to incorporate. At this point, I normally like to put the chicken in the fridge overnight but it is not necessary.

Add all the cheeses to your Crockpot, top with the chicken and stir to incorporate. Let sit on low heat in the crockpot for one hour, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, take the two cups of reserved water and pour it into the bottle that held the sauce and shake. Pour about 1/4 cup of the reserved water into the crockpot and put the bottle with the remaining water in the refrigerator.

The Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is now ready to serve. Turn the heat on the Crockpot to the lowest possible setting. Stir the mixture occasionally throughout the party or event to prevent it from sticking to the sides and burning. The dip will thicken as it sits. If you notice that the mixture gets too thick, add a little of the reserved water and stir.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. I only use Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce to add flavor and spicy. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

The Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is perfect over top of tortilla chips or on a sandwich bun. I normally opt for chips since they are more family friendly and easier to serve at events.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. I only use Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce to add flavor and spicy. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Check out some of my other favorite recipes, including my crockpot turkey recipe, here. What recipe are you know for among family and friends?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 12, 2017

Give Mom the Gift of Relaxation

Disclosure: I was provided with free Spa services from Salon Greco in Suwanee, Georgia in exchange for an honest review of my experience.

Mother's Day is this Sunday, and if you have procrastinated on finding a gift for your mom, then you are now in a time crunch. Here is the good news, the gift most moms really want is still available, and I am going to tell you a secret to help you nail Mother's Day this year. You might just win the "favorite child of the year" award this year if you follow my advice.

The majority of moms love and embrace their role in the home, whether they are considered a traditional mom or whatever their version of mothering might look like. When they have a little one to care for it is a remarkable and cherished responsibility. But here is the big secret, the thing most moms want on Mother's Day is all the love that comes with being a mom, but with a body and energy level that reminds her of her pre-child days. Give your mom what she really wants this year, a heartfelt gift of relaxation and rejuvenation, which can easily be done with a gift certificate to her favorite spa, like Salon Greco The European Day Spa in Suwanee, Georgia.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Salon Greco a spa and salon located just north of Atlanta, Georgia is one of my personal favorites (read about my experience there). When I dream of a day of restoration and relaxation, it is the first place that comes to mind, and when I walk out the doors after a massage or facial, I feel like a new woman. No matter if you are a working mom, a fur moms, a woman pregnant and expecting her first child, or a stay-at-home mom, almost every mom would enjoy a facial, massage, manicure, pedicure, makeup application, or hair style in a beautiful, well-maintained, relaxing environment.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.


Salon Greco is making it even easier to pamper your Mom this year with their Mother's Day Soiree, beginning today, Friday, May 12, and lasting until Mother's Day on May 14. Send mom to the European-inspired spa so she can enjoy refreshments and treats, an enticing spring atmosphere, and a relaxing package for two that includes:
  • The Ultimate Massage/Shampoo Experience
  • Beautiful Hair Finishing & Style
  • Customized Beauty Secrets
  • Professional Makeup Application 
  • A Mother & Daughter Mini Photo Session with North South Photography
The entire package for two people is only $185. Add additional people for only $93/person and make it a little party honoring all the women you love and respect. Bring your sisters, grandmothers, aunts, godmother, pastor's wife, or any women deserving a little pampering. If the Soiree is not your mom's style, a gift card to Salon Greco allows her to customize an experience perfect for her ideal version of relaxation.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Hurry over to Salon Greco and get Mom the gift she really wants; one of rejuvenation, relaxation, and beauty. Tell them "Everyday Thoughts" sent you and you will get $20 off any spa treatment of your choice costing $50 or more.

Happy Mother's Day to all the awesome moms out there. What are you wishing for this Mother's Day?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 8, 2017

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell - Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links in this review of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novelare affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but this at no cost to you and all opinions are my own. 



It has been awhile since I posted a book review but after reading The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi I knew I had to share it with you guys. Even if you only read one book a year, this debut novel needs to go on your reading list. I consider myself very scrupulous with my book review ratings, and I would give this one at least 4.5/5 stars. In my adult life, I have only ever awarded 8 books with a five-star rating.

Nadia Hashimi did an eloquent job of interweaving the stories of two different Afgan women. The women are related but separated by generations, regardless of the generational differences many of the struggles they faced were similar. Rahima was a child bride, and Shekiba was a woman with a large, deforming scar on half of her face, the result of a childhood accident. Shekiba is Rahima's great-great-grandmother, and Rahima used the strength and wisdom she learned from Shekiba's stories to persevere through unimaginable adversity in her own young life.

This is a fictional story, but it is told in such a way that it could easily be true. The suppression and adversity that Afgan women are faced with then and now, are so different than the roles we have in Western society. This book is not easy to read but it is enlightening, and it will leave you on the edge of your seat. 
It is perfect if you are looking for a book club book that will generate meaningful discussion about very real issues women face in Afghanistan. More than that, however, it is a book highlighting the extreme cultural differences between women in the Western world versus those under the careful scrutiny of a male-dominated society in Afghanistan.


