tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-618362578258402212018-12-13T05:05:20.611-05:00Everyday Thoughtsa simple collection of complex thoughts - a lifestyle blog Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.comBlogger394125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-55921457759747304652018-11-11T08:46:00.001-05:002018-11-11T08:46:38.598-05:00Integrating Finances into a Second Marriage<i style="font-family: times; text-align: center;">This is a sponsored post for which I have received money in exchange for placement.&nbsp;</i><br /><i style="font-family: times; text-align: center;"><br /></i><div style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-d76f8f77-7fff-103d-bf0d-791646c200da"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 12pt; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><img height="384" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/z7J9--nyqHv06KPICnWWZTM8g9KrDZym05kNr0zc2D5Qb5AtSIx4Gen18Fw-TjX_84vKw9MdNX6C9_nSbWYWQZqCrRT7xLxejQRTVfIHH77HJJdMWaW3YJ3CHvCgKBibhMAOwRA" style="border: none; transform: rotate(0rad);" width="576" /></span></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 12pt; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">As difficult as it can be to get yourself on a solid financial footing in a first marriage, a marriage can be even more financially complicated the second time around. According to smartmoney.com, money is one of the leading causes of divorce and overcoming the obstacles can be challenging. A person entering into a second marriage may have a more complicated financial situation: pre-existing debt, established spending or budgeting habits, and possibly financial obligations to their ex-spouse and/or children. For these reasons, it is crucial to take steps to help secure your financial future before you say, “I do” to your new spouse. Consider employing the strategies listed below to help ease your financial transition into a second marriage.</span></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b id="docs-internal-guid-5338d1e6-7fff-637e-1b77-4b253fa565eb" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Be clear about your financial plans and goals.</span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your financial situation. Maybe you didn’t have many assets at the time of your first marriage, but chances are you now have a house, retirement savings, and investment earnings. You should approach this union with an attitude of full disclosure – of your assets as well as your debt. You and your spouse should be knowledgeable of the others’ salary, debts, financial obligations, loans, savings, and credit status. You’ll also want to be aware of your future mate’s spending habits and savings goals. Some small conversations with your spouse before the wedding can lead to a significantly healthier financial picture for your future years together.</span></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Set yourself up to succeed. </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">An element of financial freedom is important in any marriage but can be critical for people who may be used to some financial independence. For couples entering into a second marriage, especially if one or both people have spousal and/or child support payments, it may make sense to establish three different checking accounts: yours, mine, and ours. Each person contributes a set amount into the joint account to pay for common bills like the mortgage, utilities, etc. Individual expenses including child support, alimony, loan payments would come out of the separate accounts. Financial struggles are often more about power and insecurity than they are about money. Allowing each person financial freedom and control over his/her money may prove to minimize conflict and resentment within the marriage.</span></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">You also may want to investigate filing your taxes as “married, filing separately,” especially if one partner is still connected financially with a former spouse. Since filing as “married, filing separately” may increase your tax bill, be sure to consult with a tax professional to determine the most appropriate choice for your personal situation. </span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><img height="384" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/XINYgqFccGOnfo_IwEmmBMqCY3AFuWIP3b0hwJbw-aW7LdcQUrZzr0L0h1SgGYuQJNGZCH2oJ7aRDLm9cSF2id8MFwTq2LrVxYxdb09wVAXfGO47Fc5rtr-mvwpXZTJdSlHxQP8" style="border: none; transform: rotate(0rad);" width="576" /></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Get your papers in order before the wedding. </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Before you hire the band or interview the photographer, it is essential that you review your legal and estate plans. Discuss such things as beneficiaries, wills, life insurance policies, and </span><a href="https://bgawealth.com/financial-services/401k-rollover" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: blue; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">retirement accounts</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, make a checklist, and complete them as quickly as possible after the legal event has been completed. Consider discussing your wishes with your children. They may be more accepting of your new marriage if they know you have made provisions for how your prior assets will be distributed in the event of your death, and who will receive sentimental items like </span><a href="http://www.corporatecufflinks.com/" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: blue; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">dad’s favorite cufflinks</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><b id="docs-internal-guid-68af9233-7fff-ccdb-1c21-b0dbaa2e4ca7" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></b></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">What about a prenuptial agreement? </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The act of creating a prenuptial agreement forces a couple to engage in honest communication and conduct a thorough inventory of all assets and financial responsibilities. The greatest benefit of this type of document is that it can prevent arguments over debts, assets and financial contributions to the marriage. A well thought out agreement can save a significant amount of money and heartache in the future. Laws pertaining to prenuptial agreements vary from state to state, so contact a family law attorney in your area to develop a customized plan.</span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you need help integrating your finances with your future spouse, consider consulting a professional financial advisor. The Atlanta based Wealth Management Firm of </span><a href="http://bgawealth.com/index.php" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: blue; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Benedetti, Gucer &amp; Associates</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> can be a valuable asset in this regard. Their fee-based, fiduciary advisors have decades of experience preparing and implementing financial plans for their clients. A qualified advisor can ask the tough questions and help you </span><a href="https://bgawealth.com/financial-services/retirement-planning" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: blue; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration-skip-ink: none; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">develop a financial plan</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> that helps meets your goals for the future. The good news is that with careful planning and open communication, a couple can work through their money issues and financial disagreements. </span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-13ea7e1f-7fff-0630-cc30-f1eb58100eb0"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; vertical-align: baseline;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><img alt="photo.jpg" height="511" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/aj_pIDxs_tYcYbEDeOIBwoQokuy94fRe3f6C6axLCOj3xDtDPtaEAvGTj9Qi_9JfYACxesXjA5qAIwLDOUbO7f0z6QDRKDwuq2hbNHmCaTKgZbinM8swmmbmZI9o-IibpF_Gr-8" style="-webkit-transform: rotate(0.00rad); border: none; transform: rotate(0.00rad);" width="512" /></span></span></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-2edbaeb0-7fff-246e-b616-6567a5ef0992"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; vertical-align: baseline;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Source: bgawealth.com</span></span></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; vertical-align: baseline;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></span></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Disclosure:</span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">The views expressed represent the opinions of Benedetti, Gucer &amp; Associates and are subject to change. These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person.</span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: left;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><b id="docs-internal-guid-23adba85-7fff-4d41-577e-983be904419e" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></b></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Additional information, including management fees and expenses, is provided on Benedetti, Gucer &amp; Associates’ Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.</span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: left;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">The use of the term “RIA” does not imply a certain level of skill.</span></span></div><br class="Apple-interchange-newline" />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.2; 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margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: Arial; font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; white-space: pre;"><span><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-variant-east-asian: normal; font-variant-numeric: normal; vertical-align: baseline;"><br /></span></span></span></div>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-8049554885375152912018-07-16T09:47:00.000-04:002018-07-16T09:47:40.475-04:00My Prime Day Picks<div style="text-align: center;"><i>Disclosure: Most of the links in this "My Prime Day Picks" post are Amazon affiliate links, and as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn a percentage from qualifying purchases, but that comes at no cost to you.</i><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dIlx5sqZUmc/W0ycOfZZDVI/AAAAAAAAQws/1Mi0ZTY7BQI8J_XfNwcEh1MTgUdxkCbBwCLcBGAs/s1600/Amazon_Prime_Day_Picks.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dIlx5sqZUmc/W0ycOfZZDVI/AAAAAAAAQws/1Mi0ZTY7BQI8J_XfNwcEh1MTgUdxkCbBwCLcBGAs/s640/Amazon_Prime_Day_Picks.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br /></div><span style="text-align: center;">In the mists of the Nordstrom Sale madness, which is breaking the internet, it should be mentioned there is another fantastic day of sales: the annual Amazon Prime Day! Prime Day starts today, July 16 at 3:00 PM EST. For Prime members, there are TONS of excellent deals. So move that mouse and get ready to click your way toward savings.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="text-align: center;"><br /></span> <span style="text-align: center;">For the planners, think ahead to Christmas gifts. For the readers now's the time to grab a couple books or even try <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/dp/B00NB873RG/?ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1524210592918&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=c83d5844f84b04011e26f9a03a3d91d8">Audible</a>&nbsp;(audio books) or <a href="https://www.amazon.com/kuprimeday?ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1524210592960&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=821c39c78d60b9ebb8a8a7d628c752f1">Kindle Unlimited</a> at a reduced rate. For those with busy schedules, why not try <a href="https://www.amazon.com/fmc/offer?ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1524210592959&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=35ef1609e0f08f2a7c4cd3a943b596ab">Amazon Fresh</a>, a grocery-shopping service, with the FREE 30-day trial? And for the music lovers snag a new Amazon echo with the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/dmusic/promotions/AmazonMusicUnlimited?ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1483579440886&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=e05b290c0d454c6d2d62700473a2d537">Amazon Music Unlimited Subscription</a>&nbsp;Free Trial.</span><br /><span style="text-align: center;"><br /></span> <span style="text-align: center;">Before I jump into my Prime Day picks, there's still plenty of time to become a Prime Member and get in on all these great deals. Just sign up <a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?node=13887280011&amp;ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1524210592968&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=b67694b7c22ea6ffccf3b617b99f9ba4">here</a>.</span><br /><br /><div style="text-align: left;">Now let's get down to business.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">My #1 suggestion is for the readers. I read EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. before I go to bed. If I had to keep my bedside lamp on while reading each night, it would drive my husband crazy. So one of the secrets to my happy marriage is my <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OQVZDJM/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;creativeASIN=B00OQVZDJM&amp;linkId=4132c9944757660d8a844b6d4b8e42e9">Kindle Paper White</a>. It has a built-in adjustable light so I can read even when the lights are out. It's also perfect for reading outside (think trips to the pool or beach) because the backlight is subtle and it automatically adjusts to the ambient&nbsp;lighting in your surrounding environment.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OQVZDJM/ref=as_li_ss_il?ie=UTF8&amp;linkCode=li2&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=02edd0338b1b6b4879c841ae2b7900bb" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&amp;ASIN=B00OQVZDJM&amp;Format=_SL160_&amp;ID=AsinImage&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;WS=1&amp;tag=everythoug-20" /></a><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=everythoug-20&amp;l=li2&amp;o=1&amp;a=B00OQVZDJM" style="border: none !important; margin: 0px !important;" width="1" /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;">If you're looking for some book suggestions. Here are a couple, with my reviews:</div><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2018/01/before-we-were-yours-by-lisa-wingate.html">Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate</a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/11/nourished-by-lia-huber-book-review.html">Nourished by Lia Huber</a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/07/the-hiding-place-book-review.html">The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom</a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/05/the-pearl-that-broke-its-shell-book.html">The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi</a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/06/a-man-called-ove-book-review.html">A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman</a></div><br /></div>Along the same lines, both of my children have their own <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J90MSDS?ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1524210588345&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=0e9cffe55a047501cafaf1bba345b7ba">Kindle Fires</a>. I know, I know screen time, blah blah, blah. But hear me out, I need to think about my sanity on occasion and the only time they stop talking and moving is when they are playing their Kindles. Plus, they are PERFECT for traveling. We use the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I499BNA?ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1515018135680&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=362c66acc97318caa681158b76ccd340">FreeTime Unlimited App </a>which is all child-appropriate apps, books,&nbsp;and games. This helps me feel confident as a parent in the content and quality of the things they are watching and playing without feeling the need to stand over their shoulders watching each swipe they make.&nbsp; Hint, these would make an&nbsp;amazing birthday and Christmas presents.<br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J94SBEY/ref=as_li_ss_il?&amp;linkCode=li3&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=2d0aebba521397e3cdb2ff2892aa86d8" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&amp;ASIN=B01J94SBEY&amp;Format=_SL250_&amp;ID=AsinImage&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;WS=1&amp;tag=everythoug-20" /></a><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=everythoug-20&amp;l=li3&amp;o=1&amp;a=B01J94SBEY" style="border: none !important; margin: 0px !important;" width="1" /></div>&nbsp;So now you know one of my best-kept secrets to a good marriage and how I keep some of my sanity.<br /><br />Since we're already talking about kids, these magnetic <a href="https://amzn.to/2mkWnqa">Picazzo Tiles</a> are favorites at my house. Think Legos, but far less painful on your feet, which is a parenting win. The edges of each piece have magnets so kids can create three-dimensional structures. I have to admit even my husband and I have been known to sit on the floor and play with these without the kids around. They come in a box with a handle for safe storage and easy&nbsp;transport. In fact, we took them to the beach as a backup plan in case of rainy days.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AU56C5W/ref=as_li_ss_il?ie=UTF8&amp;psc=1&amp;linkCode=li3&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=44f7665cb6333ab626fa0c40ecf2fefb" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&amp;ASIN=B00AU56C5W&amp;Format=_SL250_&amp;ID=AsinImage&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;WS=1&amp;tag=everythoug-20" /></a><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=everythoug-20&amp;l=li3&amp;o=1&amp;a=B00AU56C5W" style="border: none !important; margin: 0px !important;" width="1" /></div><i style="text-align: center;"><br /></i>As a busy mom I hardly ever have time to do my hair. When I do I want to make sure I can keep the style as long as possible - and I mean as many days as possible. One trick to keeping my curls in tack overnight or my straight hair from looking like a hot mess in the morning, is I put my hair in a high ponytail each night with these <a href="https://amzn.to/2Nhjg9q">invisibobble Original Traceless Hair Rings</a>. They don't crease your hair so it always looks well-styled. At a price point of less than $10, these are a fun way to take advantage of Prime Day if you don't want to splurge.<br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CD73RNE/ref=as_li_ss_il?ie=UTF8&amp;psc=1&amp;linkCode=li3&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=43da97c4f8eadeb135adef2f73e4d6a6" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&amp;ASIN=B01CD73RNE&amp;Format=_SL250_&amp;ID=AsinImage&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;WS=1&amp;tag=everythoug-20" /></a><br /><div style="text-align: start;"><div style="text-align: left;">Okay, I hate to admit this, but my youngest is still in diapers. Please send potty training tips my way, because he is just not interested and he's almost 3! Anyway, Amazon Family saves us 20% on diaper subscriptions, and instead of hauling those huge boxes from the grocery store to my car and then into the house every couple days, I just have them delivered to my doorstep. If you are a new parent jump on this one fast because Amazon is offering a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/family/signup/welcome?ie=UTF8&amp;*Version*=1&amp;*entries*=0&amp;ref_=assoc_tag_ph_1457104784749&amp;_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;linkCode=pf4&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=4824b72f872b7ecb4bf5c41e7e478042">3<span id="goog_1128076070"></span>0-day free trial<span id="goog_1128076071"></span>&nbsp;of Amazon Family</a> for Prime Day and you won't regret the extra savings.</div></div></div><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Pampers-Swaddlers-Disposable-Diapers-SUPPLY/dp/B00ZV2DQ8K/ref=as_li_ss_il?s=baby-products&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1531746275&amp;sr=1-1-spons&amp;keywords=pampers+swaddlers+size+2&amp;th=1&amp;linkCode=li3&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=c6901af1782079fa071271dca5653855" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&amp;ASIN=B00ZV2DQ8K&amp;Format=_SL250_&amp;ID=AsinImage&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;WS=1&amp;tag=everythoug-20" /></a><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=everythoug-20&amp;l=li3&amp;o=1&amp;a=B00ZV2DQ8K" style="border: none !important; margin: 0px !important;" width="1" /></div><span style="text-align: center;">And finally, I mean this list really could go on forever, one of the items I'm hoping to snag today is the <a href="https://amzn.to/2uDQo39">Amazon Echo Dot</a>. Amazon is running an incredible Deal of the Day and it only costs $29.99. It is normally $49.99! Seriously this is the one you should grab and save for Christmas. It will fit perfectly into a stocking or be a wonderful kitchen companion as it plays Michael Buble Christmas songs while you bake cookies.&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Echo-Dot-Portable-Bluetooth-Speaker-with-Alexa-Black/dp/B01DFKC2SO/ref=as_li_ss_il?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_p=74a44144-49eb-43c7-955e-e025a3947ebe&amp;pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-5&amp;pf_rd_t=101&amp;pf_rd_i=13887280011&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_r=0TW696FT9Z97EBMJMJ6S&amp;linkCode=li3&amp;tag=everythoug-20&amp;linkId=f46f403cf4e529ff0eded38cdb16e71d" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&amp;ASIN=B01DFKC2SO&amp;Format=_SL250_&amp;ID=AsinImage&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;WS=1&amp;tag=everythoug-20" /></a><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="https://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=everythoug-20&amp;l=li3&amp;o=1&amp;a=B01DFKC2SO" style="border: none !important; margin: 0px !important;" width="1" /></div><div style="text-align: left;">What are some of your favorite Amazon items, subscriptions and deals you'll be shopping for today?</div><span style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</span><i style="text-align: center;"><br /></i> Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i style="text-align: start;">Disclosure: Some of the links in this "A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum" post are Amazon affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but that comes at no cost to you.</i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i style="text-align: start;"><br /></i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SM9zIOAAoRw/WwwHFKMIl-I/AAAAAAAAQmY/x_95qpRjcQI9J9GMrlg-8XcE2IclNrxsQCLcBGAs/s1600/Visit_To_Southeastern_Railway_Museum.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum" border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SM9zIOAAoRw/WwwHFKMIl-I/AAAAAAAAQmY/x_95qpRjcQI9J9GMrlg-8XcE2IclNrxsQCLcBGAs/s640/Visit_To_Southeastern_Railway_Museum.jpg" title="A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum" width="640" /></a></div><br />Summer has descended&nbsp;upon us, and its presence can mean only one thing: I need to start getting creative with our weekday adventures. Staying at home all week is just not an option if I want to keep our house in any sort of semi-clean, functional state or if I want to retain my sanity. My two boys are full of boundless energy and excursions help break up the monotony&nbsp;of the week, and they also offer a bit of reprieve&nbsp;for me because when we return and they (usually) sit quietly for a couple hours recovering from the excitement. Needless to say, I've made a list of places to visit, and we started checking them off one at a time.<br /><br />To kick summer off, we stayed close to home when we visited the acclaimed <a href="https://www.train-museum.org/">Southeastern Railway Museum</a>. Located in Duluth, Georgia it features old trains, taxis, buses, firetrucks, and cars. For two young boys infatuated with vehicles and transportation, it was nothing short of sheer bliss. This was our second visit to the museum. My youngest, however, has no memory of his first time there. His lack of recollection made it fun to explore everything with&nbsp;the excitement of fresh, youthful eyes. My oldest, on the other hand,&nbsp;had a mental checklist of exhibits he wanted to visit and things he wanted to do. On the top of his priority list was, of course, a train ride.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-u8zhgDGDxBI/WwwVrn61-lI/AAAAAAAAQm4/Cm4lUKIZ-ys0Z7-JHX7QkO8IKRic82nFACLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_3562.