I was shocked to learn how slowly life and societal norms evolve in Afghanistan. The novel tells the story of two women separated by years and generations, but their stories could almost overlap regarding the oppression and censorship they faced. If you watch the news at all, you must be aware that women are being treated unfairly, stoned to death because they are victims of rape, left on the curb because of deformities, sold to the highest bidder for a cow. In Afghanistan, women are mere possessions, and in many cases, they have little to no purpose other than to bear children and tend to a house. They are passed along from one family to the next like an old pair of hand-me-down jeans; their opinions and voices of no consequence. This book gives those women a voice, it sheds light on the emotions, thoughts, and dreams that women have, even if they are tucked away inside their husband's or father's compound with no access to or knowledge of the outside world. 


After reading this novel, I'm looking forward to watching Hashimi's career evolve. Her ability to hook readers with riveting character development and intriguing plot points, culturally counterintuitive to my understanding of the world, leaves me wanting more. 


Now I am onto my next book At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider.  



Check out some of my other book reviews here:


What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading? 

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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April 23, 2017

Why I am Reevaluating My Skincare Routine

Disclosure: I was provided free Spa Services from Salon Greco in exchange for an honest review of my experience. 

I consider myself a skincare junkie. I have far too many tubes of eye creams, samples of moisturizers, face peels galore, and tons of the latest over-the-counter, quick-fix type solutions that promise to make me look like anything other than the extremely tired mom of two that I am. The problem is, these piles of products are the beginning and end of my skincare regime. I do not see a dermatologist, I never get facials, I just do not do any of the work to actually see my skin improve in look, texture, color, or firmness. Basically, I am doing the skincare equivalent of diligently eating a salad every day only to wash it down with a large Coke and a candy bar. I decided it was time to make some serious changes.

The enterance to the spa at Salon Greco in Suwannee, GA

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that I had the opportunity to visit the award winning, Salon Greco The European Day Spa in Suwannee, Georgia a couple weeks ago. There I was treated to a Greco Facial Treatment and a Swedish Massage. I kicked things off with the facial. After slipping on a robe and slippers, I relaxed with a glass of refreshing, fruit-infused water. Monica, my aesthetician, came by shortly after and we began talking about my skincare goals. It was like I had been struck by lightning - was I actually supposed to have goals for my skin? My goal in life is to get through the laundry, and that is already difficult enough, but I digress. I quickly realized I have been slathering on goop and gel and oil and lotion all with the intention of better-looking skin, but all with no real concept of what I wanted to improve upon from a skincare standpoint. After quick consideration, I knew I wanted to focus on my eye area, which at age 32 is already wrinkled and baggy. I also told Monica that I wanted to improve the tone and color of my skin since it tends to get red, especially on my cheeks and around my nose.

Monica escorted me to a private, comfortable room and after laying down, she began to examine my face and neck. She was quick to mention that my pores were very clogged and I needed to be more diligent with an exfoliator - using one at least three times a week. Since I do not typically treat myself to facials, I went with a standard facial - The Greco Facial. It is perfect for men and women who want relaxation, skin cleansing, and rejuvenation. However, she mentioned that Salon Greco recently started performing Hydra Facials, which provide a much deeper clean and are significantly less painful if you need extractions because they are done with a machine and not by hand. She noted that with the Hydra Facials you instantly notice an improvement in your skin's overall texture and firmness. She recommends clients get them in sets of three, to achieve the best results.

Salon Greco in Suwannee, Georgia offers Hydra Facials

That got me thinking, should I be getting a spa-facial more often? I always thought of spa treatments as luxury, quiet time and not necessarily an investment in my skin. Boy, was I wrong. Monica explained, how skin cells rejuvenate every 28 days and it is best to treat your skin to the purifying benefits of a facial every 4-6 weeks to avoid premature aging. Plus, as we age the time between cell rejuvenation extends, leading to a reduction in firmness and an increase in visible wrinkles.

One of the most interesting things Monica mentioned during my facial was that Salon Greco carries a line of luxury skincare products typically only found in five-star hotels. The line is named Babor and as Monica gently applied their masks, tinted moisturizer, eye cream, cleanser, and toner she explained each step of the process. The products went on easily and smelled fantastic. At the end of my facial, my skin glowed and was soft to the touch. Monica wrote me a "prescription" for future visits and suggestions for skincare products to help me achieve my newly-developed skincare goals. Of all the products she prescribed me, it was the Babor Enzyme Cleanser with a gentle exfoliating effect, which peaked my interest. You might assume that because I love to buy skincare products I also naturally read the labels, not true. I have been applying every variety of skincare treatment under the sun without any thought to their active ingredients, which was probably contributing to the redness in my skin.

Salon Greco in Suwannee, Georgia sells the high-end, skincare line Babor.

Some things I learned about skin care during my facial at Salon Greco:

  • Exfoliate at least three times each week
  • Facials should be a regular part of your skincare routine
  • Read the labels and know the ingredients in the products you use and apply
  • When applying eye cream always use your ring finger
  • Give all skin care products at least 28 days to truly take effect

I was impressed by my entire experience at Salon Greco, and I am looking forward to returning to try the Hydra Facial. From now on, I will be making spa facial treatments a regular part of my skincare routine. The massage that followed the facial was the perfect culmination for a relaxing spa day. The gentle music and my massage therapist's skillful hands had me in a blissful utopia of relaxation and quiet.

 After my Facial at Salon Greco, my skin was glowing and felt instantly softer to the touch.
After my Facial at Salon Greco, my skin was glowing and felt instantly softer to the touch.

If you are in the Atlanta area make sure you book an appointment today to visit Salon Greco. Mention "Everyday Thoughts" and you get $20 off a service of your choice! They offer a complete list of spa and salon services for the ultimate in pampering, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I think you will agree that the staff is friendly, well mannered, and expertly trained in their respective crafts. The salon and spa are clean and efficient with high-quality products, a quiet and relaxing ambiance, and cutting-edge technology to ensure the best possible experience for all their guests.

Now that I'll be returning to Salon Greco regularly, I need some advice, what are some of your favorite spa treatments and how often do you get them done?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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April 6, 2017

An Unlikely Friendship

We walked into our local grocery store one evening, and my ultra-observant son noticed that there were not any grocery baskets available. My son is one of those kids that can not let things go, so while I pushed him and his brother up and down the aisles, scooping up cereal and bananas, he was busy counting the baskets in the produce section, the pharmacy, and the bakery. Soon the groceries were loaded into the cart, and we made our way to the checkout counter. While the friendly associates rang up our food, my son casually struck up a conversation with the gentleman who was in charge of neatly placing the bread above the eggs.

"There are no more baskets by the door," he said, "but there are lots back by the hotdogs." The older man looked up and kindly entertained my son, conversing with him like it is entirely reasonable to have a conversation with a three-year-old. "Oh really?" was his reply, "I've apparently been slipping up on my job, I need to get some more baskets." My son shrugged, "well there are some other baskets over there" he said pointing to those laying at the foot of the checkout counter. The gentleman smiled sweetly and thanked my son. My big boy beamed proudly and announced, loud enough for anyone within shouting distance to hear, "I'm a big helper mommy." I saw the gentleman smile to himself as we walked out the automatic doors.

Several days later we returned, and my son once again inspected the basket selection in each department. He approved of the baskets this time around and said so each time a green stack came into view. To his surprise and elation, the same man was working that day. My son, never short on compliments, walked right up to him, smiled, and said, "there are lots of baskets today. You are doing a great job." It was at that moment that something changed. The man just stopped what he was doing and assisted us to our car. He and my oldest son chatted the entire walk to the vehicle. My son asked the man for his name because he was still too young to read the name "Lawrence" displayed on the man's nameplate. After that encounter, the two quickly became friends. Each visit to the store would bring talk about baskets, and groceries, and little brothers. Given that the two have more than 60 between them in age, they seemed to connect on a level I never could have anticipated. Every time we went to the grocery store was like Christmas morning. My big boy would wiggle in his car seat and ask, "do you think Mr. Lawrence will be there? Do you think he will need a helper today?" The joyful anticipation he had to go to the grocery store was palpable.

Mr. Lawrence became a household name during playtime. When we set up our pretend grocery store, I noticed my son asked to be Mr. Lawrence. After arranging the Fisher Price cash register and his plastic vegetables, he would carefully place the basket in the front of his imaginary store and put on an apron to be just like his older friend. Even while he played, he was careful and deliberate when he bagged food, just like Mr. Lawrence showed him.

This playtime ritual began to happen quite often, so one day when we visited the store, I stood with Mr. Lawrence as he helped me load the groceries into my trunk. The kids were both strapped into their car seats, and I mentioned that he left such an impression on my son that he was now emulating him at home. I do not know if I saw a tear or not, it could have all been in my imagination, but I could tell that he was moved by my story. He smiled his kind smile and said that he loved my boys and that he was always so happy to see them when they came to the store. I knew he was not just saying that to provide excellent customer service because unbeknownst to Mr. Lawrence I had seen him at the store when I did not have my children. He did not notice me, but I could tell by his body language that he is tired. I imagine that he has lived a full life and has seen better days but when he sees my children his entire demeanor changes. His face is bright, his shoulders are high and stable, and his smile is contagious. He looks just as happy as my boy, and their conversation is never dull or without excitement.