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Kid waving out the window of train at the Southeastern Railway Museum" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-u8zhgDGDxBI/WwwVrn61-lI/AAAAAAAAQm4/Cm4lUKIZ-ys0Z7-JHX7QkO8IKRic82nFACLcBGAs/s640/IMG_3562.jpg" title="A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA, is fun for the whole family." width="480" /></a></div><br />For a little context, the Southeastern Railway Museum doesn't look like much when you first pull up to its entrance. You'll pass a beautifully resorted depot with a miniature city and tracks, but the museum itself is housed in a big warehouse with old trains lined up outside, many under the protective covering of an oversized pavilion. Initially, you will approach a tiny, wooden structure for tickets. Ticket prices range depending on age. Adults are $10, and children ages 2-12 are $7. If you want to add on a short train ride on the large historic train, which I recommend, it's an additional $3 per person. Miniature train rides are another $3 per person, or you can ride each train one time for a discounted price of $5 per person.<br /><br /><b>Pro Tip:</b> If you want to save on ticket prices, you can visit the <a href="https://gwinnett.bibliocommons.com/item/show/113645128_hudgens_arts_center_free_admission_2017">Gwinnett Public Library</a> and check out a one week pass for free admission for a family of four. Please note, the free pass does not include train ride passes.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X0CBdXma-rA/WwwVqjZHgjI/AAAAAAAAQms/kM9P-7fjgEw3V7ycp5xk7fqqWzNUeq9QgCEwYBhgL/s1600/IMG_3516.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Smiling kid sitting on old bus pretending to turn steering wheel." border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="478" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X0CBdXma-rA/WwwVqjZHgjI/AAAAAAAAQms/kM9P-7fjgEw3V7ycp5xk7fqqWzNUeq9QgCEwYBhgL/s640/IMG_3516.jpg" title="A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA, is fun for the whole family." width="640" /></a></div><br />If you are planning a visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum you should know ahead of time there is quite a bit of walking and some climbing to get up and into the old trains. My two-year-old was able to do most of the climbing, but I did need to lift him up and down several times. If you are up for the physical challenge, then history awaits.<br /><br />You can walk through the stagnant corridors of old United States Postal Service delivery car, through passenger cabins which were used on cross-country transit rides in the 1920's and 30's, and kitchen cars where meals were prepared for passengers who developed an appetite on their long journies. You explore the museum at your own pace, so you can take time on the exhibits which interest you most, and quickly pass by others. Inside the museum, there are plenty of plaques with explanations about the exhibits, but when you walk through the vehicles outside you need to rely on a printed pamphlet for historical context.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ebbEni2nfNs/WwwVqlP22UI/AAAAAAAAQnI/aBr6BiXk4jsciDq8wLawXOaP-0LeQkgCQCEwYBhgL/s1600/IMG_3507.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Two kids standing on the backside of an old train" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ebbEni2nfNs/WwwVqlP22UI/AAAAAAAAQnI/aBr6BiXk4jsciDq8wLawXOaP-0LeQkgCQCEwYBhgL/s640/IMG_3507.jpg" title="A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA, is fun for the whole family." width="480" /></a></div><br /><br />The museum really offers a hands-on experience for visitors of all ages. You can get behind the wheel of an old bus, or sit in the seats of a sky-high double-decker train car to immerse yourself in the history. Also, there is a small movie theater where you can watch more about the origins of the trains and other vehicles.<br /><br />A couple things to note:<br /><ul><li>There is no air conditioning, and during the summer in Georgia, that can be a huge problem. Make sure to pack and plan accordingly, so you stay cool and plan to take water breaks throughout your visit. We used this <a href="https://amzn.to/2L4E8PQ">handheld fan</a> and <a href="https://amzn.to/2IUQIEG">cooling towel</a> to ensure we stayed extra cool.</li><li>Most of the museum is under the cover of trains. You walk from one train car to the next. However, it's not very conducive&nbsp;to rain-day adventuring unless getting dirty is part of the plan.</li><li>The museum would make an incredible backdrop for family pictures, engagement sessions, blogger fashion spreads, or still artistic&nbsp;photography.</li><li>There is a gift shop inside the museum with cold refreshments, snacks, and lots of train inspired paraphernalia. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</li></ul><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vZarJpj9_-c/WwwVq16Y_mI/AAAAAAAAQnQ/9or95GRuOf0CRkkVnIK6WbsPNJk-LWyDwCEwYBhgL/s1600/IMG_3512.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An old orange and cream bus at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA" border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vZarJpj9_-c/WwwVq16Y_mI/AAAAAAAAQnQ/9or95GRuOf0CRkkVnIK6WbsPNJk-LWyDwCEwYBhgL/s640/IMG_3512.jpg" title="A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA, is fun for the whole family." width="640" /></a></div><div><br /></div><div>Overall, my kids loved the museum, and we will undoubtedly return again sometime. Their favorite part of the experience was the historic train ride, and according to them the worst part of the experience was "leaving the museum." As a parent, I'd give it 3.5/5 stars, and I recommend it to any train or history enthusiast.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-q0YnpKaoatg/WwwC3KSUrPI/AAAAAAAAQl8/A0U-TXY_mAsnMxy5hMaP8CvppUvorusmQCLcBGAs/s1600/A_Visit_to_the_Southeastern_Railway_Museum.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Two kids giving thumbs up in front of sign at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA" border="0" data-original-height="1260" data-original-width="600" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-q0YnpKaoatg/WwwC3KSUrPI/AAAAAAAAQl8/A0U-TXY_mAsnMxy5hMaP8CvppUvorusmQCLcBGAs/s640/A_Visit_to_the_Southeastern_Railway_Museum.jpg" title="A Visit to the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA, is fun for the whole family." width="304" /></a></div><div><br />If you're looking for some other fun places to visit in Atlanta this summer, check out our review of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/03/a-visit-to-georgia-aquarium.html">the Georgia Aquarium</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/08/peach-fizz-and-jaemor-farms.html">Jaemor Farms</a>.<br /><br />What are some of your favorite kid-friendly, summertime destinations?&nbsp;</div><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-7085948016935814712018-05-18T07:05:00.000-04:002018-05-18T07:38:55.933-04:00Laundry Room Reno Reveal<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i>Disclosure: I received the Conair Steamer from Wikibuy&nbsp;in exchange for featuring it in this Laundry Room Reno Reveal. All opinions and ideas expressed on this blog are my own.&nbsp;</i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aX5Anwk4QE4/Wv3Cg214N2I/AAAAAAAAQiE/dlTUTFexj70tOHO5gEQDXjVG7TLWT_75wCLcBGAs/s1600/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_2.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Laundry Room Reno Reveal " border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aX5Anwk4QE4/Wv3Cg214N2I/AAAAAAAAQiE/dlTUTFexj70tOHO5gEQDXjVG7TLWT_75wCLcBGAs/s640/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_2.jpg" title="This navy blue laundry room renovation transformed a useless space into a functional mudroom with countertop space, white cabinets, and a extra sink. #laundryroom #homedesign #mudroom #renovation #interiordesign #renoreveal" width="640" /></a></div><br />Have you ever had a project which seemed to last forever, or at least much longer than it should? Well, that's how I feel about our recent laundry room renovation. For years I've been dreaming and planning and choosing each little detail, to create a functional space for the entire family. I had a vision of myself in a beautiful, open area with Frank Sinatra's voice floating through the air while I joyfully folded load after load of laundry. And while I don't fold with unrequited joy, I am proud to say the space where I do my folding, and my frame of mind regarding laundry has changed.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m2LUeTJ2QfY/Wv4865uKsnI/AAAAAAAAQi0/3XrGEnMGNFwzynuwseyMjkb-VlFYdcrawCLcBGAs/s1600/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_Before_After.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Laundry Room Reno Reveal" border="0" data-original-height="742" data-original-width="1600" height="296" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m2LUeTJ2QfY/Wv4865uKsnI/AAAAAAAAQi0/3XrGEnMGNFwzynuwseyMjkb-VlFYdcrawCLcBGAs/s640/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_Before_After.jpg" title="A laundry room transformed from a useless space into a functional mudroom with brown granite countertops, white cabinets, front load washer and dryers, brown tile flooring, and an extra sink. #laundryroom #homedesign #mudroom #renovation #interiordesign #washeranddryer #renoreveal" width="640" /></a></div><br />When we moved into our home, some six years ago, the laundry room, or maybe more appropriately called, the mudroom, was a small but separate&nbsp;space linking our garage to the kitchen. A set of cabinets seemed to aimlessly float on one wall opposite a window, while the washer and dryer sat unassumingly on a worn linoleum&nbsp;floor. The space was screaming for a makeover.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yO0sLHOKbWs/Wv3CgmDy7OI/AAAAAAAAQh8/JsYhuUrrpR4hF56FktNSzjIuq5haAVeewCLcBGAs/s1600/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_1.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Laundry Room Reno Reveal " border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yO0sLHOKbWs/Wv3CgmDy7OI/AAAAAAAAQh8/JsYhuUrrpR4hF56FktNSzjIuq5haAVeewCLcBGAs/s640/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_1.jpg" title="A renovated laundry room with a farmhouse feel, features brown granite countertops, white cabinets, stainless steel front load washer and dryers, brown tile flooring, and an extra sink. #laundryroom #homedesign #mudroom #renovation #interiordesign #washeranddryer #renoreveal" width="480" /></a></div><br />After days worth of research, meetings with contractors, <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/evrydythoughts/laundry-room-inspiration/">Pinterest&nbsp;boards</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2013/11/laundry-room-redesign.html">blog posts</a> full of inspiration, and discussions with family and friends, I came up with a wish list.<br /><br /><ul><li>More, efficient cabinet space&nbsp;</li><li>The addition of a sink&nbsp;</li><li>A large, flat countertop&nbsp;</li><li>Tile flooring</li></ul><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/--dFszPWoCEo/Wv5CSFj8RXI/AAAAAAAAQjw/_RYh8Nm8mfw7NfRmYNeoclopAdQKWgUJgCLcBGAs/s1600/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_Details.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Laundry Room Reno Reveal" border="0" data-original-height="800" data-original-width="1600" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/--dFszPWoCEo/Wv5CSFj8RXI/AAAAAAAAQjw/_RYh8Nm8mfw7NfRmYNeoclopAdQKWgUJgCLcBGAs/s640/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_Details.jpg" title="A look at the details in this navy blue laundry room transformation - brown and black granite countertops, white cabinets, front load washer and dryers, brown tile flooring, a conair steamer, and an extra sink. #laundryroom #homedesign #mudroom #renovation #interiordesign #washeranddryer #renoreveal" width="640" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I'm thrilled with the final results. The colors play well with one another without competing&nbsp;for attention, and the room is a separate&nbsp;space but a great compliment to the look of our kitchen. The addition of the sink has already been infinitely&nbsp;beneficially since spring thunderstorms seem to produce soaking wet, muddy little boys. I also appreciate the extra storage the cabinets offer, and the countertop space is a stable platform for crafting, laundry, or other shenanigans, like a birthday cake display. We've added new front loader Samsung washer and dryers, as well as a new <a href="https://wikibuy.com/s/all" rel="nofollow">Conair steamer</a> to make sure our clothes are in crisp condition for date nights or work meetings.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VFHlM89HGLA/Wv5B16Il0jI/AAAAAAAAQjQ/NtqhqnAzSeUYn5CrrSbGo9dHPm2QHR3HACLcBGAs/s1600/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_5.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Laundry Room Reno Reveal" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VFHlM89HGLA/Wv5B16Il0jI/AAAAAAAAQjQ/NtqhqnAzSeUYn5CrrSbGo9dHPm2QHR3HACLcBGAs/s640/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_5.jpg" title="A functional, navy blue mudroom is the perfect place to fold the next load of laundry. Brown granite countertops, white cabinets, Samsung front load washer and dryer, tan tile flooring, and an extra sink add to the overall design and functionality. #laundryroom #homedesign #mudroom #renovation #interiordesign #washeranddryer #renoreveal" width="480" /></a></div><br />But honestly, it's the details that I enjoy the most; the oversized mason jar which holds all the laundry detergent and the geographic hamper which provides us with an easy place to toss stray socks, dirty towels, or just rouge clutter which needs an extra rinse cycle.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1gHS5e0Yj0M/Wv3P21jyBAI/AAAAAAAAQio/1dVEKnWhIIsEX7tlCbQaxG46m1SCOu2SwCLcBGAs/s1600/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_Shop_the_Room.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Laundry Room Reno Reveal" border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1gHS5e0Yj0M/Wv3P21jyBAI/AAAAAAAAQio/1dVEKnWhIIsEX7tlCbQaxG46m1SCOu2SwCLcBGAs/s640/Laundry_Room_Reno_Reveal_Shop_the_Room.jpg" title="Shop the Room and get all the items pictured in this navy blue laundry room renovation reveal, from the hamper and conair clothing steamer to the laundry sign and oversized mason jar, perfect for holding detergent. " width="640" /></a></div><br />How do you like the final results? What are some of your favorite&nbsp;details? Now onto the next project, which I think will be our guest bedroom.<br /><br />If you're interested in checking out some of our other home renovation&nbsp;projects, you'll find the guest bathroom renovation <span id="goog_168733771"></span><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2013/07/yellow-and-grey.html">here</a><span id="goog_168733772"></span> and the nursery renovation <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2013/04/house-project-nursery.html">here</a>.<br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-82414657018980190142018-05-09T08:37:00.002-04:002018-05-09T08:37:37.434-04:00Why I'm Not Trying to be Successful Anymore<div style="text-align: center;"><i style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;Century Gothic&quot;, &quot;Open Sans Condensed&quot;, &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Disclosure: Some of the links in this post, Why I'm Not Trying to be Successful Anymore, 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.</span></i><br /><i style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;Century Gothic&quot;, &quot;Open Sans Condensed&quot;, &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></i><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jDaTfmR86Cw/WvLqWwo4CmI/AAAAAAAAQf0/2ojJjsbMO6UFS4T7r-J2f3v1OcCAAIJdACLcBGAs/s1600/Why_Im_Not_Trying_To_Be_Successful_Anymore.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Why I'm not trying to be successful anymore. A personal reflection on how I've reprioritized my life and set a new metric for happiness. #success #happiness #selfworth" border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jDaTfmR86Cw/WvLqWwo4CmI/AAAAAAAAQf0/2ojJjsbMO6UFS4T7r-J2f3v1OcCAAIJdACLcBGAs/s640/Why_Im_Not_Trying_To_Be_Successful_Anymore.jpg" title="Why I'm not trying to be successful anymore. A personal reflection on how I've reprioritized my life and set a new metric for happiness. #success #happiness #selfworth" width="640" /></a></div><br /></div>I remember visiting a friend at her parent's home while I was in college. They had a stunning house by any measure, and we often would gather there in large groups because there was plenty of room to comfortably accommodate a lot of people. The house itself was impeccably&nbsp;decorated and was large and impressive in scale. It was safely nestled behind secure gates, and it sat on a recognizable, world-class golf course. It was easy to see my friend's parents had been financially successful and their home was a reflection of a lifetime worth of hard work and sacrifice. I also need to say that in my experience, they were some of the most generous, kind-hearted, and down-to-earth people I'd ever met and their daughter, my friend, clearly reflected those same ideals in her own life.<br /><br />During my senior year in college, I spent quite a bit of time at their house, but there was one thing which always caught my eye. I associated that thing with success, and for years I remember thinking, "if only I had that particular item in my house someday, it would mean that I too would be considered successful." You might be surprised and curious to know what the thing was. It was small, and for many inconsequential, but to me, it carried great significance. It was the Williams-Sonoma soap and lotion caddy. Just two cute products with classy packaging sitting in small wire basket next to their kitchen faucet. To me, I equated this little piece of decor to mean its keeper had been successful in life. It seems silly I know, but at the time it was an extravagance&nbsp;I couldn't afford, and therefore, I thought, if only I too had a kitchen soap and lotion caddy one day, I would be able to look at my life's work with satisfaction and personal approval.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-C2pE62KzQPY/WvLnzw0dfmI/AAAAAAAAQfo/4n4hkrQPdwYUcYVVUq415a0HyFpgS4S8wCLcBGAs/s1600/Kitchen_Caddy.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Williams Sonoma Lemongrass Ginger Hand Soap and Lotion Kitchen Caddy " border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-C2pE62KzQPY/WvLnzw0dfmI/AAAAAAAAQfo/4n4hkrQPdwYUcYVVUq415a0HyFpgS4S8wCLcBGAs/s640/Kitchen_Caddy.jpg" title="Why I'm not trying to be successful anymore. A personal reflection on how I've reprioritized my life and set a new metric for happiness. #success #happiness #selfworth #williamssonoma #kitchenCaddy" width="480" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Add ten or more years, a marriage, some kids, and several jobs, and boy has my perspective on success changed. I've gone through many different phases; equating success to physical things, like the kitchen caddy, overcoming obstacles, like a move, or reaching a stage&nbsp;of life, like marriage or motherhood.<br /><br />There have been times when success meant I had a certain amount in my bank account or the ability to buy a steak dinner at a fancy restaurant without sacrificing&nbsp;and preparing for weeks in advance. Before college, I measured success by the number of <a href="https://amzn.to/2InCNG8">Gelly Roll colored pens</a> in my pencil pouch or the new pair of jeans I wore in my school picture. I might have put a significant amount of importance on how many miles I could run in less than 20 minutes or the marks I received on a report card. Later on, it was all about how many emails and client calls I could weed through before conquering rush hour and preparing a home-cooked dinner for my family. And more recently, I counted the number of loads of laundry I could fold while functioning on the fewest hours of sleep.<br /><br /><span style="background-color: white;">Society was telling me to work for success. To strive to parent successfully, to be successful at the office through a coordinated series of promotions, to be financially successful, and to have a successful marriage. I came to believe success was the ultimate achievement.&nbsp;And striving to achieve those successes left me exhausted, and not just from the lack of sleep which is customary with early motherhood.</span><br /><span style="background-color: #f5f6f5;"><br /></span>I came to a turning point, and I needed to take a step back and look at the areas in my life where I placed value and self-worth.<br /><br />After some reflection, I made some valuable observations:<br /><br /><ol><li>Measuring success by Gelly Rolls is lightyears different than laundry loads. How was I supposed to achieve success if the definition is ever-changing?</li><li>Success isn't obtainable in the long-term, and it shouldn't be tied to my self-worth.</li><li>I need to stop using success as a metric for measuring happiness.</li></ol>Let me explain further.<br /><br />Achieving each step toward what I defined as success and summiting the temporary mountain proved to bring fleeting joy because, at some point, the goal or the measure of success changed and I needed to climb higher or come to terms with descending&nbsp;the cliff. I realized trying to achieve success is like aiming at a moving target. Even if you do hit the mark, it moves on to its next position to challenge you. The job is never done. The second I was close to my temporary definition&nbsp;of success, the foundation shook, and a new standard was established. It is impossible to achieve, and yet, I couldn't seem to stop chasing it.<br /><br />Take the jeans as an example. If all the girls in your class are wearing a particular pair of jeans, it's natural to feel the pressure to fall in line with the trend. Once you obtain those jeans, however, your sights are set on the next bigger and better item. Gaining this level of success is essentially instant gratification. It will only sustain you for a short time before your sights are set on something else, and once again you are chasing the satisfaction of success. I was stuck in a rotating hamster wheel. I was working hard to catch the prize but going nowhere fast.<br /><br />There is one distinction I want to make here; there is a difference between goals and success. Goals are motivating, they drive us to improve personally and professionally. Goals give us measurable results, and they are ever-changing. Success is a metric many equate to happiness,&nbsp;and it is abstract.<br /><br />When I worked to be successful I was running an unwinnable race and my opponent was some superficial benchmark I set for myself. I learned I was exhausting myself for something, which in the long-term, is unattainable. Furthermore, I let these abstract benchmarks define my self-worth. I told myself I wasn't successful during the day if I was only able to answer half of the emails in my inbox. I told myself I was the opposite of successful; I was a failure. Had I worked my hardest? Yes, but my hardest wasn't good enough, and my self-esteem suffered because I had erected such rigid measurements which I could not obtain. I never equated success to the journey. So the lessons and positive attributions I should have garnered along the way to reaching my so-called successes were lost in my oversight and hyper-focus to achieve. It wasn't about what I did to get to the finish line; it was only about breaking through the tape. The end result was all that was important.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XApaV97bijE/WvLqzJ-TXEI/AAAAAAAAQf8/UP-NhwUzhnMRSTey6HIuyIV9OChTrFpAQCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_2800.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Mom and two boys at strawberry farm" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1203" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XApaV97bijE/WvLqzJ-TXEI/AAAAAAAAQf8/UP-NhwUzhnMRSTey6HIuyIV9OChTrFpAQCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_2800.jpg" title="Why I'm not trying to be successful anymore. A personal reflection on how I've reprioritized my life and set a new metric for happiness. #success #happiness #selfworth" width="480" /></a></div><br />So I stand at this crossroads which seems to defy everything I've been trained to embrace. I hear this little voice in my ear telling me to stop trying to be successful because it's distracting me from what's important. The idea of success is so abstract it leaves me chasing after a superficial and fleeting objective while I'm simultaneously placing too much of my self-worth in its allusive embrace. I will continue to set goals, continue to chase dreams, continue to better myself from the inside out, but I will no longer define myself by my so-called successes. I resolve not to measure my self-worth based on a bank account, a weight on the scale, a homecooked meal, a load of laundry, or a soap and lotion kitchen caddy.<br /><br />What is the metric you use to define your happiness?