My son and Mr. Lawrence have a special friendship that happens between the checkout counter and the putting the groceries into my trunk, but they love one another. I have the awesome benefit of watching their unique, friendship flourish. They do not seem to notice the generational age gap. I get to witness how much joy they bring to one another's life. Mr. Lawrence's kindness, gentleness, and attentiveness to my children are unwavering. He never fails to wave hello, share a smile, and allow my son to help him bag groceries and push carts. He is patient and friendly, and to us, so much more than just the man who works at Publix. Mr. Lawrence is a superhero at our house.

An Unlikely Friendship


Mr. Lawrence if you ever read this, thank you for being so kind to my family and my boys. Thank you for giving us such a good example of how we can all make room in our hearts to love others. Thank you for letting me stand back and observe the friendship you have developed with my son. It makes my heart so happy to see the richness you each bring to one another's life. You have helped to restore my faith in humanity, and I now hold onto the hope that there are beautiful people in this world. People, who love without exception and those who do not let age hinder a beautiful friendship. You see my son as he is; a strong, independent, self-assured youngster who has never met a stranger, and you let him into your heart. Thank you for keeping the baskets stacked up, our hearts full, and for never shying away from our shrieking excitement when we walk through the doors.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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March 23, 2017

Stuck Inside with Sick Kids

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post: Stuck Inside with Sick Kids, are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but this at no cost to you and all opinions are my own. 

It has been a long couple weeks. The boys and I were both hit pretty hard with the flu virus, and after more than ten days of pajamas, nonstop movie marathons, and grilled cheese sandwiches or wonton soup, we finally seem to be on the mend. I have the washing machine working overtime, sanitizing everything that was touched in the last month. The kids are begging to go outside and my husband, who has been incredibly supportive through this mutant virus, desperately deserves a home-cooked meal - but that might not happen until tomorrow.

A Guide for When You Are Stuck Inside with Sick Kids - Cuddles

We are starting to put the pieces of our normal life back together as we cough away the last bit of the flu and shed our PJs for what appear to be real clothes. While battling this bug I learned one thing - being sick as a kid is about as good as it gets. Minus the actual illness, the rest of it is magic: sleep all day, play Kindle, eat Vanilla wafers, and movie marathons galore. As a mom, it is anything but glamorous, but I did appreciate all the extra snuggles. Regardless, ten days of being cooped up inside can take a toll on anyone, but I've put together a little list of must-haves for when your little ones are sick that will help you and your them battle through it with as few hiccups as possible.

Amazon Fire Kids Edition
I know that doctors do not recommend screen time for little ones, but when sleep is not an option, the Amazon Fire Kids Edition is a lifesaver. It's also perfect for travel. It comes preloaded with kid-friendly and parent-approved content. The child-proof case is easy to clean and disinfect and nearly impossible for a child to break. Plus, at less than $100 a pop, they fit nicely in an Easter basket (wink wink).
Vanilla Wafers
My little guys had no appetite for days and only ate four crackers cumulatively throughout the day. That is until I handed them Vanilla wafers. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, and they finally ate something that put a smile on their little faces. The cookies are bland enough to settle their tiny tummies but sweet enough to keep them asking for more.

Chinese Delivery 
I feel sorry for the gentleman who delivered to us over the last couple weeks. I think he stopped by 3-4 times with bags of rice and wonton soup. I just hope he does not catch the bug, but man that soup was like super food for us. I'm so grateful we have the ability to make a call and have delicious Chinese food is delivered right to our door. If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably caught a peek at our Chinese delivery obsession.

A Guide for When You Are Stuck Inside with Sick Kids - Wonton Soup

Pedialyte
After several dry diapers, I knew that the boys needed to drink more to keep them hydrated. We stocked up on Pedialyte to help them add electrolytes to their system and give them something with a little flavor. I always forget that Pedialyte is only good for 24 hours once it is open, so I try to stock up on several when I'm at the store, that way I always have it in a pinch.

Cool Mist Humidifier
Stuffy noses, dry skin, and nasty coughs seem to be some of the side effects of this crazy flu virus. I've been a big believer in the Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier for years now, and I love that VapoPads leave the room with the comforting smell of Vaporub.

Audible
Mama needs a break too, and with the pounding headache I've been struggling with, I can hardly bring myself to read a book or computer screen. I accidently signed up for Audible a couple months ago and had a couple of credits stored up, so I decided to give it a try this week. I sat happily listening to Big Little Lies while my kids watch Thomas the Train and Trolls over and over again. I can get used to "reading" books this way. If you are interested in trying Audible now is the time because you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and get TWO free audio books.

A Guide for When You Are Stuck Inside with Sick Kids

I hope you all are staying healthy but if you find yourself trapped inside with little ones I'd love to know what you use to get you through the days trapped inside.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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