<br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9BzYNlX9JP4/WtNtidgC-vI/AAAAAAAAQa4/oLmXARNsekI3FImpWNi1dFsV6_Xq_ZWNgCLcBGAs/s1600/It_took_me_by_surprise.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="It Took Me by Surprise - One mother's unexpected lesson about siblings " border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9BzYNlX9JP4/WtNtidgC-vI/AAAAAAAAQa4/oLmXARNsekI3FImpWNi1dFsV6_Xq_ZWNgCLcBGAs/s640/It_took_me_by_surprise.jpg" title="It Took Me by Surprise - One mother's unexpected lesson about siblings #momlife #siblings #brothers #honesltymothering #parenting101" width="640" /></a></div><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">When my husband and I decided to have another child, I envisioned moments of sibling love. When the kids would play on the floor together with cherub-like smiles and laughter that carried from one edge of the house to another. A little more than two-and-a-half years later, I’ve learned those Norman-Rockwell moments are few and far between. More often than not, when my children do&nbsp;actually play together, it turns into some rendition of StarWars or Power Rangers, and anything worth swinging becomes a lightsaber or sword. Instantly, my once comfortable couch transforms into a springboard of propulsion to help them skyrocket through the galaxy (aka a trampoline).&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span style="background-color: white;"> <span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">But sometimes through the noise and inevitable destruction, which is bound to ensue when they find themselves in the same room, there is a glimpse. A small glimpse mind you, but a glimpse nonetheless; of two brothers playing in harmony with the uninhibited imagination found only in young children. They build Lego cities where dinosaurs roam, and army men rule. They construct winding trains with tracks going from one room to the next. They sit and play their Kindles next to one another snuggled on a couch sharing one cozy blanket between the two of them.&nbsp;Their handmade pillow forts quickly transform into a rocket ship and then into a playhouse, and then a city bus or firetruck. These moments melt my heart, and I&nbsp;cherish them dearly, but as they become more frequent, I've noticed another change.</span></span><br /><span style="background-color: white;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span> <span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I've become less important.&nbsp;</span></span><br /><span style="background-color: white;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span> <span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Now I don't want to overexaggerate&nbsp;here, my children are still young, and they need me for many things - laundry, food, boo boo kisses, bedtime stories, and the list goes on - but they do not need me to play. They do just fine on their own, without the outside influence of closeminded adult imaginations; they do fine without me.</span></span><br /><span style="background-color: white;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span></span> <span style="background-color: white;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I was watching them play together&nbsp;</span></span><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">outside</span><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">&nbsp;</span><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">the other day,&nbsp;and it hit me, I never expected that adding more people to our family would create a void for me.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I had always imagined the sheer size of an expanding family would lend itself to a feeling of total inclusiveness, and most of the time it does, but it also fosters an environment for imaginations and personalities to flourish independent of the other people in the family unit. I had assumed my boys would play together, but I thought I&nbsp;would be a part of it. The truth is, I just complicate things most of the time. I've discovered&nbsp;</span><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">a small sense of newfound loneliness, but it is as fleeting as a gust of&nbsp;</span>wind<span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">&nbsp;when I realize it comes from the very thing I desired for them - they find enjoyment in the company of their sibling.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">They do&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">occasionally ask me to make a cameo appearance during their playtime charades, that is until they banished me to the land of the bad guys, but for the most part, they play with me. Now my evolving role is to sit back, break up the sword fights, encourage them to play together, and acknowledge their progress and accomplishments.</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vc4WSEbTdBE/WtNuIlktWsI/AAAAAAAAQbM/VQR-pSIwEZEJ9pCSHyz5Ihtho3WQP5SkgCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1239.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Smiling brothers in Radio Flyer wagon with fall flowers" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vc4WSEbTdBE/WtNuIlktWsI/AAAAAAAAQbM/VQR-pSIwEZEJ9pCSHyz5Ihtho3WQP5SkgCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1239.jpg" title="It Took Me by Surprise - One mother's unexpected lesson about siblings #momlife #siblings #brothers #honesltymothering #parenting101" width="480" /></a></div><br /><span style="background-color: white;"><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">This is just one of the innumerable steps required to let them grow up and transition into young&nbsp;boys, then young men, and then men of character, but I want to acknowledge it</span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">&nbsp;because it took me by surprise.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I'm sure this is something all parents experience at one point or another; a stage of their child's life passing, seemingly large or even insignificant, so quickly or unexpectedly it seems to happen overnight. One moment they are tiny little beings which rely on you for every conceivable need and the next they are standing with a set of car keys ready to sit behind the wheel of a vehicle. The reality can be quite shocking if you aren't aware it's happening.&nbsp;</span></span><br /><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span> <span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I realize as a mom there will be many more opportunities for me to be shocked by the unexpected realization my kids are growing up and the arms of the clock pass much more quickly than I desire. Heck, they aren't even in kindergarten&nbsp;yet, so there is a long road in front of me full of surprises with unforeseen twists and turns. I'm looking forward to navigating the changes and watching how we all weather each stage of childhood, even knowing that my motherly role will change just as rapidly as they do.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zjYhGl32_T4/WtNtsHi5llI/AAAAAAAAQa8/njeEpMIRVT077c1f5iGdfXGXC7GsDsxJACEwYBhgL/s1600/brothers_at_fire_station.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img alt="Brothers looking into horizon at the fire station" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zjYhGl32_T4/WtNtsHi5llI/AAAAAAAAQa8/njeEpMIRVT077c1f5iGdfXGXC7GsDsxJACEwYBhgL/s640/brothers_at_fire_station.jpg" title="It Took Me by Surprise - One mother's unexpected lesson about siblings #momlife #siblings #brothers #honesltymothering #parenting101" width="480" /></a></div><br /><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">I need to learn and accept, that as my everyday role as a playmate and parent may change, but my priorities to lovingly guide my children through life via my words and persistent example do not. Parenting a two-year-old may look vastly different than traversing the terrain of preteens (I guess I'll learn that soon enough) and while my participation may not be wanted at times, the fact that I observe and influence during times of peril and praise in moments of triumph should be unwavering. It just amazed me, that at such young ages, this lesson has already presented become obvious, maybe it's just God's way of preparing me for what's ahead.</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span> <span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">If you have more than one child was there one particular change which has come as a surprise to you in your parenting journey? Please share in the comments below so we can learn from your experience.</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; font-family: &quot;times&quot; , &quot;times new roman&quot; , serif;">Be Blessed,</span><br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-2410334446816025132018-03-21T07:05:00.000-04:002018-03-21T08:25:19.124-04:00A Bit More Than Basic Salmon Recipe<div style="text-align: center;"><i>Disclosure: Some of the links in this a&nbsp;Bit More Than Basic Salmon Recipe&nbsp;post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase.&nbsp;</i></div><div itemscope="" itemtype="http://schema.org/Recipe"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5TJ2Tg_TTeM/WrE7TH2eGGI/AAAAAAAAQT4/vzS7-osYx9YGjj41Hd-pdoHKondX9c8EwCLcBGAs/s1600/More_than_Basic_Salmon.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Bit More than Basic Salmon Recipe" border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5TJ2Tg_TTeM/WrE7TH2eGGI/AAAAAAAAQT4/vzS7-osYx9YGjj41Hd-pdoHKondX9c8EwCLcBGAs/s640/More_than_Basic_Salmon.jpg" title="A Bit More than Basic Salmon Recipe" width="640" /></a></div><br />We still have a couple weeks left of Lent, and if you are in search of a great,&nbsp;family-friendly fish recipe than look no further. This, A Bit More Than Basic Salmon Recipe is a healthy and delicious twist on basic&nbsp;oven baked salmon. It requires less than 10 minutes of prep, and then you put it in the oven and walk away. It's a satisfying&nbsp;weeknight&nbsp;meal any time of year.<br /><br />Utilizing&nbsp;classic flavors, this salmon recipe can also serve as an adventurous transition for kids looking to move from fish sticks to fish filets.&nbsp;My little ones, who love fried fish, both ate this after a little&nbsp;coercing. They&nbsp;also quickly discovered how yummy salmon can be if you dress it up right and don't overcook it. For some picky eaters, fish can be a tricky meal, but this light take on a timeless recipe offers an easy to prepare and palatable&nbsp;first step into seafood.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Pro Tip: You know salmon is overcooked if it smells fishy.&nbsp;</b></div><br />Prep Time: 10 minutes<br />Cook time: 15 minutes<br />Yield: 4 salmon filets<br /><b><br /></b> <b>Ingredients:&nbsp;</b><br />1 lemon (1 tsp&nbsp;lemon zest and 2 tsp&nbsp;lemon juice)<br />1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs<br />2 TBS garlic-herb butter, room temperature (I use <a href="http://amzn.to/2pvsfdq">Kerrygold</a>)<br />4 salmon filets (5-6 oz/each), skin removed<br />4&nbsp;TBS mayonnaise<br />1/4 tsp&nbsp;pepper<br />1/2 tsp&nbsp;salt<br /><br /><b>Preparation Instructions:</b><br />Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Even space the salmon filets on the baking sheet.<br /><br />In a small bowl mix the panko bread crumbs and butter with a fork, then set aside. In a separate&nbsp;bowl whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and pepper. Reserve 2 TBS of the sauce mixture, then brush the remaining sauce evenly onto the salmon filets.<br /><br />Gently press the butter and bread crumbs evenly onto the salmon, so it forms an even crust. Bake the fish for 15-20 minutes or until fish is fully cooked (145 degrees).<br /><br />Before serving, drizzle the fish with the reserved sauce mixture.&nbsp;</div><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ricrpd2gKYM/WrE87nN4khI/AAAAAAAAQUE/bPIm2Tq9NWU16UBHBzE_O16FWViqA-31wCLcBGAs/s1600/A_Bit_More_Than_Basic_Salmon_Recipe.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Bit More than Basic Salmon Recipe" border="0" data-original-height="1290" data-original-width="600" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ricrpd2gKYM/WrE87nN4khI/AAAAAAAAQUE/bPIm2Tq9NWU16UBHBzE_O16FWViqA-31wCLcBGAs/s640/A_Bit_More_Than_Basic_Salmon_Recipe.jpg" title="A Bit More than Basic Salmon Recipe" width="296" /></a></div><br />If you are looking for some other tasty, family-friendly recipes, then you'll definitely want to look <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/p/recipes.html">here</a>. Do your children eat fish and if so what are some of your favorite transitional recipes for kids?<br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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to write this Hello Fresh Review. I just believe there are a lot of misconceptions about meal and recipe delivery services and I wanted to give an honest review of my experience with this service provider.&nbsp;</i></div><br />I hardly notice the ads which run along the flanks of my Facebook page or the ones draped over the top of almost every news article and blog post. They are so commonplace I, like most computer-obsessed Americans, no longer click through based on the&nbsp;promise of 40% off or a free widget with purchase. But I have noticed a trend when I go down the rabbit hole&nbsp;known as the interweb; there are more than a couple grocery and meal home delivery services, and they are all targeting me with their internet advertising.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Kx0iNXVyWjY/Wp6dIkLIErI/AAAAAAAAQQ8/0zobFwPabRs9Rq-KoIJT0wbjorbX14CsgCLcBGAs/s1600/Hello_Fresh_Review.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An Honest Hello Fresh Review" border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Kx0iNXVyWjY/Wp6dIkLIErI/AAAAAAAAQQ8/0zobFwPabRs9Rq-KoIJT0wbjorbX14CsgCLcBGAs/s640/Hello_Fresh_Review.jpg" style="cursor: move;" title="An Honest Hello Fresh Review" width="640" /></a></div><br />I've had friends and neighbors mention these meal delivery services to me, but I shied&nbsp;away, afraid that if I fell into the habit of having my meals left at my&nbsp;doorstep, I would somehow be jeopardizing&nbsp;my love of creating regular, fresh homemade meals. I had some preconceived and unsubstantiated notion that all of these services were cookie cutter versions of off-the-shelf suburban&nbsp;meals which lacked soul and substance. I was wrong in many regards.<br /><br />I recently took a chance and tried <a href="https://www.hellofresh.com/?c=EVERYDAYT&amp;utm_source=raf-share&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=clipboard">Hello Fresh</a>, and for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised.<br /><br />Here's how it works:<br /><br />1. <b>You pick your plan and your weekly quantity.</b> There are three different options - Classic Plan, Veggie Plan, and Family Plan. We chose the Family Plan and opted to receive 2 meals each week, each portioned for 4 people. Since I have two little ones, we have a healthy amount of leftovers with each meal. Each time the leftover dinner heated up nicely for day two.<br /><br />2. <b>Choose your meals. </b>Each week there are five different meals from which you can choose. You merely go to hellofresh.com, sign into your account, and make your selections. When you are looking through the options, you can read through the recipe and instructions. There is also a list of all the required instruments and any additional materials you might need for each recipe. I have an extensive pantry and spice cabinet, which I can tap into when necessary, but you will likely need salt, pepper, olive oil, sugar, and butter for any given recipe. Also, you can choose to "Skip the Week" for any reason. I really like this feature since I have a family of picky eaters and it can be challenging to find two out of five meals which work for all four of us.<br /><br />3. <b>Wait for your groceries.</b> After you place your order, you just sit back and relax, especially since you are saving yourself time at the grocery store. You might just have half a second more to do that certain&nbsp;something you've put off for the last couple months, or not, no one is judging you.<br /><br />4. <b>The delivery. </b>When your Hello Fresh box arrives, it will be packaged in a brown box and clearly marked. Inside there is plenty of insulation to ensure your food is fresh upon delivery. The meals are wrapped individually in brown paper bags, and all the meat for the meals are located underneath the brown bags, sandwiched between two big frozen insulated liners.<br /><br />5. <b>Move the food to the fridge.</b> Make sure you properly store your meals and ingredients. I move all the bags and meat to the refrigerator until I'm ready to prepare them for dinner.<br /><br />6. <b>Make dinner.</b> Once you're ready to cook, you'll want to locate the 11 x 8.5" recipe card which corresponds to the night's desired meal. The recipe cards include clear written instructions paired with step-by-step images to help guide you through the cooking process.<br /><br />7. <b>Serve dinner and enjoy.</b> Once you've assembled the meal according to the instructions and plated it, sit down and enjoy a well-balanced, homecooked meal.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dEDefjjG05o/Wp744JUK68I/AAAAAAAAQRg/Uiq7Up4dOy06IEt3H_yfi68a3bIb1wmiQCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1592.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Potato Chowder with spring mix" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dEDefjjG05o/Wp744JUK68I/AAAAAAAAQRg/Uiq7Up4dOy06IEt3H_yfi68a3bIb1wmiQCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1592.jpg" title="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Potato Chowder with spring mix" width="480" /></a></div><br />After my first two weeks using Hello Fresh, I'm mostly impressed,&nbsp;but there are some aspects I didn't love. Here is a list of some of my personal pros, cons, and misconceptions:<br /><div style="text-align: center;"><u><b><br /></b></u></div><div style="text-align: left;"><u><b>PROS</b></u></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><ul><li>As I mentioned my family is comprised of picky eaters and this allows us to try new recipes, which might not otherwise be on our radar.&nbsp;</li><li>The meals are well balanced, with correctly portioned proteins and lots of fresh veggies.</li><li>The recipes are easy to follow, and you can save the recipe cards so you can recreate the meal in the future.&nbsp;</li><li>You can review the entire recipe ahead of time, and you can make the recipes without having them delivered. If you really want to try three or four of the five meals, you'll need to do some of the grocery shopping,&nbsp;but the recipe is available to you to prepare it at home.&nbsp;</li><li>While the ingredients are provided, you are still cooking each meal yourself. It really doesn't take away from the feeling of proving your family with a healthy, home-cooked meal.</li><li>You can look at the available menu options for the next month if you are a super planner.&nbsp;</li></ul><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qZX65Of4cvw/Wp75J-_Mh2I/AAAAAAAAQRo/9br1WuMqR0sPfd5wJ1PSdvFrqhrI4MJjQCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1547.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Ingredients" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qZX65Of4cvw/Wp75J-_Mh2I/AAAAAAAAQRo/9br1WuMqR0sPfd5wJ1PSdvFrqhrI4MJjQCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1547.jpg" title="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Ingredients" width="480" /></a></div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><u><b>CONS</b></u></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><ul><li>I've been a little suspect about the freshness of some of the ingredients. For example, one of the recipes included asparagus, and on the outside of the package, it said, "Best By" and listed the day the Hello Fresh box was delivered. Typically I do not plan on cooking the meals the day of delivery since I don't know what time the box will arrive. I was surprised they didn't choose to send produce which was best by a date later in the week to ensure freshness. I also once received chicken which smelled a bit.&nbsp;</li></ul><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PMMJ7nsP9lo/Wp7pOgIoy2I/AAAAAAAAQRM/zbz8fKs-_9QCSn_KZ2Qk7VGzdowt6_EzwCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1709.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Questioning Freshness because of &quot;Best By&quot; Date" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-PMMJ7nsP9lo/Wp7pOgIoy2I/AAAAAAAAQRM/zbz8fKs-_9QCSn_KZ2Qk7VGzdowt6_EzwCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1709.jpg" title="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Questioning Freshness because of &quot;Best By&quot; Date" width="480" /></a></div><ul><li>There are a lot of potatoes. I grew up in a potato-loving home. We had some version of potato with most of our meals, but when it comes to a meal delivery service, I would except a little more diversity. I want to caveat this and make sure you know there are different types of potatoes, sweet and Yukon, and they are prepared differently from recipe to recipe. I wish there were some more recipes with pasta, rice, quinoa, barley, or some other starchy options besides just potatoes.</li><li>One of my meals required eggs, and one of the two eggs was cracked when I received it. As I noted above, I have most of the ingredients on hand, so I just grabbed an egg from the refrigerator, but it did run onto some of the other package ingredients.&nbsp;</li><li>I'd like to see some fish options for the family meal plan, especially since it's <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/02/40-days-of-faith.html">Lent</a> and many families do not eat meat on Fridays during this time.&nbsp;</li><li>We don't have as many scheduled leftover nights.</li></ul><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;"><u><b>MISCONCEPTIONS</b></u></div><div style="text-align: left;"></div><ul><li>I thought the food was delivered prechopped and ready to cook, that's not the case. You still need to prep your ingredients. Some of the components come premeasured in their packaging but not all of them.</li></ul><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R4Jxf9uzyZM/Wp74_2Qs7zI/AAAAAAAAQRk/sZL9yIj1ctAYZxXJkrFP96CtRuiycSRbwCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1729.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Asparagus and lemon wedges - meal prep" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1600" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R4Jxf9uzyZM/Wp74_2Qs7zI/AAAAAAAAQRk/sZL9yIj1ctAYZxXJkrFP96CtRuiycSRbwCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1729.jpg" title="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Asparagus and lemon wedges - meal prep" width="640" /></a></div><ul><li>These meal options really do not cut down on time spent in the kitchen. There are multiple steps, and each recipe that I've made takes about 45 minutes of combined prep and cooking time.</li><li>I cook a lot, and I like to experiment with different flavors and techniques. I've actually learned a couple things from following the recipes, and I honestly didn't expect to learn anything new.</li></ul><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-p0_a6FMPjNY/Wp74w6g_H1I/AAAAAAAAQRc/dZgTxRiQW3U-Ma7j4RKd5H5EUI61r8fygCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1550.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Steak, potatoes and green beans" border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-p0_a6FMPjNY/Wp74w6g_H1I/AAAAAAAAQRc/dZgTxRiQW3U-Ma7j4RKd5H5EUI61r8fygCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1550.jpg" title="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - Steak, potatoes and green beans" width="640" /></a></div><div><br /></div><div>Overall, I'm happy with our experience with Hello Fresh, and I am going to continue to have meals delivered in the foreseeable future. I doubt I'll keep it up long term but for the next couple months its fun to stretch my family outside of their comfort zone and learn a couple new recipes.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>If you'd like to give Hello Fresh a try, you can save $40 off your first week by using this link: <a href="https://www.hellofresh.com/?c=EVERYDAYT&amp;utm_source=raf-share&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=clipboard">Save $40 off one week of Hello Fresh</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SEOwS3pnKBk/Wp77259tvfI/AAAAAAAAQR8/JUSC7y3cwJQ9Q1XdCzedhhagnTUUgd6BwCLcBGAs/s1600/Hello_Fresh_Review_Pin.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="An Honest Hello Fresh Review - The Pros, The Cons, and the Misconceptions. 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If so, I'd love to know your thoughts and recommendations.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div>Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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text-align: center;"><i style="text-align: start;">Disclosure: Some of the links in this Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - Book Review&nbsp;post are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase.&nbsp;</i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RPPZdNlGfFU/WmCzCFlmMTI/AAAAAAAAQKM/aMfKHMfE18gDCXvm4e7TrZ-Kj5Tq6kISwCLcBGAs/s1600/Book%2BReview%2BTemplate.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - Book Review on www.Everyday-Thoughts.com - Historical Fiction, 4.5/5 stars and a Must Read." border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RPPZdNlGfFU/WmCzCFlmMTI/AAAAAAAAQKM/aMfKHMfE18gDCXvm4e7TrZ-Kj5Tq6kISwCLcBGAs/s640/Book%2BReview%2BTemplate.jpg" title="Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - Book Review on www.Everyday-Thoughts.com - Historical Fiction, 4.5/5 stars and a Must Read." width="640" /></a></div><br />Let me wipe away my overly emotional tears so I can compile my thoughts. I just finished the book, <a href="http://amzn.to/2CBcy97">Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate</a>, and I have the same sensation I get after watching an emotionally-trying movie.<br /><br />When I decided to start reading Before We Were Yours, I had no idea what it was about, I only knew it was based in Memphis. Since I have ties to Memphis, and the book was getting rave reviews, I gave it a shot. Let me start by saying I cannot believe this is actually based on historically accurate events and while living there for over 10 years I was utterly ignorant of it all.<br /><br />Wingate tells the story through two different perspectives exposed side by side, alternating from one chapter to another. One is of a young girl in the early 1940's, Rill Foss who later ends up going by the name May Weathers; and the other is a modern day narration of a young woman, Avery Stafford. The beautifully written novel ultimately ties the two stories together but not until the very end.<br /><br />The reader is introduced to Rill and her youthful adventures living on a shanty boat floating down the Mississippi Delta with her parents, Queenie and Briny, and her siblings, Gabion, Camellia, Fern, and Lark. The seven of them clearly live an impoverished life, but they are rich in love. The gypsy family parks their floating home on the banks of Delta in Memphis and shortly after that Queenie is swept off to the local hospital with birthing complications while delivering her twins - a boy and a girl. In the commotion of the crisis, the other five children are left onboard the Arcadia (the name of the shanty boat) to await the return of their parents. However, it is the police who come knocking and eventually corral the children to what the reader later learns is The Tennessee Children's Home Society run by Georgia Tann.<br /><br />It is at this point in Rill's story, Wingate creatively and believably&nbsp;interweaves fact with fiction. The Tennessee Children's Home Society was, in fact, an orphanage in&nbsp;Shelby County (Memphis). It is historically documented as an institution notorious for its abuse of children while funneling them through a black market adoption&nbsp;network which catered&nbsp;to high-end clientele&nbsp;like Hollywood's elite, people of high political standing and influence, and the extremely wealthy. While in the care of the Tennessee Children's Home Society, the children experience the atrocities of everything from bullying and molestation, to confinement and starvation to even death.<br /><br />In the story, the five children quickly learn they need to behave if they hope to evade the torment and punishment customary for children at the orphanage. Their names are changed, and they are paraded in front of potential parents, like a&nbsp;steer at a cattle show, in hopes their cherub-like blond curls and blue eyes capture the heart of a prospective parent. In a heartbreaking twist of events, one of the children disappears after a run in with a pedophile&nbsp;handyman who lives at the orphanage, Mr. Riggs. Then one after another the children are sold to the highest bidder and adopted to unknowing families who are told stories of needy children, with well-educated parents lost to some unforeseen tragedy. All of the stories and the paperwork which backs them up are fictionalized parts of Georgia Tann's elaborate black market scheme.<br /><br />While this story unfolds, the reader also learns of Avery Stafford, a modern-day D.C. attorney, and daughter of a prominent South Carolina Senator. Avery is an ambitious young woman being groomed to follow in the footsteps of her father. After her father's health complications become known to her, she returns home to South Carolina to travel the state with him and follow him from political appearance to political appearance. It is along this journey she meets an elderly woman who leaves an undeniable impression on her. How the two stories come together will keep you on the edge of your seat.<br /><br />Wingate, interweaves romance, family drama, fact fiction, and suspense throughout the tales of these two women.&nbsp; If you are looking for a great book based on historical events, then add this one to your reading list this year. I highly recommend <a href="http://amzn.to/2BbUssY">Before We Were Yours</a>&nbsp;by Lisa Wingate. I give it 4.5/5 stars.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wht6OwZ2y30/WmC2ZBbDqlI/AAAAAAAAQKY/7uSbyq0OdL0x2o8EXC7DuYApTlTE-_7hgCLcBGAs/s1600/Before_We_Were_Yours.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - Book Review on www.Everyday-Thoughts.com - Historical Fiction, 4.5/5 stars and a Must Read." border="0" data-original-height="1290" data-original-width="600" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wht6OwZ2y30/WmC2ZBbDqlI/AAAAAAAAQKY/7uSbyq0OdL0x2o8EXC7DuYApTlTE-_7hgCLcBGAs/s640/Before_We_Were_Yours.jpg" title="Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - Book Review on www.Everyday-Thoughts.com - Historical Fiction, 4.5/5 stars and a Must Read." width="296" /></a></div><br />What are you reading? Join me on <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/48388674-brittany">Goodreads</a>&nbsp;(a social network for book lovers) to see what I have on my reading list this year.<br />________<br /><br />If you love to read check out some of my other book reviews here:<br /><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/02/world-war-ii-page-turners.html"><br /></a><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/02/world-war-ii-page-turners.html">World War II Page Turners</a><br /><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/05/the-pearl-that-broke-its-shell-book.html">The Pearl that Broke its Shell</a><br /><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/11/nourished-by-lia-huber-book-review.html">Nourished by Lia Huber</a><br /><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/06/a-man-called-ove-book-review.html">A Man Called Ove&nbsp;by&nbsp;Fredrik Backman</a><br /><a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/07/left-to-tell-discovering-god-amidst.html">Left to Tell Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust&nbsp;by&nbsp;Immaculee Ilibagiza</a><br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-81942212098685181032017-12-20T14:58:00.000-05:002017-12-22T14:41:42.015-05:00Twice Baked Potato RecipeI grew up on the stereotypical midwestern diet of meat and potatoes. In fact, I remember, fondly, having potatoes with almost every meal as a youngster. Thankfully, that menu has not carried over into adulthood - I mean I'm already having enough trouble losing weight, adding potatoes to my meal plan 4-5 times a week would be a hurdle I doubt I could overcome. Regardless, I still love potatoes of all varieties - mashed, scalloped, whipped, baked, fried, broiled, grilled. I'm starting to feel like Bubba Gump talking about all the different&nbsp;variations of how you can serve shrimp, so I'll stop,&nbsp;but you get the point.<br /><br />I recently shared my <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/11/twice-baked-sweet-potato-recipe.html">Twice Baked Sweet Potato Recipe</a> which is perfectly portioned because no one else in my family likes sweet potatoes, so it's always a personal treat when I make them. Regular twice&nbsp;baked potatoes, on the other hand, are a family favorite at my house. In fact, almost every year for my husband's birthday they are the one thing he requests. And it wouldn't feel like the holidays if the menu didn't include twice baked potatoes and brussels&nbsp;sprouts - a true sign Christmas has arrived. So this holiday season I want to share with you a recipe you are sure to find served at our house this year and for many, many years into the future. Of course, they will be topped with crispy bacon, cheese,&nbsp;and chives; because yea... bacon.<br /><br />You can hit the gym in the new year, for now, just enjoy!<br /><br /><div itemscope="" itemtype="http://schema.org/Recipe"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FsCzjn5rg4Q/WjqblAw-uVI/AAAAAAAAQEs/O8GY1mcA2iolBfYMst5bm5fGBo78zGXUACLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_0407.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="This Twice Baked Potato Recipe is ideal to serve as a side during the holidays, for birthdays, or for those evenings when you want a comforting meal sure to stick to your bones." border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FsCzjn5rg4Q/WjqblAw-uVI/AAAAAAAAQEs/O8GY1mcA2iolBfYMst5bm5fGBo78zGXUACLcBGAs/s640/IMG_0407.jpg" title="This Twice Baked Potato Recipe is ideal to serve as a side during the holidays, for birthdays, or for those evenings when you want a comforting meal sure to stick to your bones." width="640" /></a></div><br /><br />This Twice Baked Potato Recipe is ideal to serve as a side during the holidays, for birthdays, or for those evenings when you want a comforting meal sure to stick to your bones.<br /><br />Prep Time: 1 hour minutes<br />Cook time: 30 minutes<br />Yield:&nbsp;4-5 large potatoes<br /><b><br /></b><b>Ingredients:&nbsp;</b><br />5 Large Potatoes (about 1/2 lb each)<br />1/4 C milk<br />1/2 C sour cream<br />1/2 C butter, softened<br />8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, divided<br />2 TBS chives<br />12 oz fully cooked bacon, chopped and divided<br />salt and pepper to taste<br /><br /><b>Preparation Instructions:</b><br />Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash your potatoes and poke holes along the tops of each one. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.<br /><br />Cut an oval shape out of the top of each potato and remove the skin. Then, using a spoon carefully remove the inside of the potato and transfer it to a bowl. Be sure to leave a thin layer of flesh between the skin, about 1/4 inch, so it is not too delicate to handle.<br /><br />Into the bowl with the potato add the milk, sour cream, butter, half the bacon, half of the cheese, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Transfer the potato mixture into a piping bag. You can prepare up until this point ahead of time to make meal prep and entertaining a snap.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mr2I3cuU4-w/Wjq6R_I7eNI/AAAAAAAAQFA/oV6tyon6sh4bpzkLsvVvTFn9dxX7lUxpACLcBGAs/s1600/50F5A17D-7B3E-4B61-BA76-6586DCBD2097.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="This Twice Baked Potato Recipe is ideal to serve as a side during the holidays, for birthdays, or for those evenings when you want a comforting meal sure to stick to your bones." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mr2I3cuU4-w/Wjq6R_I7eNI/AAAAAAAAQFA/oV6tyon6sh4bpzkLsvVvTFn9dxX7lUxpACLcBGAs/s640/50F5A17D-7B3E-4B61-BA76-6586DCBD2097.JPG" title="This Twice Baked Potato Recipe is ideal to serve as a side during the holidays, for birthdays, or for those evenings when you want a comforting meal sure to stick to your bones." width="480" /></a></div><br />Change the oven to 350 degrees. Line up the potato skins on a cookie sheet. Pipe the potato mixture into 4 of the potato skins. You'll have 5 potato skins, but I usually make one extra in case a skin is punctured. Allow the potato mixture to overflow out the top of the potato. Cover each potato with the remaining cheese and bacon. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until hot throughout. Sprinkle with chives and serve.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LkrVC6gBKAw/Wjq8C_tjnwI/AAAAAAAAQFM/Dw83-GCY62kshMoogvtul-pnMjmhTlfQQCLcBGAs/s1600/Twice_baked_potatoes.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="This Twice Baked Potato Recipe is ideal to serve as a side during the holidays, for birthdays, or for those evenings when you want a comforting meal sure to stick to your bones." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1033" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-LkrVC6gBKAw/Wjq8C_tjnwI/AAAAAAAAQFM/Dw83-GCY62kshMoogvtul-pnMjmhTlfQQCLcBGAs/s640/Twice_baked_potatoes.jpg" title="This Twice Baked Potato Recipe is ideal to serve as a side during the holidays, for birthdays, or for those evenings when you want a comforting meal sure to stick to your bones." width="411" /></a></div><br />I think I could eat potatoes every day if you made me, but my favorite way to enjoy them is probably twice baked.<br /><br />What are some of your holiday must-haves when it comes to meal planning?<br /><br /></div>Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-88851843483243936582017-12-12T10:35:00.001-05:002017-12-12T10:45:16.083-05:00Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches<div style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; color: black; font-family: Times; font-size: medium; font-style: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: center; text-decoration-color: initial; text-decoration-style: initial; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px;"><div style="margin: 0px;"><i>This is a sponsored post for which I have received free product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.&nbsp;&nbsp;</i></div><div style="margin: 0px;"><i><br /></i></div><div style="margin: 0px; text-align: left;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DjLGnDC1ijE/Wi9Dreo74RI/AAAAAAAAQCg/t7PwWIHO05IVMD6BwFM8eX9M-fxigyskACLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1694.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DjLGnDC1ijE/Wi9Dreo74RI/AAAAAAAAQCg/t7PwWIHO05IVMD6BwFM8eX9M-fxigyskACLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1694.jpg" title="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." width="640" /></a></div><br />It's the most wonderful time of the year. A time for family, friends, personal reflection and growth, faith, and an intense sense of nostalgia. Between baking Christmas cookies, decking the halls, and attending school Christmas pageants with little ones reenacting the real reason for the season and then joyously singing the Little Drummer Boy; it can be hard to consistently be a thoughtful gift giver. We have&nbsp;so many other things which preoccupy our thoughts and demanding our&nbsp;time and attention. Not to mention, it is easy to become jaded by all the over-the-shelf solutions for the mom, man, or teen in your life. It seems like you have to pick one of the top&nbsp;ten items that appear on some magazine gift list and hope your recipient falls into that preconceived box - because all moms want candles and bubble bath and all men need a beard grooming kit or a new golf club right?<br /><br />Wrong!<br /><br />This year gift giving doesn't need to be so stressful. At least not if you have someone on your list who needs the gift of time.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TGAzYqsdHkc/Wi9LN8qIMXI/AAAAAAAAQDE/yD2MjvKzGgkQN4p379g7-3HRdZT2kMGlACLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_0171.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TGAzYqsdHkc/Wi9LN8qIMXI/AAAAAAAAQDE/yD2MjvKzGgkQN4p379g7-3HRdZT2kMGlACLcBGAs/s640/IMG_0171.jpg" title="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." width="640" /></a></div><br />Jord Wood Watches are a classic gift option with a unique touch. They are all expertly crafted from a beautiful selection of exotic woods. The internal mechanisms are Swiss-made&nbsp;and self winding, so they have a timeless touch of quality which has been trusted for generations. Jord Wood Watches can be engraved which gives each timepiece an extra-special touch and sentiment. There's a great selection of wooden watch options for both <a href="https://www.woodwatches.com/shop/men/#everyday-thoughts">men</a> and <a href="https://www.woodwatches.com/shop/women/#everyday-thoughts">women</a>, so there's really something for almost everyone on your gift list this year, young and old alike.<br /><br />I have been a long-time lover of Jord Wood Watches. I've been wearing my <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2015/11/timeless.html">Cora watch</a> almost every day&nbsp;for the last two years, and I&nbsp;recently got a new, larger style&nbsp;<a href="https://www.woodwatches.com/series/frankie/ebony-and-gold#everyday-thoughts">Frankie in Ebony and Gold</a>. I can say whenever I wear one of my Jord Wooden Watches I get compliments on it. Most recently, I've had an older woman&nbsp;stop me while I was grocery shopping and then a young teenager who worked at a photo center comment on the timelessness and craftsmanship of the watch.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oXeO5_VytBY/Wi9NlhLGRoI/AAAAAAAAQDY/3wx_GY69cew-FnQzV_nA4fUlKKMkgwvCQCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_0025.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oXeO5_VytBY/Wi9NlhLGRoI/AAAAAAAAQDY/3wx_GY69cew-FnQzV_nA4fUlKKMkgwvCQCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_0025.jpg" title="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." width="480" /></a></div><br />Jord Wood Watches come in a gorgeous wooden box, which is almost a gift in and of itself, so if you aren't the gift wrapping type, a gift from Jord is sure to impress, even without all the frilly wrapping and ribbons.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ik9rPUOApmk/Wi9KvvedjfI/AAAAAAAAQDA/cQcfP1UMIL8S9ShL_91pOzI6LzMgCYD2ACEwYBhgL/s1600/IMG_0020.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1143" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ik9rPUOApmk/Wi9KvvedjfI/AAAAAAAAQDA/cQcfP1UMIL8S9ShL_91pOzI6LzMgCYD2ACEwYBhgL/s640/IMG_0020.jpg" title="Give the Gift of Time with Jord Wood Watches this holiday season. Plus save 25% instantly (through 12/15/17) with link in blog post." width="456" /></a></div><br /><span style="text-align: center;">This holiday season, do not settle for a one-size-fits-all gift. Explore some of the fantastic options from Jord.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="text-align: center;"><br /></span> <span style="text-align: center;">Also, did I mention you can save 25% on your purchase between now and December&nbsp;15th, just by clicking this <a href="https://www.woodwatches.com/g/everyday-thoughts">link</a>? So hurry and place your order now so it will arrive before Santa Clause comes down the chimney.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="text-align: center;"><br /></span> <span style="text-align: center;">Be Blessed,</span><br /><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt; text-align: center;">Brittany</span><br /><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" style="text-align: center;" width="33" /><a href="https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/everyday-thoughts-3740723" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Follow Me On Bloglovin" border="0" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/ZAfCUFnLuR_ApxjWhkxDvWfoJXWc-DWNFLZFHV1c6mH7ss-n5p2xt9WaDvlhCJG7ptcHHjhIUxJeOePDzxx0tu0PCPgARSNFklprZl12ZUM4zezhTonjyqH06uT7ONYJgT_aRH9TABAqNqIgzGtY-dytDF_fH-NCh1hwV5nhObriXcDLRYKm_-09GXznpI4irT9hGDrXLhIvVY4JxSqawwp1dDmeMj20mPKqZ0KcWT3CgLgGVRC8IhPsxQPzEryJa75fd6r-WvlC6xWiC25gnrkYZiQSkiuNyXsIytYH3fiFwdrzRE5QTII7vPz2KPx78HWzmdql8yRsw0lmO2LtBS-Qt2lbAtfoNJArFu56mWaeX0BgK9ghmKLC9nqHX_KEGgOSS4XV6pgma6Gr9fn546aQsNw7Vfh0w4_TxZsxvd2fDX2kkCzFRtd1R7ThaF5cKvZvg1BnZhCRayTEhkA_QbcoZcIOR0d7Efh6iRaTitkIBfgxFpZrguXdBRk5EhkAtGMo-IUZGFTq6nY2OgKBnZ3y3pJ_zT6dvQamKazOXO48omlWYx8noXDpThTAGodn5v-7Mm5HkCWK3fdoT3jf13Emrzqth0ZvqhijwXlQPtbZYg=s33-no" width="33" /></a><span style="font-size: 16px; 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font-size: medium; text-align: center;">Disclosure: "Update Your Winter Wardrobe With These Key Staple Pieces" is a sponsored post from Pink Coconut Boutique, and I received compensation for publishing it. The opinions expressed in this post are not my own, but I felt like their products align with my brand and I want to make sure I'm always keeping my readers updated on the latest trends in fashion, food, parenting techniques, and prayerful practices. I hope you enjoy!&nbsp;</i></div><div class="p1" style="text-align: left;"><i style="font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center;">________________________</i><br /><i style="font-family: Times; font-size: medium; text-align: center;"><br /></i></div><div class="p1" style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;">When winter is approaching, it’s time to take a peek inside your closet. Naturally, with cooler temperatures on the way, you’re going to be swapping out your sandals, lightweight summer dresses, and shorts for warmer apparel, like </span><a href="https://www.pinkcoconutboutique.com/tops/sweater-top.html" style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;"><span class="s2">sweater tops</span></a><span style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;"> and stylish </span><a href="https://www.pinkcoconutboutique.com/footwear/booties.html" style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;"><span class="s2">booties</span></a><span style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;">.</span><span class="Apple-converted-space" style="-webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;">&nbsp;</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Cold weather doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t still look chic, either. In fact, wintertime offers some unique opportunities for creative layering. And who doesn’t like an excuse to invigorate their wardrobes with some new pieces?<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">If you’re ready to rotate your closet over for the winter months, make sure to incorporate these key <a href="https://www.glamour.com/gallery/winter-clothing-staples-every-woman-needs#5"><span class="s2">staple pieces</span></a>. To boot, we’ve included some style tips on how to wear them, no matter the occasion.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><br /></div><div class="p2"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7ljWtuSg_l4/WiQOrCdD9SI/AAAAAAAAQAo/n0MXs_Q05ioHojaCVvz9m0xjP2dkqgoZwCLcBGAs/s1600/PastedGraphic-2.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="334" data-original-width="332" height="400" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7ljWtuSg_l4/WiQOrCdD9SI/AAAAAAAAQAo/n0MXs_Q05ioHojaCVvz9m0xjP2dkqgoZwCLcBGAs/s400/PastedGraphic-2.png" width="397" /></a></div><br /></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><b>Sweater Tops<br /></b>It doesn’t get much cozier than a sweater in winter — and the good news is, you can still look super stylish wearing one.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Consider a sweater with shoulder cutouts, which has a vibe that’s subtly sultry but still casual enough for daytime, especially with patterned leggings and flat booties.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">A simple V-neck sweater gets a spunky upgrade with lace-up detailing at the top — and all you need are skinny jeans and over-the-knee boots to pull the whole look together.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Don’t overlook a simple wide-sleeved cardigan, either. Wear it open over a long-sleeved knit top with rolled up faded jeans and pointy flats, and then top it all off with some simple crystal or pearl stud earrings. It’s a combo that manages to be both classic and contemporary.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"><b></b></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><b>Dressy Leggings<br /></b>Who says <a href="https://www.pinkcoconutboutique.com/bottoms/leggings.html"><span class="s2">leggings</span></a> are just for the gym? Sure, this piece is perfect for lounging, but in the right fabrics and with the right details, they can be downright dressy.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Colored leggings, for example, have a little more intrigue than basic black. For the winter months, consider a pair in burgundy, eggplant, or a deep green. They’re stunning even with a long, slouchy sweater or blouse in a soft hue like cream, taupe, or gray. Top it all off with a belted wool coat and some ankle boots for a look that’s totally on-trend.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">There’s nothing wrong with neutral leggings, either. Black is a stellar staple to have in your closet because it’s obviously ultra-versatile. You can make black leggings look instantly elegant with a lace top and pointy pumps, or dress them down with a floral blouse and flats. The bottom line is that you’re bound to get a lot of wear out of them.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Charcoal gray is slightly less dramatic than black, and also an ideal pick for winter. Gray leggings look phenomenal with graphic tees and slip-on sneakers for a more casual look, but can also be dressed up with a white silk tunic and crimson platform heels, for example.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">This winter, seek out a pair or two of leggings that have some subtle detailing on them, which have a little added visual interest. Studs, embroidery, and distressed slits or tears all make for an edgier pair of leggings that you can sport with a graphic T-shirt and blazer to strike a compromise between professional and rock ’n’ roll.</span></span></div><div class="p3"><br /></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><b><span style="font-family: inherit;">Booties</span></b></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">If there’s one style of shoe you’re going to want a pair (or three) of this winter, it’s booties. They’re practical in the colder months for obvious reasons, but they’re also super cute with a wide variety of ensembles. Plus, they come with an endless array of heel heights, toe shapes, materials, and details, so you’re bound to find a pair that works for every outfit and occasion.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">You can’t beat a flat brown leather bootie with distressed jeans and an oversized scarf for the ultimate low-key daytime outfit. On the other hand, suede booties in charcoal gray or jet black look stunning with a sweater dress, opaque tights, and a statement necklace — and that’s an ensemble you can easily wear to work at a casual office or on a date.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-j7aBJrgf37s/WiQO23h5glI/AAAAAAAAQAs/mAfK1I3e0oIdPLY51Y-X4GIeHpGFqM8BgCLcBGAs/s1600/PastedGraphic-3.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="311" data-original-width="313" height="396" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-j7aBJrgf37s/WiQO23h5glI/AAAAAAAAQAs/mAfK1I3e0oIdPLY51Y-X4GIeHpGFqM8BgCLcBGAs/s400/PastedGraphic-3.png" width="400" /></a></div><br /></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">You’ll also find that moto booties add edge to just about anything, whether gray leggings and a tunic or a cowl-neck top and a midi skirt.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></span><br /><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"><br /></span></span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><b><span style="font-family: inherit;">Velvet tops</span></b></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">There’s no doubt that velvet just oozes winter charm. So this season, embrace the luxe fabric with some new <a href="https://www.pinkcoconutboutique.com/tops/velvet-tops.html"><span class="s2">velvet tops</span></a>, which give any ensemble a dose of understated glamour.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></span></span><br /><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="Apple-converted-space"><br /></span></span></span><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kcA_cs9stWY/WiQO8ru_6rI/AAAAAAAAQAw/9YLFo_W-DNAR_CjLDjgWLNzxu9dYB5g-wCLcBGAs/s1600/PastedGraphic-1.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="340" data-original-width="274" height="400" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kcA_cs9stWY/WiQO8ru_6rI/AAAAAAAAQAw/9YLFo_W-DNAR_CjLDjgWLNzxu9dYB5g-wCLcBGAs/s400/PastedGraphic-1.png" width="321" /></a></div><br /></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">We love a long-sleeved off-the-shoulder velvet top with black skinny jeans and wedges for date night or drinks with your girlfriends, or a velvet cardigan with a basic tee and boyfriend jeans for a more laid-back, yet still fashion-forward outfit.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">A flutter-sleeved velvet T-shirt has a romantic look, peeking out from under a wool parka. Pair it with leather leggings for an edgy vibe, or gray denim for a softer look.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"><b></b></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><b><span style="font-family: inherit;">Tunics</span></b></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Talk about versatility! Depending on the length, a <a href="https://www.pinkcoconutboutique.com/tunic-dresses-some-wear-w-leggings.html"><span class="s2">tunic</span></a> can be worn as a top or a dress, layered over hosiery or leggings, and worn for chill daytime activities, as well as dressier evening affairs.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"><b></b></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">During winter, go for a tunic in a soft hue like dusty mauve, purple, or mocha — crochet trim or floral lace along the neck or sleeves will add even more femininity to this piece. You can sport it over leggings or tights with slouchy suede boots for a boho look, or with nude pumps when you’re going out at night.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">A velvet tunic with long bell sleeves has a subtle ‘70s feel, but it feels instantly modern when worn with wedge boots and textured tights.</span></span></div><div class="p2"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span class="s1"></span><br /></span></div><div class="p3"><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Florals aren’t just for spring and summer. Go ahead and slip on a tunic with a flower print — with a black, navy, or otherwise dark background, it’s still seasonally appropriate. Then pair it with knee-high riding boots and an infinity scarf, and you’re ready to roll.</span></span><br /><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;">_______________________________</span></span><br /><span class="s1"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></span></div><div class="p2"><span class="s1"></span></div><style type="text/css"> p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 15.0px} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p4 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 11.0px Arial; color: #0563c1; -webkit-text-stroke: #0563c1} p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #0563c1; -webkit-text-stroke: #0563c1} span.s1 {font-kerning: 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I have received compensation. All opinions are my own.&nbsp;&nbsp;</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i><br /></i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-x9Ygd_ZmPAQ/Wh7pQsKRSgI/AAAAAAAAP-0/oZ-Qq-THF284rC-hTisWZtk2oJ7DrEj5ACLcBGAs/s1600/Basic_Invite_FB.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-x9Ygd_ZmPAQ/Wh7pQsKRSgI/AAAAAAAAP-0/oZ-Qq-THF284rC-hTisWZtk2oJ7DrEj5ACLcBGAs/s640/Basic_Invite_FB.jpg" title="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." width="640" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2207-2540-e450-f60cd1dba2ce"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">How is it Christmas seems to sneak up on me every year? It is literally the same day. Every. Single. Year. And somehow I'm always surprised when it rolls around. I am apparently not the mom who has each present selected and perfectly wrapped before mid-October. Instead, I usually get slapped in the face with the realization Christmas is upon us sometime between Thanksgiving and my birthday, which is in early December. I'll be minding my own business, driving down the street scanning the channels when - BAM - I'm stopped dead in my tracks by the infamous "All Christmas Music" channel. From that point on I am scrambling to try and create a picture-perfect Christmas experience for my family.</span></span><br /><br /><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2207-6a7d-6187-e0e60678ccde"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This year is different. I at least tried to get ahead of some of my holiday planning. In fact, like almost every other middle-class suburban mom, I shlepped my husband and kids to a field out yonder for the perfect Christmas card picture and thanks to the fantastic work of <a href="http://jmclaneproductions.wixsite.com/">JMcLane Productions</a> I had an incredible assortment of images from which to choose. Seriously, if you're in the Atlanta area and need a photographer, these guys are top notch!</span></span><br /><span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></span><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2207-91d5-db8e-f2ba4d634a55"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Since we have family and friends near and far, it has always been important to me to try and foster those relationships in the best way possible, especially during the holidays. I'm a traditionalist, so one way I do that is to send Christmas cards. I love receiving snail mail and I know I'm not the only one who gets excited when they open their mailbox in December. Seriously, raise your hand if you get joy tearing into those colored envelopes, am I right? </span></span><br /><br /><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2207-bfdc-4d60-144a766104f7"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Each year, I take special care to make sure our Christmas card selection is just right. My husband and I make it a date night, and we sit together with our beer and wine and debate the different variations of blue and the use of "Merry" vs. "Happy" - man do our date nights look so different than they did before children. But I digress, in the wake of our family photo shoot, I was exceptionally picky about our </span><a href="https://www.basicinvite.com/events/holiday-cards.html" style="text-decoration-line: none;"><span style="color: #1155cc; font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; text-decoration-line: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Christmas cards</span></a><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, I really wanted to knock them out of the park this year. When I stumbled across Basic Invite, I was immediately impressed by the design and customization options, and I knew I had found my match. </span></span><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZwjRvimmwtg/Wh7tj5msuNI/AAAAAAAAP_g/Jf2EaecVP9ghpIgZKfFmk2YS1D5fjbEuQCEwYBhgL/s1600/basic_invite_joyous.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZwjRvimmwtg/Wh7tj5msuNI/AAAAAAAAP_g/Jf2EaecVP9ghpIgZKfFmk2YS1D5fjbEuQCEwYBhgL/s640/basic_invite_joyous.jpg" title="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2208-3017-c5ae-901116612845"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">We spent time creating several different card options, customizing the edges, the envelope colors, the fonts and foils, and the weight and texture of the cards themselves. In fact, I ordered six completely different Holiday card samples just to test the look and feel of each design option. I wanted to ensure I was picking the one I liked above all others. After the samples arrived, I spent two weeks studying the various options, trying to decide which one we'd use for our card this year. I changed my mind almost daily but finally made a decision. It was so hard to choose I almost opted to have two or three different versions go out - that might have been a little overkill, but it was so hard to pick just one. </span></span><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gREv6uHZDZA/Wh7LyC3gzuI/AAAAAAAAP-Q/T47Qqm4YvUoBS8ZZlCkRw6pXUpvmKF0pgCLcBGAs/s1600/More_Than_Just_A_Basic_Invite.jpg"><img alt="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="825" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-gREv6uHZDZA/Wh7LyC3gzuI/AAAAAAAAP-Q/T47Qqm4YvUoBS8ZZlCkRw6pXUpvmKF0pgCLcBGAs/s640/More_Than_Just_A_Basic_Invite.jpg" title="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." width="330" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></span><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2208-69eb-2798-bb115f1003fd"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Basic Invite offers so much more than their name implies. They have almost unlimited color options, custom samples, over 40 different colored envelopes, they have an address capturing service, so you don't have to handwrite the recipient's address on each piece of mail, and over 250 Christmas and holiday card designs, many of which include foil options.</span></span><br /><span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></span><span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></span><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EMHAOQhqobM/Wh76WG6_KiI/AAAAAAAAQAA/7ltygjuqjlkDmnmTe4XJe9nd_yxL-1ssgCLcBGAs/s1600/why_basic_invite.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EMHAOQhqobM/Wh76WG6_KiI/AAAAAAAAQAA/7ltygjuqjlkDmnmTe4XJe9nd_yxL-1ssgCLcBGAs/s640/why_basic_invite.jpg" title="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." width="640" /></a></div><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VejV3_1Dpm0/Wh7tBFiVvdI/AAAAAAAAP_Y/Avr9hHroCXITu77l7TUQv73sZtHaGcjKgCEwYBhgL/s1600/Basic_Invite_Peace.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VejV3_1Dpm0/Wh7tBFiVvdI/AAAAAAAAP_Y/Avr9hHroCXITu77l7TUQv73sZtHaGcjKgCEwYBhgL/s640/Basic_Invite_Peace.jpg" title="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2208-a14a-ceda-65183a365ca1"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">During the most magical time of the year, you may need cards for more than merely reaching out to loved ones with a pleasant, "hello." Holiday parties and gatherings add a touch of sparkle to the season, and if you're in charge of planning the office holiday party, you likely need </span><a href="https://www.basicinvite.com/events/party-invitations/holiday-party-invitations.html" style="text-decoration-line: none;"><span style="color: #1155cc; font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; text-decoration-line: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">holiday party invitations for work</span></a><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. Basic Invite has a prolific selection of gorgeous holiday cards available, so you'll be able to impress your boss and your guests when they open the invitation. If holiday office parties aren't your thing but you consider yourself the "hostess-with-the-mostest" then alert your potential guests of an upcoming Christmas party by using a Christmas party invitation template customized to fit your style and flare. Whatever your event may be this holiday season, Basic Invite has a solution perfect for you. </span></span></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tVnYTb0uKIY/Wh7uEtjQ4iI/AAAAAAAAP_k/zn23Q5CXO_kkacho8EzDABW72amvskOoQCLcBGAs/s1600/basic_invite_wood.jpg"><img alt="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tVnYTb0uKIY/Wh7uEtjQ4iI/AAAAAAAAP_k/zn23Q5CXO_kkacho8EzDABW72amvskOoQCLcBGAs/s640/basic_invite_wood.jpg" title="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." width="480" /></a></div><br /><span id="docs-internal-guid-385241b1-2208-eedc-9ccc-656da56f6b0a"><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you are like me and just now starting to gear up for the Holidays, there's no need to worry. Basic Invite has everything you need to fill the hearts and mailboxes of those you love. Plus, right now Basic Invite is offering my readers a 30% off with coupon code: holi30 </span></span><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YfdnhtTAyz0/Wh7x_K_Q7rI/AAAAAAAAP_w/N4jk8UxXw7ghfhf1wYoZmUAof0WWkrtxACLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1633.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YfdnhtTAyz0/Wh7x_K_Q7rI/AAAAAAAAP_w/N4jk8UxXw7ghfhf1wYoZmUAof0WWkrtxACLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1633.jpg" title="More than just a basic invite - these holiday cards are perfect for personal Christmas cards, office holiday cards, or invitations to your personal cookie swap." width="480" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 14.6667px; white-space: pre-wrap;">Which one of these beautiful Christmas card options would you have picked? I guess you'll just have to check your mailbox to see what one won!</span><br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-13259476069041933902017-11-27T07:05:00.000-05:002017-11-27T11:25:54.190-05:00Car Seat Safety with Cars.com<div style="text-align: center;"><i>This is a sponsored post for which I have received compensation. All opinions are my own.&nbsp;&nbsp;</i><br /><i><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: left;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-euKNT1WKynM/WhuGm92tbwI/AAAAAAAAP74/1Z-PnzYUARkwFAFuiP40rb1BaPZiTI5KgCEwYBhgL/s1600/Car_seat-Safety_cars_dot_com.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Cars.com is a great source of information for parents interested in learning about car seat safety." border="0" data-original-height="780" data-original-width="1170" height="426" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-euKNT1WKynM/WhuGm92tbwI/AAAAAAAAP74/1Z-PnzYUARkwFAFuiP40rb1BaPZiTI5KgCEwYBhgL/s640/Car_seat-Safety_cars_dot_com.jpg" title="Cars.com is a great source of information for parents interested in learning about car seat safety." width="640" /></a></div><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">I sat next to the sliding glass doors and waited for my husband to drive around the corner so he could wheel my two-week-old son and me out to the car. After 13 long days in the NICU, days filled with tears of both joy and pain, we were headed home with our first son. Our joyful hearts were overcome with anxiousness when we realized that the hour-long drive required skillful maneuvering along two of the nation's busiest interstates during the peak of rush hour. Needless to say, we cruised home at a tortious's pace and with the utmost vigilance.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">Before loading our itty-bitty, five-pound baby into the backseat, we check, double-checked, and triple checked that his car seat was installed correctly. For new parents like ourselves at the time, the straps, harnesses, pads, and buckles all standard on a car seat, can seem like a feat only an engineering professional can tackle. Thankfully, now&nbsp;<a href="http://cars.com/">cars.com</a> offers advice and guidance&nbsp;for car seat installation, so there is no need to worry about whether or not it is set up correctly. In fact, Cars.com even has three certified child passenger safety technicians who install and write their Car Seat Checks.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Bmy0znphP-k/WhuNW8rvmqI/AAAAAAAAP8U/D7YaZw8f_a4ic56hWUE_hQ7A6jYx2GLOACLcBGAs/s1600/car_seat_safety.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="When we brought my son home from the NICU I was grateful to know his car seat was safely and correctly installed. Cars.com is a great resource for parents needing to understand the ins and outs of car seat safety. " border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="832" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Bmy0znphP-k/WhuNW8rvmqI/AAAAAAAAP8U/D7YaZw8f_a4ic56hWUE_hQ7A6jYx2GLOACLcBGAs/s640/car_seat_safety.jpg" title="When we brought my son home from the NICU I was grateful to know his car seat was safely and correctly installed. Cars.com is a great resource for parents needing to understand the ins and outs of car seat safety. " width="332" /></a></div><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">Shortly after having my first son, my husband and I went to purchase a new vehicle for our family. My small, two-door Honda Civic, while reliable was not car-seat&nbsp;friendly and we needed something to accommodate&nbsp;our growing family. I only wish at the time I was aware that Cars.com does a comprehensive evaluation of brand new cars and compiles a list of those which received all A's in their&nbsp;car seat checks. The list is referred to as the <a href="https://www.cars.com/articles/carscoms-2017-car-seat-check-honor-roll-1420697098796/">Cars.com's Car Seat Honor Roll</a>. The review includes an evaluation of the vehicle's latch system, its performance with an infant, rear-facing convertible, forward-facing convertible, and booster car seat, and its third-row access performance (if applicable).<br /><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">One of a parent's primary responsibilities is to see to the safety and protection of their children and the by correctly installing a car seat you have one less thing to worry about as you transport your most precious cargo.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div>Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-67901663171321782762017-11-17T12:47:00.000-05:002017-11-17T14:04:34.352-05:00Nourished by Lia Huber - Book Review <i>Disclosure:&nbsp;</i><i>I received&nbsp;a free copy of&nbsp;Nourished by Lia Huber from the program "<a href="http://www.bloggingforbooks.com/">Blogging For Books"</a> in exchange for an honest review.&nbsp;</i><i>Some of the links in this book review </i><i>post are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase but it comes at no expense to you.&nbsp;</i><br /><i><br /></i><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-n9BL8r6tf6E/Wg8bCNGjQiI/AAAAAAAAP5o/q8M38ukSxnAfp1XrRJxBrDToU5aNvNtjwCLcBGAs/s1600/Nourished_cover.jpeg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith &amp; Enduring Love (with Recipes)" border="0" data-original-height="450" data-original-width="298" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-n9BL8r6tf6E/Wg8bCNGjQiI/AAAAAAAAP5o/q8M38ukSxnAfp1XrRJxBrDToU5aNvNtjwCLcBGAs/s320/Nourished_cover.jpeg" title="A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith &amp; Enduring Love (with Recipes)" width="211" /></a></div><br />I love to read cookbooks, it's one of my life's greatest pleasures, and it's how I relax. When I flipped open <a href="http://amzn.to/2ySD8sq">Nourished by Lia Huber</a>, I was expecting a cookbook with some personal stories attached to each recipe, but it was the exact opposite. It is a memoir with a couple recipes included.<br /><br />Now before I delve&nbsp;further into my review, I should alert you that I recently traveled to <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/02/how-guatemala-taught-me-to-really-love.html">Guatemala on a mission trip</a>. It was a life-changing&nbsp;experience and one I hold dear to my heart. So when the Prologue begins by describing a scene in Guatemala where the primary language is Kaqchikel (the indigenous&nbsp;dialect of the Mayan people and the primary language for many in Guatemala), I was shocked and immediately intrigued. I started reading hungrily, both for the story and the recipes.<br /><br />The story follows the adult life of author Lia Huber and in four parts tells of her adventures through illness, finding faith, becoming a mother, and discovering how food can truly nourish mind, body, and soul. Lia is an unlikely but accomplished food writer, entrepreneur, and recipe developer. Flipping through the pages I learned of Lia's wanderlust spirit, her thirst for meaning in life, and her craving to somehow leave a mark on the world - many of the traits I too meditate and pray about&nbsp;regularly. I could relate in many ways to Lia's story, and she was able to transport me to places I've never been because she is a beautiful wordsmith. I truly enjoyed her elegant descriptions of the foods which sustained and excited her and I&nbsp;appreciated the shared recipes at the end of each chapter.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SXwZZRn-60o/Wg8f7ZMB1cI/AAAAAAAAP54/M8JOLMNppWkcjeDSRJ6Xutt3k6K79FDzwCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1788.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith &amp; Enduring Love (with Recipes)" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SXwZZRn-60o/Wg8f7ZMB1cI/AAAAAAAAP54/M8JOLMNppWkcjeDSRJ6Xutt3k6K79FDzwCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1788.JPG" title="A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith &amp; Enduring Love (with Recipes)" width="480" /></a></div><br />I found the memoir to be a lot like my blog since it focuses on the struggles of motherhood while finding meaning outside the home, how faith has changed and sharped her perspective, and the necessity to remove yourself from comfort zones to experience richness in life. All beautiful and relatable things, but perhaps a little lengthy for a memoir; the hardbound book is over 300 pages long. I can certainly see the value of Lia sharing her personal story and unselfishly giving readers a glimpse into her genuine struggles, however; I lacked a connection to her character, even though the book was all about her. There were several times people were introduced but with little to no background and I&nbsp;found myself lost in a sea of unknown characters, which was slightly disorienting.<br /><br />After finishing and reflecting on the book, I think the message is there, and clearly, Lia is a talented writer, but overall this one missed the mark for me, and I <i>really</i> wanted to love it. I think if I met Lia&nbsp; I would have so much to chat with her about ranging from the adoption of her daughter from Guatemala and her continued work in that region of the world, her passion for healthy eating and how food can revitalize your body, and her faith walk and her unwavering commitment to discern God's will in all her decisions, but when it comes to the book I am less enthused. Overall I give this book 3.5/5 stars.<br /><br />If you liked the book <a href="http://amzn.to/2AYKvQz">Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia</a> then this book will be right up your alley since it follows several of the same themes.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_WyFuyIl4Q0/Wg8WgThH_hI/AAAAAAAAP5c/TNZvmHTKxyoI8eVrE5OZTFDwXxlrKN1SwCLcBGAs/s1600/Nourished_Lia_Huber.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith &amp; Enduring Love (with Recipes)" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="751" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_WyFuyIl4Q0/Wg8WgThH_hI/AAAAAAAAP5c/TNZvmHTKxyoI8eVrE5OZTFDwXxlrKN1SwCLcBGAs/s640/Nourished_Lia_Huber.jpg" title="A book review of Lia Huber's book Nourished A memoir of Food, Faith &amp; Enduring Love (with Recipes)" width="300" /></a></div><i><br /></i> What are some of your favorite books from 2017? Have you started planning your reading list for next year? If you are on Goodreads, I'd love to connect with you. You can find my profile <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/Evrydythoughts">here</a>.<br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-29552595395655898602017-11-13T11:00:00.001-05:002017-11-13T11:00:55.449-05:00Twice Baked Sweet Potato Recipe<div style="text-align: center;"><div style="text-align: center;">Twice Baked Sweet Potato Recipe</div></div><div itemscope="" itemtype="http://schema.org/Recipe"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MbgjaO32hTQ/WgmvCRHcyqI/AAAAAAAAP34/dNHSPoBOgZA3VJBfsuJV_ZDkzLSWobyjQCLcBGAs/s1600/Twice_baked_sweet_potato.png" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week." border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MbgjaO32hTQ/WgmvCRHcyqI/AAAAAAAAP34/dNHSPoBOgZA3VJBfsuJV_ZDkzLSWobyjQCLcBGAs/s640/Twice_baked_sweet_potato.png" title="This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week." width="640" /></a></div><br />This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week.<br /><br />This Thanksgiving will be the first time I'm hosting out of town family. Of course, the images of a Norman-Rockwell-style holiday are dancing through my head, but I'm also trying to be realistic about my expectations. The fact that we'll have 3 little ones under the age of 4 years old in our company means anything can happen.<br /><br />In my&nbsp;opinion, there are just some things that need to be on the table for Thanksgiving. After the <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2013/06/crockpot-turkey.html">turkey</a>;&nbsp;mash potatoes, pumpkin pie, canned cranberries, and green bean casserole&nbsp;are must-haves. Not to be forgotten, are the sweet potatoes. The delicious sweetness intensified with brown sugar, cinnamon, and copious amounts of butter make my mouth water just thinking about them. But sweet potatoes seem to be polarizing - people love them or hate them. You obviously know where I stand, but my husband would be fine if he never laid eyes on them for the rest of his life.<br /><br />To make sure everyone gets what they want this year I'm going to be making a modified version of Sweet Potato Casserole&nbsp;with this Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sDP_t4vCe2A/Wgm8jyKaR4I/AAAAAAAAP4M/Hp0YSuEMWAAA7aRlaNrbMEztCi0KEgtjQCLcBGAs/s1600/5290DF4D-9602-4547-A158-A57EA58B6565.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week." border="0" data-original-height="1198" data-original-width="1600" height="478" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sDP_t4vCe2A/Wgm8jyKaR4I/AAAAAAAAP4M/Hp0YSuEMWAAA7aRlaNrbMEztCi0KEgtjQCLcBGAs/s640/5290DF4D-9602-4547-A158-A57EA58B6565.JPG" title="This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week." width="640" /></a></div><br />Prep Time: 20 minutes<br />Cook time: 55 minutes&nbsp;+ 20 minutes<br />Yield: 2 large servings<br /><b><br /></b> <b>Ingredients:&nbsp;</b><br />2 large sweet potatoes<br />2 TBS butter<br />1 TBS whole milk<br />1 tsp cinnamon<br />1 TBS brown sugar<br />1/4 C pecans, finely chopped<br /><br /><b>Preparation Instructions:</b><br />Scrub the outsides of the potatoes&nbsp;thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 55 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.<br /><br />Change oven to 350 degrees. Let potatoes cool for five minutes. Cut an oval shape out of the top of each potato and peel back the skin. Carefully scope out potato filling, leaving plenty of room along the edges to ensure you do not accidentally&nbsp;pierce the outer edges. Put the potato filling in&nbsp;a large bowl and with a mixer combine it with the butter, whole milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar.<br /><br /> Once the mixture is whipped and well incorporated, scoop it into each of the potatoes. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and put back into the oven for 20 minutes to continue cooking.<br /><br /> Remove and allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.<br /><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GnyIQLehQzE/Wgm_PDOZauI/AAAAAAAAP4Y/F87RkPghIU0n9QbLEIjmKp5gem6HgaUZgCLcBGAs/s1600/Twice_baked_sweet_potatoes.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="924" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GnyIQLehQzE/Wgm_PDOZauI/AAAAAAAAP4Y/F87RkPghIU0n9QbLEIjmKp5gem6HgaUZgCLcBGAs/s640/Twice_baked_sweet_potatoes.jpg" title="This Twice Baked Sweet Potato recipe is a unique, single-serving twist on sweet potato casserole. It is perfect for a Thanksgiving or holiday meal or for those times when you want to jazz up your plate during the week." width="368" /></a></div><br /></div><ul></ul>Do you love or hate sweet potatoes? What are some Thanksgiving must-haves that you are looking forward to this year?<br /><br />If you're hosting guests this year, don't stress about the turkey. Try this super simple <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2013/06/crockpot-turkey.html">crockpot turkey recipe</a>.<br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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Butter Spider Cookie Recipe&nbsp;</i><i>post are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase but it comes at no expense to you.&nbsp;</i><br /><i><br /></i><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2BXaUP-7v54/We-UNKVtCtI/AAAAAAAAPzo/XHKwfzOh-ekkGNrGLpFEsGoPxmmjR8SKACLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1405.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat" border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2BXaUP-7v54/We-UNKVtCtI/AAAAAAAAPzo/XHKwfzOh-ekkGNrGLpFEsGoPxmmjR8SKACLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1405.JPG" title="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat" width="640" /></a></div><br />It is year one of preschool, and we&nbsp;have already commenced&nbsp;with the borage of after-school activities, field trips, and parent-sponsored party favors. I'd like to complain about the added responsibilities, but the truth is I kind of love it. I love hearing about my kid's school day when they clamor into my car after the final bell rings. I love organizing their school papers and making sure their schedules&nbsp;are carefully noted on the family calendar each month. I love waking up before my little ones to meticulously pack their lunch each morning. I honestly love it all, and I'm trying to fully embrace this stage of their life. I love supporting my kids and watching their imaginations and personalities bloom right in front of my&nbsp;awestruck eyes.<br /><br />They are each growing so fast and every morning dawns with a new discovery; one of them might learn to say a new word, and the other one is suddenly spelling it. All the while, I'm sitting in the background watching these beautiful little blessings become acquainted&nbsp;with the world and find their place among it. I'm grateful for the opportunities when I get a glimpse into their school life, since it is the part of their&nbsp;day in which I normally do not&nbsp;get to participate. This upcoming week my little guys have a costume parade, and the teachers reached out to the parents for cookies for a banquet after the ceremony of superheroes and princesses. Of course, I'm on board! I put together these fun Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookies, and they were a huge hit with the kiddos.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0Wik8cChCqA/We-UT9N21iI/AAAAAAAAPzs/P5wZGdSe6q8RSU-hA6pDkcrW-R0O3e9pwCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_1407.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0Wik8cChCqA/We-UT9N21iI/AAAAAAAAPzs/P5wZGdSe6q8RSU-hA6pDkcrW-R0O3e9pwCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_1407.JPG" title="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat" width="480" /></a></div><br /><b>Ingredients:&nbsp;</b><br />1 cup of creamy peanut butter<br />1 cup of sugar<br />1 egg<br />1 tsp vanilla<br />24 <a href="http://amzn.to/2lfkfxG">mini REESE's peanut butter&nbsp;cups</a><br />48 <a href="http://amzn.to/2yK9B5b">candy eyes</a><br /><a href="http://amzn.to/2h5f2nC">black decorating gel</a> or frosting<br /><br /><b>Preparation Instructions:&nbsp;</b><br />Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.<br /><br />In a large bowl cream the peanut butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and egg and incorporate thoroughly.<br /><br />Roll the mixture into 1-1/4 inch balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are slightly cracked. Immediately after removing the cookies from oven put the REESE'S peanut butter cups on top and then transfer the cookies to wire rack to cool.<br /><br />After the cookies are completely cooled, add four black lines to each of the sides of the candy to represent the spider's legs. Then use two small drops of frosting as glue for the eyes.<br /><br />This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3gCr0PtGk5M/We_COx7XMOI/AAAAAAAAP0E/1t8PLkady0kNE8NhgtCCiCD28hjD8Ak2ACLcBGAs/s1600/double_peanut_butter_spider_cookie.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3gCr0PtGk5M/We_COx7XMOI/AAAAAAAAP0E/1t8PLkady0kNE8NhgtCCiCD28hjD8Ak2ACLcBGAs/s640/double_peanut_butter_spider_cookie.jpg" title="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookie Recipe - the perfect Halloween cookie treat" width="480" /></a></div><br />Check out more great family-friendly recipes <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/p/recipes.html">here</a>, including one for a <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2013/06/crockpot-turkey.html">Crockpot Turkey</a> that will help you save your time and sanity on Thanksgiving.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0x1TYRYKpiI/We_CItcDjcI/AAAAAAAAP0A/Es-mNye4OHEN-ofkwKWWizlp96tgZK1wQCLcBGAs/s1600/Double_Peanut_Butter_Spider_Cookies.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookies are the perfect family-friendly Halloween cookie treat" border="0" data-original-height="527" data-original-width="238" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0x1TYRYKpiI/We_CItcDjcI/AAAAAAAAP0A/Es-mNye4OHEN-ofkwKWWizlp96tgZK1wQCLcBGAs/s640/Double_Peanut_Butter_Spider_Cookies.jpg" title="Double Peanut Butter Spider Cookies are the perfect family-friendly Halloween cookie treat" width="288" /></a></div><br />What is your favorite Halloween inspired treat?<br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: 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this&nbsp;Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup&nbsp;</i><i>recipe post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase but it comes at no expense to you.&nbsp;</i><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-emsegQFhFvA/Wcr8hTyfdyI/AAAAAAAAOzg/bfZw7N_GFGodFLot9j-jAoklomLkhmn_QCLcBGAs/s1600/Bacon_and_Pimento_Cheese_Burger_Rollup.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img alt="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup" border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-emsegQFhFvA/Wcr8hTyfdyI/AAAAAAAAOzg/bfZw7N_GFGodFLot9j-jAoklomLkhmn_QCLcBGAs/s640/Bacon_and_Pimento_Cheese_Burger_Rollup.JPG" title="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup" width="640" /></a></div><br /><br />Game-day food is mandatory at my house for several reasons including:<br /><br /><ol><li>we watch a lot of football games, and we&nbsp;need appropriate menu options to enhance the game watching experience, like this <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/05/crockpot-hot-wing-dip.html">Crockpot Hot Wing Dip</a>;</li><li>&nbsp;my little ones are always on the go, so we need easy, grab-and-go options to fill hungry tummies as we journey from one activity to the next; finally,</li><li>since my kids have smaller appetites, bite-sized meals allow me to feed them a full meal with very little waste or leftovers.&nbsp;</li></ol><div>I was recently visiting a fantastic Atlanta restaurant just outside the perimeter called <a href="http://www.ujlawrenceville.com/">Universal Joint</a>. They are best known for their delicious burgers and I&nbsp;tried one called The Steinbeck. It is made with pimento cheese, bacon, and jalapenos and to say it was mouth&nbsp;water would be an understatement (seriously look at the picture below and tell me you're not drooling). Mine was served without the without the peppers, but if I could have handled the heat, I know they would have been the perfect accompaniment to this succulent burger. I left the restaurant, and for days I was dreaming about the burger. I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to remaster The Steinbeck into a family-friendly game day recipe, and thus the Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup was born.</div><br /><br /><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FVUbka2-4ZI/WeYdFp3XaFI/AAAAAAAAPxw/eNZrLCDL64c8ivAR2zobENT5KRKVWz3wwCLcBGAs/s1600/Universal_Joint_The_Steinbeck_Burger.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img alt="The Universal Joint - The Steinbeck Burger - Pimento Cheese, Bacon and Jalapeno Peppers" border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FVUbka2-4ZI/WeYdFp3XaFI/AAAAAAAAPxw/eNZrLCDL64c8ivAR2zobENT5KRKVWz3wwCLcBGAs/s640/Universal_Joint_The_Steinbeck_Burger.JPG" title="The Universal Joint - The Steinbeck Burger - Pimento Cheese, Bacon and Jalapeno Peppers" width="640" /></a><br /><br /><b>Ingredients:&nbsp;</b><br />Pizza dough for 1 pizza - I use Pillsbury Pizza Crust<br />1/2 lb of ground beef, browned<br />1/4 cup of finely chopped onion<br />Jalapeno peppers, diced to accommodate&nbsp;your tastes (I leave them off when serving my kids)<br />1 TBS burger seasoning. I use <a href="http://amzn.to/2yMjhiu">Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning</a><br />1/2 cup of pimento cheese<br />6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped<br /><br /><b>Preparation Instructions:&nbsp;</b><br />On an ungreased cookie&nbsp;sheet spread out the pizza dough. Use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch the dough out as much as you can without creating holes; all the while, keeping the dough within the boundaries off the cookie sheet.<br /><br />Preheat oven to&nbsp;350 degrees.<br /><br />In a hot skillet, brown the ground beef and drain. Return the meat to the skillet and add the burger seasoning, cook an&nbsp;additional&nbsp;1-2 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and add the onions and jalapenos to the meat mixture, stir. I do not add peppers when I make this for the kids, but you can customize this to your family's tastes.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y3zzypS4Dm0/WeYm-lXxJkI/AAAAAAAAPx8/9ZhzlYU0S9omLZWWCppZPAZJ9z7Q1qtTgCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_0631.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup Ingredients" border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-y3zzypS4Dm0/WeYm-lXxJkI/AAAAAAAAPx8/9ZhzlYU0S9omLZWWCppZPAZJ9z7Q1qtTgCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_0631.JPG" title="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup Ingredients" width="640" /></a></div><br />Next, spread the pimento cheese evenly onto the pizza dough, leaving approximately 1/4 inch space along all the edges. Sprinkle the meat mixture and then the bacon evenly on top of the cheese. Carefully, roll up the dough in a jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Pinch the seam to seal and tuck the ends under the rollup. Place the seam side down in the center of the baking sheet.<br /><br />With a sharp knife, cut four to five, 1/4-inch deep slits along the top of the loaf. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm with ketchup and mustard for dipping.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-I05JtjPUoHE/Wcr8hrzoDrI/AAAAAAAAOzo/AV4wGYiHA8oK0UN0nyUOXxIeRIYM8ah2QCLcBGAs/s1600/Bacon_and_Pimento_Cheese_Burger_Rollup_2.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup" border="0" data-original-height="1065" data-original-width="1600" height="424" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-I05JtjPUoHE/Wcr8hrzoDrI/AAAAAAAAOzo/AV4wGYiHA8oK0UN0nyUOXxIeRIYM8ah2QCLcBGAs/s640/Bacon_and_Pimento_Cheese_Burger_Rollup_2.JPG" title="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup" width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>This recipe quickly became a family favorite and a game-day menu must. I've made it several times since football season kicked off and my kids are always asking for "burger rollup" for dinner. In fact, my oldest said he wanted this served for his birthday!<br /><br />As the weather gets colder, this is an easy, comforting meal option that is taste-bud and family friendly. It's not fancy, but it sure brings back all the taste sensations of that delicious burger I had at Universal Joint.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-kCdWPVNSMa4/WeYcnxws-rI/AAAAAAAAPxs/tY7hviKG99ERlTUjfldEGQKSxbtgCvzpwCEwYBhgL/s1600/Bacon_Pimento_Cheese_Burger_Rollup_Recipe.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup Recipe" border="0" data-original-height="1128" data-original-width="737" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-kCdWPVNSMa4/WeYcnxws-rI/AAAAAAAAPxs/tY7hviKG99ERlTUjfldEGQKSxbtgCvzpwCEwYBhgL/s640/Bacon_Pimento_Cheese_Burger_Rollup_Recipe.jpg" title="Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger Rollup Recipe" width="416" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Have you ever been so inspired by a restaurant meal you've tried to recreate it or remaster it at home? If so, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Also, don't forget to enter to win the free <a href="https://www.smilebrilliant.com/">Smile Brilliant</a> at-home Teeth Whitening Kit giveaway <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/10/regaining-my-confidence-with-smile.html">here</a>.&nbsp;</div><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-2051827596211174352017-10-10T07:05:00.000-04:002017-10-10T15:49:46.235-04:00Regaining my Confidence with Smile Brilliant <div style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-66e7bab9-035b-1f88-1d6c-b248ffdf863a"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Disclosure: I received the Smile Brilliant Sensitive System for free in exchange for an honest review of the product. All opinions are my own.</span></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eC0DTGbHkU8/WdqEBnpJ0hI/AAAAAAAAPuY/44yzXkEoZvsmZtOSkjbWlN-WYD4MG_SHwCLcBGAs/s1600/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BTowel.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. " border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eC0DTGbHkU8/WdqEBnpJ0hI/AAAAAAAAPuY/44yzXkEoZvsmZtOSkjbWlN-WYD4MG_SHwCLcBGAs/s640/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BTowel.JPG" title="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. " width="480" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">If you had to identify your best physical feature what would it be? For me, it's my smile. Ever since I was young, I remember people complimenting my smile. I was blessed with very straight teeth, and I've&nbsp; never worn braces or even had a cavity. I take particular pride in my teeth, and I've never been afraid to wear my favorite accessory, a smile. That is until lately. After two kids, my coffee intake has increased over the years, and the stains it deposited on my teeth became more and more evident over time. I found myself almost ashamed of the evidence my need for caffeine was leaving on my (no-longer) pearly whites.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I love being a mother, and I'm proud of my body for producing two beautiful blessings, but I'm not immune to the pressures of motherhood and the longing to regain some of the confidence I had before children. Whitening my teeth was a great way for me to start feeling better about sharing my smile with the world again and regaining some of my confidence. To achieve whiter teeth I decided to try <a href="https://www.smilebrilliant.com/#everydaythoughts">Smile Brilliant</a>, a teeth whitening kit perfect for busy, coffee drinking moms like myself.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Smile Brilliant sends you everything you need to get the smile you've been longing for by shipping a box straight to your doorstep. Inside you'll find catalyst and base pastes to create custom molds of your teeth, plus whitening and be desensitizing gels which you'll use after your <a href="https://www.smilebrilliant.com/product/teeth-whitening-trays#everydaythoughts">custom fitted trays</a> arrive.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-enEDLt1w4bc/WdqPdMy8uHI/AAAAAAAAPvY/NjsjadWWZDIN39nHWyC3CICN6UfKCQRIgCEwYBhgL/s1600/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BProduct.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-enEDLt1w4bc/WdqPdMy8uHI/AAAAAAAAPvY/NjsjadWWZDIN39nHWyC3CICN6UfKCQRIgCEwYBhgL/s640/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BProduct.JPG" width="640" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eIGbRxsinjs/WdqYaKpZgnI/AAAAAAAAPvs/qlQ8Ty8y9lYQK9Gbl2noKkR4rXEKhs5aACLcBGAs/s1600/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BCustom%2BTrays.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. " border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eIGbRxsinjs/WdqYaKpZgnI/AAAAAAAAPvs/qlQ8Ty8y9lYQK9Gbl2noKkR4rXEKhs5aACLcBGAs/s640/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BCustom%2BTrays.jpg" title="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. " width="640" /></a></div><br /><span id="docs-internal-guid-66e7bab9-035c-d0b7-d7da-217004aed77d"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It was easy to incorporate Smile Brilliant into my day-to-day routine because each night during my kid's bathtime I'd wear my custom whitening trays. I'd merely apply the </span><a href="https://www.smilebrilliant.com/product/teeth-whitening-gel#everydaythoughts" style="text-decoration-line: none;"><span style="color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">whitening gel</span></a><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> along the sides of the trays and fit them into my mouth for a relaxed, comfortable fit.</span></span><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-43D8_D3pLmY/WdqAILfLOPI/AAAAAAAAPuM/DlaXa4tsLccov4YT24aixNseIq0GonxtwCEwYBhgL/s1600/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BGel%2Band%2BTray.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. " border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-43D8_D3pLmY/WdqAILfLOPI/AAAAAAAAPuM/DlaXa4tsLccov4YT24aixNseIq0GonxtwCEwYBhgL/s640/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BGel%2Band%2BTray.jpg" title="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. " width="640" /></a></div><br /><span id="docs-internal-guid-66e7bab9-035c-fd82-6e03-754850f8df36"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">After only a couple applications I started to notice a difference in the color of my teeth. The </span><a href="https://www.smilebrilliant.com/articles/foods-good-for-your-teeth#everydaythoughts" style="text-decoration-line: none;"><span style="color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">coffee stains</span></a><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> were disappearing little by little, and I was beginning to see my pre-baby smile emerge.</span></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oqJXpG6c7cw/WdqI3iXFHoI/AAAAAAAAPuo/WN5FYZKwfZAA3whuS4JGGsAWMVLl_j6qACLcBGAs/s1600/Smile_Brilliant_Before_After.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. These before and after pictures prove the teeth whitening system really works!" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1600" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oqJXpG6c7cw/WdqI3iXFHoI/AAAAAAAAPuo/WN5FYZKwfZAA3whuS4JGGsAWMVLl_j6qACLcBGAs/s400/Smile_Brilliant_Before_After.jpg" title="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. These before and after pictures prove the teeth whitening system really works!" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-66e7bab9-035d-2e4e-bae2-558337b21850"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I personally used the Sensitive Whitening System since I have slightly </span><a href="https://www.smilebrilliant.com/articles/tooth-sensitivity-causes-solutions-prevention#everydaythoughts" style="text-decoration-line: none;"><span style="color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">sensitive teeth</span></a><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. I whitened every 2-3 days due to a slight sensitivity on my gums, which is a normal side effect. A great way to combat sensitivity when using the Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening System is to add a layer of coconut oil or Vaseline to your gumline before you begin a </span><a href="https://www.smilebrilliant.com/teeth-whitening-facts#everydaythoughts" style="text-decoration-line: none;"><span style="color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">whitening</span></a><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> treatment. </span></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PWmy9AzimWM/WdqJ1rxAoaI/AAAAAAAAPu0/f_AQz6VefDkA_WHA8pOgIQR-hmoXgpe9wCEwYBhgL/s1600/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BHappy%2BBoys.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. " border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-PWmy9AzimWM/WdqJ1rxAoaI/AAAAAAAAPu0/f_AQz6VefDkA_WHA8pOgIQR-hmoXgpe9wCEwYBhgL/s640/Smile%2BBrilliant%2BHappy%2BBoys.JPG" title="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit." width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-66e7bab9-035d-7246-1885-991bff68041a"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I've been using Smile Brilliant for about three weeks now, and the results really do speak for themselves.</span></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-blGNKK3tvKg/WdqNNhPfjvI/AAAAAAAAPvE/BvQeC5dNSM88bPWd6Zjx9epSdf5iEuOMwCEwYBhgL/s1600/Smile_Brilliant_Before_After_2.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. These before and after pictures prove the teeth whitening system really works!" border="0" data-original-height="759" data-original-width="1600" height="302" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-blGNKK3tvKg/WdqNNhPfjvI/AAAAAAAAPvE/BvQeC5dNSM88bPWd6Zjx9epSdf5iEuOMwCEwYBhgL/s640/Smile_Brilliant_Before_After_2.jpg" title="I've regained my confidence and eliminated coffee teeth stains with Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening kit. These before and after pictures prove the teeth whitening system really works!" width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-66e7bab9-035d-ab6f-bca3-20463d4fcd1a"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you're an overly caffeinated, coffee-drinking mom like me and you're interested in boosting your confidence, try a Smile Brilliant Whitening Kit. You can save 10% off on your purchase by using promo code "everydaythoughts10". </span></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Smile Brilliant is also gracious enough to give one of my loyal readers a chance to win their own teeth whitening kit (worth $139) simply by clicking the link below.</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Click here to win &gt;&gt;&gt; <a href="http://www.smilebrilliant.com/g/everydaythoughts" style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 12px; text-size-adjust: auto; white-space: normal;">www.smilebrilliant.com/g/everydaythoughts</a><!-- SMILE BRILLIANT ARTICLE WIDGET START --><a href="https://www.blogger.com/null" id="smilebrilliant_widget_article" ishidden="1" title="Tooth Whitening Gel">Tooth Whitening Gel</a> Be Blessed,<br /></span></div><div><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></span></div><span style="font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-c7eSnUz247I/Wcu0WvdUiaI/AAAAAAAAOz8/Ve1s2TF8y9wQ3R1JQR7e9XTGG0Yx2nT8QCLcBGAs/s1600/Why_Im_kneeling.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Why I'm Kneeling and teaching my children to do the same - a parent's perspective on prioritizing raising God-fearing children. " border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-c7eSnUz247I/Wcu0WvdUiaI/AAAAAAAAOz8/Ve1s2TF8y9wQ3R1JQR7e9XTGG0Yx2nT8QCLcBGAs/s640/Why_Im_kneeling.jpg" title="Why I'm Kneeling and teaching my children to do the same - a parent's perspective on prioritizing raising God-fearing children. " width="640" /></a></div><br />If you are sick of hearing and reading about the wrongs and rights of activists kneeling during the National Anthem, keep reading. If you are undecided <i>or</i> firmly rooted in your ideas about our First Amendment rights and how they are expressed before, during, or after the playing of a&nbsp;song that represents our country, I beg you to stick with me. If you think there are too many voices screaming too many messages without a sympathetic&nbsp;ear listening to their left- or right-wing counterparts, then you are in the right place, because while I certainly have an opinion on the political climate in our country, I'm not about to share it. I'm not afraid to express my opinion,&nbsp;but I made my stand when <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/11/the-votes-are-in.html">I went to the polls last&nbsp;November</a>, and until the next election, I'll be kneeling, in my home and in my church, and anywhere where God's grace is needed.<br /><div><br /></div><div>Aside, from First&nbsp;Amendment&nbsp;Rights, we also all have an opportunity to express our opinion on the second Tuesday, after the first Monday of November, every four years. In between those years, it's up to each individual to advocate for their side in whatever manner they deem appropriate to win the wavering hearts of onlookers or sway their&nbsp;adversaries. I'm taking an active stance, I have a lot to say, and I'm doing it through action rather than expressing my&nbsp;opinions. I'm doing it by teaching my children to kneel before their Heavenly Father and pray. I'm teaching these little minds and tiny hearts how to love their neighbors, how to care for the disenfranchised and poor, how to comfort those who need comforting, and remember the forgotten. Most of all I'm trying to teach them that the most important thing you can&nbsp;kneel in front of is the Cross. My action and commitment to my cause starts&nbsp;within my home, with children.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>I am growing where I'm planted, and right now I'm called to be a guiding light for two inquisitive minds with whom I share a roof. God has entrusted me to teach them the virtues of love, hope, faith, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, charity, and fortitude. I'm not a perfect mom, and I'm not teaching my children perfectly; I'm doing the best I can with the time and resources available to me. I am not bothered by men and women sitting, kneeling or standing. Peaceful protests are an incredible privilege&nbsp;to us as American citizens.&nbsp;</div><div><br /></div><div>I don't feel the need to fill your Facebook wall or your Twitter feed with posts and think they will change your mind. You're smarter than that and far too educated to be swayed by 140 characters. Plus, I'm too busy trying to change the hearts and minds of my tiny prayer warriors. The greatest gift I can give this world is two faithful, honest, pragmatic, and educated children with their own opinions and the ingenuity to make their voices matter. Children&nbsp;who know Their Father has abundantly blessed them with the right to <b>stand</b> for those who cannot stand for themselves and <b>kneel</b> for their Savior and any cause they believe worthy of their prayers.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5q-6IXUsD8g/Wcu226qfq-I/AAAAAAAAO0I/o63uN5jA1eoI_tzQAjlWfKnCcmAih-6MgCLcBGAs/s1600/why_im_kneeling_Pin.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Why I'm Kneeling and teaching my children to do the same - a parent's perspective on prioritizing raising God-fearing children. " border="0" data-original-height="1290" data-original-width="600" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5q-6IXUsD8g/Wcu226qfq-I/AAAAAAAAO0I/o63uN5jA1eoI_tzQAjlWfKnCcmAih-6MgCLcBGAs/s640/why_im_kneeling_Pin.jpg" title="Why I'm Kneeling and teaching my children to do the same - a parent's perspective on prioritizing raising God-fearing children. " width="296" /></a></div><br /></div><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a href="https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/everyday-thoughts-3740723"><img alt="Follow Me On Bloglovin" 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white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;Century Gothic&quot;, &quot;Open Sans Condensed&quot;, &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px; line-height: normal;">Disclosure: I received the KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush for free in exchange for an honest review of the product. All opinions are my own.</i></div><div style="text-align: center;"><i style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;Century Gothic&quot;, &quot;Open Sans Condensed&quot;, &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px; line-height: normal;"><br /></i></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;">It always happens sometime between serving them breakfast and their morning playtime. I start to hear squeals as both of my children become anxious about one of their favorite&nbsp;and most anticipated activities of the day. Their little feet start to swing&nbsp;frantically forward and backward from their perch high on their bar height chairs and my youngest starts repeatedly asking to "brush his teeth" in a language only the mother of a two-year-old&nbsp;can actually understand.&nbsp;</span></span></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span></span></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;">I don't know where their love of minty-fresh breath and glistening pearly whites comes from, but as a mom, I'm certainly not complaining.&nbsp;</span></span><br /><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0jX1RoGJofg/WcK3UG920II/AAAAAAAAOyY/Xkdx54SYN_4BT17hAm1bemkW1V8Qsq6ngCLcBGAs/s1600/kidzStuff_Super_Powers_3X_Toothbrush_and_kid.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0jX1RoGJofg/WcK3UG920II/AAAAAAAAOyY/Xkdx54SYN_4BT17hAm1bemkW1V8Qsq6ngCLcBGAs/s640/kidzStuff_Super_Powers_3X_Toothbrush_and_kid.JPG" title="KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind" width="480" /></a></div></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span></span></div><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;">Recently, we had the opportunity to make brushing teeth a little more exciting for my oldest. We tried a revolutionary new toothbrush which not only makes it easier for my four-year-old to brush his teeth but it also ensures he is getting all those hard-to-reach places <i>and</i>&nbsp;it cuts down on how long it takes to complete the job. The <a href="https://www.shopkidzstuff.com/product/super-powers-3x-toothbrush/" rel="nofollow">KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush</a> is a uniquely&nbsp;designed toothbrush with a three-sided head, meaning in one stroke it simultaneously brushes the child's teeth in the front, the back, and on the top. The shape&nbsp;of the brush aligns with the natural shape of the mouth, and it easily&nbsp;fits and glides across teeth.&nbsp;</span></span><br /><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UdjpOzkwGSA/WcFWQ7RIkcI/AAAAAAAAOyE/X8LTGSNVlkAGkszjI5WhRAjdLuCX_zOhgCLcBGAs/s1600/kidzStuff_Super_Powers_3X_Toothbrush%2B.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind" border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UdjpOzkwGSA/WcFWQ7RIkcI/AAAAAAAAOyE/X8LTGSNVlkAGkszjI5WhRAjdLuCX_zOhgCLcBGAs/s640/kidzStuff_Super_Powers_3X_Toothbrush%2B.JPG" title="KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind" width="640" /></a></div><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span></span> <span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;">Designed by a pediatric dentist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, the&nbsp;</span></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;">KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush is now my preferred toothbrush option for my children for its practicality and ease of use. It is intended for children 3-years-old and up, and it comes in two sizes; medium and large. My four-year-old used the medium size, and I&nbsp;think it's a great fit for his size and age.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span> <span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;">Here is a quick breakdown of some of the pros and cons of the&nbsp;</span><span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;">KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush:</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span> <span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="background-color: white; font-size: 15.4px;"><b>Pros:</b></span></span><br /><br /><ul><li><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;">Ergonomic design makes brushing kid's teeth easier than ever regardless if they need assistance or if they can brush on their own;</span></span></li><li><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;">it cuts back on the amount of time it takes each morning to brush;&nbsp;</span></span></li><li><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;">the three-headed&nbsp;brush ensures children clean all those hard-to-reach places; and</span></span></li><li><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;">it will soon be available at select Publix Pharmacies.&nbsp;</span></span></li></ul><div><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;"><b>Cons:</b></span></span></div><div><ul><li><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;">it comes in limited colors and designs, and&nbsp;</span></span></li><li><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;">the three-headed brush fits molars perfectly but takes a little more maneuvering around the incisors and canines.&nbsp;</span></span></li></ul><div><span style="color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: 15.4px;">If you want to see some of our first impressions check out our Facebook Live video and demo <a href="https://www.facebook.com/everydaythoughtsbybrittany/videos/1572668096118171/">here</a>.</span></span></div></div><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-L6V3MynkQJQ/WcK2-bIADfI/AAAAAAAAOyU/JuMFZhexBRcxWJjrIrfvFBfWlrVefkxzgCLcBGAs/s1600/Review_Super_Powers_3X_Toothbrush.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="950" height="640" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-L6V3MynkQJQ/WcK2-bIADfI/AAAAAAAAOyU/JuMFZhexBRcxWJjrIrfvFBfWlrVefkxzgCLcBGAs/s640/Review_Super_Powers_3X_Toothbrush.jpg" title="KidzStuff Super Powers 3X Toothbrush Review - a revolutionary new toothbrush designed by a pediatric dentist, with kids in mind" width="380" /></a></div><span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span> <span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;">What are some of your favorite tools, tips, and tricks for making brushing teeth fun for your little ones?</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #707070; font-family: &quot;century gothic&quot; , &quot;open sans condensed&quot; , &quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , &quot;verdana&quot; , sans-serif; font-size: 15.4px;"><br /></span></div>Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/SPvlksAxl5y4wc_LnwwfFPJzC2b_htntmg4cLDTfvIviG1skVj8RN7wB6YU5Uqn00bm2l3dHzh9fOpTaRZu9VnNsgiDqBRsOr60JsCnr4m-8US02CCcyYS9ZBtf2TVtuyFntiv_Do8w-ilvirTOkFmgrMV-hW5cpW5MKQ4Y1RFUDCXJe3t0QNKn6V41ALNTtWEhAwfG_7TCNMQ3c4KLiO5CjBGbhVNVi4fPsEACK3IJWFZHkZXDD5ikuqnmsugmZ597xXgyxngXYy1076T8qDnr6f-9lxCPIfk9PAOeRaeLd0LrtRL1pDUsRPlya9cg5CDyHJh1saDE3CGzVY2q6qMHuMcFVQiLwCeLh-_8mw3dEP3NomyrmTuSS7H_u5AP8ZqNi-UCaIkHe1XAxHm893X-R6gzr-vFIW6wJeaixfPBN6xpMcmbL_oxoa5jvomOieZ5wRwDagHvxOgpndsJJQPZpskKIsozM4aGcPUNcvKzLdbowTWJu03qIffaHA7KzfEXe19Z5fBePSF0EGWpsoIqWRX4rrA5drxq-KYn_VydaULOUNCbB4Btm2MTX6z74o_Kz0UwBRC-gEy4KPmVJ_LEcbhXLBvk1Nm92_-J7gpGjEw=s33-no" width="33" /></a></span>Brittany Fhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/05891733322304725224noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-61836257825840221.post-62743686359828644932017-09-11T07:05:00.000-04:002017-09-11T07:05:15.734-04:00A Parent's Guide to Cooking with Kids<i style="text-align: center;">Disclosure: Some of the links in this post,&nbsp;</i><i style="text-align: center;">A Parent's Guide to Cooking with Kids,</i><i style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase but it comes at no cost to you.</i><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rmVKTpEmy-w/WbX6BzUHPTI/AAAAAAAAOwU/pjrKxR-nBn0QmLeeN3rs-lWhp1jUPociwCEwYBhgL/s1600/Parent%2527s%2BGuide%2BCooking%2Bwith%2BKids.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Parent's Guide to Cooking with Kids" border="0" data-original-height="628" data-original-width="1200" height="334" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rmVKTpEmy-w/WbX6BzUHPTI/AAAAAAAAOwU/pjrKxR-nBn0QmLeeN3rs-lWhp1jUPociwCEwYBhgL/s640/Parent%2527s%2BGuide%2BCooking%2Bwith%2BKids.jpg" title="A Parent's Guide to Cooking with Kids" width="640" /></a></div><br />When I'm chopping and dicing and mixing and stirring I get an overwhelming sense of pride, not necessarily because what I'm making is so delicious or even noteworthy, but because I know that my work directly affects my family's health, well-being, and nutrition. I know that the care I take when I whip up a <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/07/he-fell-in-love-with-my-coffee-cake.html" target="_blank">coffee cake</a> or roll together a pan of <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2013/08/jumbo-chicken-and-onion-enchiladas.html" target="_blank">Jumbo Chicken and Onion Enchiladas</a> will benefit my family. I take special care with my&nbsp;meal planning and recipes every time I cook because I'm aware of their impact. I like to share this meaningful experience with my readers, and I do so by sharing many of my <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/p/recipes.html" target="_blank">recipes</a>, but more than anything, I love to share the experience with my children.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GIuijf6i3x8/WbVYT6GkFSI/AAAAAAAAOv0/w8fnwIAIgakn6Wfmgm127cWh9Z6-6rhUwCEwYBhgL/s1600/A%2BParent%2527s%2BGuide%2Bto%2BCooking%2Bwith%2BKids_2.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GIuijf6i3x8/WbVYT6GkFSI/AAAAAAAAOv0/w8fnwIAIgakn6Wfmgm127cWh9Z6-6rhUwCEwYBhgL/s640/A%2BParent%2527s%2BGuide%2Bto%2BCooking%2Bwith%2BKids_2.JPG" width="480" /></a></div><br />My kids are not strangers to the kitchen. In addition&nbsp;to watching my favorite cooking shows, they have also been my little kitchen helpers since they each were big enough to stand. They are accustomed to seeing me bake and cook, they enjoy being taste testers, and they fight over who gets to claim mixing&nbsp;duty each day. I try to include them in the entire cooking process from menu planning and choosing items from the farmers market or the grocery store to preparation before the cooking begins and then kitchen cleanup.<br /><br />My husband and I developed a <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/02/wonderfulyourway-with-shrimp-spaghetti.html" target="_blank">love for cooking together</a> while we were dating, and we try to now include our children in the experience whenever possible. It's an understatement to say having kids in the kitchen can be challenging. There are the obvious safety&nbsp;precautions that always need to be considered. Additionally, they are unable to do the&nbsp;math for recipe manipulation, so you have to be prepared ahead of time if you plan on doubling or halving anything. Plus, and maybe most challenging, their tiny frames can't see or even reach the top of the countertops. <br /><br />Over the years I've learned a couple of tricks to help make your time in the kitchen with your children fruitful for everyone. I'm sharing some of those hard-won lessons&nbsp;with you.<br /><br /><b>Choose the right recipe and explain everyone's individual role before getting started. </b>Julia Child's book, <a href="http://amzn.to/2eOkjhN">Mastering the Art of French Cooking</a> is not a good starting point for adults who don't know how to cook, let alone children. Start simple and work your way to more complicated recipes. If you're working with multiple children, it can be beneficial to clearly outline who will manage each duty, so there isn't any confusion once you start cooking.<br />Here are several cookbooks with kid-friendly recipes options. I have used many of these and included some of my personal favorites:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1HMWLOnyKrU/WbVAshRyDvI/AAAAAAAAOvQ/_De-AMrEeeYLNkkrmMKZK3mc1BrkIcfUQCLcBGAs/s1600/the_best_cookbooks_for_kids.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="The best cookbooks for kids - a collection of tried and true cookbooks all with kid-friendly recipes. This is the perfect addition to any parent's cookbook collection if they desire to spend time with their children in the kitchen." border="0" data-original-height="1000" data-original-width="588" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1HMWLOnyKrU/WbVAshRyDvI/AAAAAAAAOvQ/_De-AMrEeeYLNkkrmMKZK3mc1BrkIcfUQCLcBGAs/s400/the_best_cookbooks_for_kids.jpg" title="The best cookbooks for kids - a collection of tried and true cookbooks all with kid-friendly recipes. This is the perfect addition to any parent's cookbook collection if they desire to spend time with their children in the kitchen." width="235" /></a></div><br /><ul><li><a href="http://amzn.to/2eXxd0F">Fix-It and Forget-It kids' Cookbook: 50 Favorite Recipes To Make In A Slow Cooker</a></li><li><a href="http://amzn.to/2xobQNH">The Young Chef: Recipes and Techniques for Kids Who Love to Cook</a></li><li><a href="http://amzn.to/2eXYY9g">Taste of Home Kid-Approved Cookbook: 328 Family Tested Fun Foods</a></li><li><a href="http://amzn.to/2xobWVz">Parents Magazine Quick &amp; Easy Kid-Friendly Meals: 125 Recipes Your Whole Family Will Love (Better Homes and Gardens Cooking)</a></li><li><a href="http://amzn.to/2wizTZd"><span id="goog_1315989141"></span>Betty Crocker Kids Cook!</a><span id="goog_1315989142"></span></li></ul><br /><b>Make it fun. </b>Turn a mundane, everyday task like cooking, into something fun and extraordinary, so your kids look forward to their time in the kitchen. You can do this many ways. For example, one afternoon my oldest son asked to play with play doh, after some quick thinking and an inventory of my cabinets I decided to make homemade noodles instead of playing with play doh. A little flour and eggs and two tiny but messy hands later, we had homemade noodles for our dinner that night and boy were they delicious! My son never missed playing with play doh. Making <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2012/04/foodie-friday-parmesan-oregano.html">meatballs</a>, meat loaf, and kneading bread are also fun ways for kids to get their hands messy while being helpers. These <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2017/07/cooking-with-kids-dipped-peanut-butter.html">dipped peanut butter bananas</a> are also a good introductory recipe.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-a67q9OSeKyQ/WbVYT7ijnLI/AAAAAAAAOvs/3PFIslz4qjQyTzaFB-fmeTeNncbeWaCtwCLcBGAs/s1600/A%2BParent%2527s%2BGuide%2Bto%2BCooking%2Bwith%2BKids.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Parent's Guide to Cooking with Kids" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-a67q9OSeKyQ/WbVYT7ijnLI/AAAAAAAAOvs/3PFIslz4qjQyTzaFB-fmeTeNncbeWaCtwCLcBGAs/s640/A%2BParent%2527s%2BGuide%2Bto%2BCooking%2Bwith%2BKids.JPG" title="A Parent's Guide to Cooking with Kids" width="480" /></a></div><br /><b>Prepare ahead of time.</b> Some kitchen tasks are just not appropriate for young children. If you can, try to have those things done before having the kids join you in the kitchen. Consider dicing, chopping, and butchering all necessary ingredients before you invite your little ones in to help. Make sure all the ingredients are handy once you get started so that your children are not waiting around as you gather mixing bowls and ingredients. We all know the attention span of kids is much shorter than adults and they need to remain stimulated throughout the process if you want to keep them interested.<br /><br /><b>Keep things interesting. </b>Another way to inspire alertness and participation from children is to keep things interesting. Change up recipes, so your little ones aren't always helping with the same meal over and over. Experiment with flavors and textures. This is easy to implement even at the grocery store. Let your children pick a new fruit, grain, or vegetable and do some research on interesting ways to include it in your families diet. During the summer I let my kids pick new fruits like star fruit or dragon fruit, and when we come home, we sit down and taste it together.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eDK9cCKId5U/WXZBYsX94FI/AAAAAAAAObk/7qxOhifO9SAtGF_rYgdkFrxqbs_2lSa6wCPcBGAYYCw/s1600/peanut_butter_banana_little_chefs.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1068" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eDK9cCKId5U/WXZBYsX94FI/AAAAAAAAObk/7qxOhifO9SAtGF_rYgdkFrxqbs_2lSa6wCPcBGAYYCw/s640/peanut_butter_banana_little_chefs.jpg" width="426" /></a></div><br /><b>Patience is key. </b>I'm preaching to the choir here because having patience is a pretty obvious ingredient to parenting, but one of the things I really struggle with both in and out of the kitchen. Mistakes and messes will happen - remember that you are teaching your children a life skill, take a deep breath and try to fix what you can or improvise to make the most of a bad situation.<br /><br /><b>Have a backup plan. </b>Keep a frozen pizza or some extra lunch meat available in case things don't go according to plan. Children are unpredictable, and you never know when they are going to dump the entire container of black pepper into the <a href="http://www.everyday-thoughts.com/2016/09/white-beans-and-ham-recipe.html">White Beans and Ham</a>&nbsp;recipe instead of just a sprinkle. Opps!<br /><br /><b>The right equipment is essential. </b>Certain items are beneficial if you want to be inclusive of little helpers in your kitchen. My boys both love to wear <a href="http://amzn.to/2xoJGC6">aprons</a> and I'm a big proponent of them since they help keep their clothes a little tidier. I like to make sure each one of my kids has their own unique spatula, and I try to use <a href="http://amzn.to/2wiWtkG">bowls with spouts</a> so that it is easy to pour things from one bowl to the next. A small egg timer is nice to have around because it allows them to get a better understanding of timing and a thermometer is a must to teach them early the healthy internal temperatures of various meats for safe consumption. Of all the tools and gadgets in my kitchen, my absolute favorite thing for cooking with kids is our kitchen caddie. It is a collapsible wooden contraption which the boys stand on so that they can easily reach the counter. Unlike a step stool or a kitchen chair, there are raised sides all the way around so that the kids are less likely to fall. We have the <a href="http://amzn.to/2vOoyks">Guidecraft Kitchen Helper</a>, and I swear by it.<br /><br />Now that I've shared some of my secrets for cooking with kids, I'd love to know your favorite kid-friendly recipes. Please share recipe links in the comments below and let me know if you have any tips that I left out.<br /><br />Be Blessed<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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0pt;"><i style="text-align: center;">Disclosure: "Plan the Perfect Me-Day" is a sponsored post from Red Dress Boutique, and I received compensation for publishing it. The opinions expressed in this post are not my own but I felt like their products align with my brand and I want to make sure I'm always keeping my readers updated on the latest trends in fashion, food, parenting techniques, and prayerful practices. I hope you enjoy!&nbsp;</i></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><i style="text-align: center;"><br /></i></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><img alt="Plan the Perfect Me-Day with Red Dress Boutique" height="400" src="https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/F9sZZ7CbwokoWbQz6_V9MA3DgNrtfTUZ2KmmlTIIrvgq50jYKqcampbijj3H1_MQtaxPQ_gRlvJLkuQg9WUASK0YuxXMz4tT5gp_DZUfl4xCxRv5uNT5CVi47oDM0ygP5MX4NoM" style="border: none; transform: rotate(0rad);" title="Plan the Perfect Me-Day with Red Dress Boutique" width="265" /></span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">When it comes to crushing it, you are an expert. Emergency presentation at work to land a big client? On it. Last minute babysitter when your sister goes into labor? Have crayons, will travel. Best gal pal caught her no-good-BF texting with another girl? You’re the first one there with a bottle of Prosecco and a download of</span><a href="http://beyonce.tidal.com/" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Lemonade</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> (not to mention the baseball bat in your trunk). </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">You’ve been busting that cute little booty so hard doing everything for others that you hardly make time for you. Don’t worry, girl, we got you. Sit down, relax and open up that Google calendar (as if it’s ever closed). It’s time to schedule some much deserved ‘Me Time’ to regroup, recharge and rest that beautiful soul of yours. Check out our list of ideas for the Perfect Me-Day and claim some time for you. </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">1. Nailed It</span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><img alt="Plan the Perfect Me-Day with Red Dress Boutique" height="400" src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/CbfMsnPX38b8n2Bh879paxuvbdbEUSSTYJ4T9J1n6YY5obKix9VmHkE24mG9cezCa2o5h9DZdm4rbc2_kpvYap6x1B5bS0Dvtmh2z4Q8WtSpC4EB7q-JMoHuwMQLm8CPqbFnRUk" style="border: none; transform: rotate(0rad);" title="Plan the Perfect Me-Day with Red Dress Boutique" width="264" /></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It’s not easy clawing your way to the top – and it’s definitely no picnic on your cuticles. Take a time out from your corporate climbing and schedule yourself a mani-pedi at your favorite nail salon.</span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Fight the urge to go basic on color. This is your day, and you are feeling fun, flirty and adventurous. Try a poppy pink or neon blue for a change of pace and wear your</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/all-rompers-jumpers/rompers.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">cutest romper</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and comfortable (yet chic) sandals to complete your now uber-fun look. Not sure if you should spend the extra bucks for the paraffin wrap and extra foot massage? Girlfriend, yes. The answer is always yes. </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">2. Garden Party</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Use your day off from the hustle and bustle to take in the beauty of nature at your</span><a href="http://www.proflowers.com/blog/directory-of-us-arboretums" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">local arboretum or botanical garden</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. The peace and quiet of the gardens will rejuvenate your soul, and all of the gorgeous plants and flowers will make an excellent backdrop for your selfie pic portfolio. Wear something equally beautiful like a</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/all-dresses/floral-dresses.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">trendy floral print dress</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and enjoy the inevitable compliments (and new Instagram followers). </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">3. Namaste</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">With a life as busy as yours, it’s important to remain flexible. So put down your iPhone and pull on your favorite (and cutest)</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/activewear/athleisure-leggings.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">black leggings</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> for some serious yoga therapy. You may be a slayer in the boardroom, but your warrior pose could use some serious work. </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">4.</span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Take in a Double Feature</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Life’s been a bit bumpy lately, but there’s no doubt in our mind you’ll get your happily ever after eventually. Until then, however, there’s no shame in living vicariously through the silver screen for a little cathartic retreat. </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Slip into something more comfortable, like anything from the</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/brands-we-love/everly.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">always stylish and comfortable brand Everly</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, and take in a movie marathon at your favorite theater. There’s no better date than Y-O-U, and you don’t have to worry about sharing the popcorn. </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">5. Table for One</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Lose yourself in fantasy during your much needed R&amp;R with a tasty lunch for one and the company of a</span><a href="https://laurenconrad.com/blog/2017/06/good-reads-summer-reading-list/" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">good book</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. If you’re a little nervous about dining alone at a restaurant, pick a place with lunch time bar seating or a patio with a view. There’s no need to be self-conscious when you treat yourself to a nice meal. After all, in a</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/all-rompers-jumpers/jumpsuits.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">sexy jumpsuit</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> like this, we’re pretty sure you won’t be dining solo for long. </span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">6. Beat the Heat with a Summer Treat</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Enjoy the summer being a tourist in your own town. Put on your biggest sun hat and your</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/shop-by-trend/summer-staples.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">favorite summer outfit</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and pretend like you’re on vacation for the day. Walk downtown, shop for cheesy souvenirs and definitely (definitely!) get yourself some ice cream.</span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">7. Catch Some Rays</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt; text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><img alt="Plan the Perfect Me-Day with Red Dress Boutique" height="400" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/y_ddPx-iRb7lGM_yUw9TCsqA8pTwazDcO1vEkSf-TD_SvNnxEytiG-kV3-1bj1pxdM_TgJpDnqnNvidDrr3Gv_HF6oWOaR-9eG4hG0UU_5Poteckq0E8jwe7RKehXFLnApO-u_g" style="border: none; transform: rotate(0rad);" title="Plan the Perfect Me-Day with Red Dress Boutique" width="265" /></span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">We’d be bad friends if we didn’t tell you to make time for a beach day or two this summer. And a beach day all to yourself – well, that’s just about heaven. Pack light for this easy breezy day of relaxation. Just your favorite</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/swimwear/two-piece.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">two piece</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, a towel, and some SPF will do. </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If beaches aren’t your thing (or not an option – sigh) then you can easily have just as much fun at a pool. Either way, do your best to catch some rays this summer, and we’re sure your daily stresses will quickly fade. </span></div><div class="p1"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><br /></b></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 700; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">8. Spa Day</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The most obvious Me-Day of them all is a good old fashioned spa day. It may not be the most creative way to get some time to yourself, but it is certainly the most relaxing. </span></div><div class="p1"><br /></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Schedule yourself a massage/facial/seaweed wrap/sugar scrub and take full advantage of the ‘quiet please’ policies to get the most out of your day of solitude. After a day like this, you’ll come out looking like a million bucks and ready to rock a smoking hot</span><a href="http://www.reddressboutique.com/all-dresses/maxi-dress.html" rel="nofollow" style="text-decoration: none;" target="_blank"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="background-color: transparent; color: #1155cc; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">maxi dress</span></a><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> to wherever (or whoever) the night takes you. &nbsp;</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">******</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: &quot;arial&quot;; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">How do you find time to unwind and refresh your mind, body, and spirit? Are there any pieces you're loving from Red Dress Boutique?</span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><br /></div><style type="text/css"> p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 15.0px} p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 15.0px} p.p4 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; background-color: #ffff00; min-height: 15.0px} p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; background-color: #ffff00; min-height: 15.0px} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} span.s2 {text-decoration: underline ; 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text-align: left;"><i style="text-align: center;">Disclosure: Some of the links in this post</i><i style="text-align: center;">, Elmo Birthday Party,</i><i style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but that comes at no cost to you.&nbsp;</i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><i style="text-align: center;"><br /></i></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">It seems almost impossible to believe that my youngest is now a two-year-old. He has brought so much love and light to our family, and it feels like he's been with us since before I can remember. He is such a natural extension of our family and the perfect addition. My little guy is always smiling and is incredibly laid back. He loves doggies and choo choos and most of all, Elmo. So it was only natural that we hosted an Elmo birthday party to celebrate him turning two.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">After scanning Pinterest and the rest of the interweb for Elmo birthday party ideas and inspiration, I was able to put together some relatively simple party&nbsp;favors and decorations to enhance the Sesame Street theme. You can check out my Elmo Birthday Party Pinterest board <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/evrydythoughts/elmo-party/">here</a>&nbsp;or just keep scrolling to see some of the actual decorations.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Overall, the party was a big hit with the kids, and my little guy had a fantastic time. Even though he is not normally one to relish in the spotlight, he loved that everyone was singing happy birthday to him and he loved being surrounded by his favorite character, Elmo.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8AkJ9-5gbLE/WYsUXv2QrCI/AAAAAAAAOcc/lr7RHCsMwZgkcgai0eW6NS0z1ukecU7xQCEwYBhgL/s1600/Elmo_birthday_party_sunny_days_ahead.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Elmo Birthday Party - Sunny days ahead sideway chalk " border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1067" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8AkJ9-5gbLE/WYsUXv2QrCI/AAAAAAAAOcc/lr7RHCsMwZgkcgai0eW6NS0z1ukecU7xQCEwYBhgL/s640/Elmo_birthday_party_sunny_days_ahead.jpg" title="Elmo Birthday Party - Sunny days ahead sideway chalk " width="426" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">When guests arrived, they were greeted&nbsp;by balloons on the mailbox and some <a href="http://amzn.to/2vjNvWX">sidewalk chalk paint</a>, similar to the chalk drawings at the beginning of each Sesame Street episode.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Sgkso3eBauA/WYsUWUUIxqI/AAAAAAAAOcc/iv2Ld0P_EAM-NVqfoHZ57YiAMearvateQCEwYBhgL/s1600/Elmo_birthday_party_Elmo%2Bhead.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Elmo Birthday Party - Elmo head decoration made with red fiber and a styrofoam ball" border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1067" height="640" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Sgkso3eBauA/WYsUWUUIxqI/AAAAAAAAOcc/iv2Ld0P_EAM-NVqfoHZ57YiAMearvateQCEwYBhgL/s640/Elmo_birthday_party_Elmo%2Bhead.jpg" title="Elmo Birthday Party - Elmo head decoration made with red fiber and a styrofoam ball" width="426" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">A little trip up and down the aisles of the craft store, lead to the inspiration for this Elmo head. This is simply a styrofoam ball covered in red fibers. I used styrofoam&nbsp;glue to attach the fibers. The eyes are <span id="goog_1689238425"></span><a href="http://amzn.to/2wIeDwE">large google craft ey<span id="goog_1689238426"></span>es</a> and the nose was created from an everyday drink koozie&nbsp;- talk about being resourceful. Then I simply inserted a dowel rod so it would stand upright.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-P1_k6bkr3A8/WYsUWSJDntI/AAAAAAAAOcA/mOP8McpZyAcUjOa1oQTXtd0qmnuYLNiqwCLcBGAs/s1600/Elmo_birthday_party_cake.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Elmo Birthday Party - Sesame Street Tow Truck Sheet Cake from Publix" border="0" data-original-height="1198" data-original-width="1600" height="479" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-P1_k6bkr3A8/WYsUWSJDntI/AAAAAAAAOcA/mOP8McpZyAcUjOa1oQTXtd0qmnuYLNiqwCLcBGAs/s640/Elmo_birthday_party_cake.JPG" title="Elmo Birthday Party - Sesame Street Tow Truck Sheet Cake from Publix" width="640" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><div style="text-align: left;"><br />I purchased a quarter-sized Sesame Street Tow Truck sheet cake from Publix and added <a href="http://amzn.to/2vERhv0">these Elmo candles</a>. I love that the decorations are real toys so the kids can play with them long after the cake is gone and the party is over.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-feB7Ls5HfB4/WYsUXETGZFI/AAAAAAAAOcc/1FMG_UJ-uaAuJOSq5Z7GNt3uGtvgtJeMwCEwYBhgL/s1600/Elmo_birthday_party_elmo_wreath.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Elmo Birthday Party - Red Balloon Wreath" border="0" data-original-height="1067" data-original-width="1600" height="426" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-feB7Ls5HfB4/WYsUXETGZFI/AAAAAAAAOcc/1FMG_UJ-uaAuJOSq5Z7GNt3uGtvgtJeMwCEwYBhgL/s640/Elmo_birthday_party_elmo_wreath.jpg" title="Elmo Birthday Party - Red Balloon Wreath" width="640" /></a></div><div style="text-align: left;"><br />This wreath was made of red balloons and another orange koozie nose and google eyes. I used a hot glue gun to adhere all the materials to a straw wreath form.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: left;">The party favors were my favorite. I made two different takeaways, Cookie Monster Oreo packets and individual Dorothy fish bowls.&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rn1F2Zbv08A/WYsUXhg_q0I/AAAAAAAAOcc/rps4WEb8v1sfMTFrCX5k7LTGYZcRqDidwCEwYBhgL/s1600/Elmo_birthday_party_oreo_cookie_monsters.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Elmo Birthday Party - Cookie Monster Oreo Favors " border="0" data-original-height="1200" data-original-width="1600" height="480" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rn1F2Zbv08A/WYsUXhg_q0I/AAAAAAAAOcc/rps4WEb8v1sfMTFrCX5k7LTGYZcRqDidwCEwYBhgL/s640/Elmo_birthday_party_oreo_cookie_monsters.jpg" title="Elmo Birthday Party - Cookie Monster Oreo Favors " width="640" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RVx6iJmkOmk/WYsxCQRSjRI/AAAAAAAAOco/STub-4j29bkNTzefWaq7mIVlhEuxhpR_ACLcBGAs/s1600/Elmo_birthday_party_dorothy_fish_favors.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Elmo Birthday Party - Dorothy Fish Favors" border="0" data-original-height="534" data-original-width="1600" height="212" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RVx6iJmkOmk/WYsxCQRSjRI/AAAAAAAAOco/STub-4j29bkNTzefWaq7mIVlhEuxhpR_ACLcBGAs/s640/Elmo_birthday_party_dorothy_fish_favors.jpg" title="Elmo Birthday Party - Dorothy Fish Favors" width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The Dorothy favors are small mason jars filled with blue jelly beans in two separate tones. I put one goldfish snack in each jar to represent Dorothy. The big fishbowl is filled with blue fish tank rocks. I found a goldfish image online which I printed out and taped to a dowel rod. The Dorothy sign can printable can be found below, and I also taped that to a dowel rod.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Click <a href="https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B_93XYwSAQAfcXVXRTVOSHF5VnM?usp=sharing">here</a> for free printouts of Dorothy sign, cookie monster heads, and bathroom signs.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wpHd5yKgzpw/WYs04EHmzkI/AAAAAAAAOc0/_pfwZwKF0po9-BmiZSvNVH1xs5tiHbphwCLcBGAs/s1600/Elmo_Birthday_Party_Ideas.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Elmo Birthday Party Ideas - sidewalk chalk, Dorothy fish favors, Cookie Monster Oreo favors, Elmo wreath and much more. " border="0" data-original-height="1008" data-original-width="525" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wpHd5yKgzpw/WYs04EHmzkI/AAAAAAAAOc0/_pfwZwKF0po9-BmiZSvNVH1xs5tiHbphwCLcBGAs/s640/Elmo_Birthday_Party_Ideas.jpg" title="Elmo Birthday Party Ideas - sidewalk chalk, Dorothy fish favors, Cookie Monster Oreo favors, Elmo wreath and much more. " width="332" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">What are some of your best party-throwing tips?</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" 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href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SdYLDy4VKGs/WYSH4DWHqrI/AAAAAAAAOa4/Gd1mC8xoBVga0F2Vm1NRq5ylB_CtLA-BgCLcBGAs/s1600/a_season_of_change.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Season of Change - One parent's reflection on approaching her child's first academic year." border="0" data-original-height="750" data-original-width="1500" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SdYLDy4VKGs/WYSH4DWHqrI/AAAAAAAAOa4/Gd1mC8xoBVga0F2Vm1NRq5ylB_CtLA-BgCLcBGAs/s640/a_season_of_change.jpg" title="A Season of Change - One parent's reflection on approaching her child's first academic year." width="640" /></a></div><br />My life seems to constantly&nbsp;be in flux, always moving, changing, and evolving. Every morning feels the same until I reflect back on it at the end of the week and realize each one was completely different from the next. At bedtime, we read the same books over and over again until one day we don't and the book changes. I get lost in my busyness and become blind to these changes. The changes seem to happen gradually - one day I'm holding my infant, then he's walking, and before I can take a breath he is climbing stairs and writing his name. We've gone from diapers to pull-ups, to big boy underwear and I've managed to shield myself from the changes - never really breathing them in and acknowledging&nbsp;that change is just as much a resident in my home as any of the members who have a place at my kitchen table.<br /><br />A calendar helps me count the days that tick by, and I sometimes stop and pause when a big event like a birthday or holiday bear down on me and remind me once more that this time with my children is ticking away. It's not often though that I sit down and capture my thoughts, but today there is a line in the sand, one I knew was approaching, but I've been too emotionally shut off to really grasp. Today is the last day of daycare for my oldest. Today marks the last day before he is considered a school-aged child.<br /><br />After today I have one year of preschool, one of kindergarten, five of elementary&nbsp;school, three of middle, and four of high school. After today, our house is officially on a school schedule and I, like many other parents, will measure growth in academic years and summer vacations as opposed to vaccination&nbsp;visits and episodes of Sesame Street.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zHxgOL08xs0/WYSLhFufOLI/AAAAAAAAObE/vIS3iVkSvcwSdA5-nBdse4x3cBvHiTzawCLcBGAs/s1600/IMG_9787.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Season of Change - One parent's reflection on approaching her child's first academic year." border="0" data-original-height="1600" data-original-width="1200" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zHxgOL08xs0/WYSLhFufOLI/AAAAAAAAObE/vIS3iVkSvcwSdA5-nBdse4x3cBvHiTzawCLcBGAs/s640/IMG_9787.JPG" title="A Season of Change - One parent's reflection on approaching her child's first academic year." width="480" /></a></div><br />Every parent warns you that time slips through your fingers and to cherish these moments - and I'll add to the choir, this is true. I've only been at this four and half years, but it feels like yesterday that I held my skinny, all-to-small premature baby and prayed with a conviction I've never known to allow him the opportunity to be a healthy, happy baby boy. And here he stands today, a beautiful product of my husband and I's efforts, of God's faithfulness, and of his powerful little will. He is a smart and vivacious little boy, who just wants a new backpack and some books to take to his new school. He has no idea of what lies ahead of him, and I'd be foolish to think I do either. We are on this journey together, and we are in a season&nbsp;of change.<br /><br />Today, I'll likely shed a couple tears, have a glass of wine, and say an extra prayer but I'm determined to approach this new era with a joyful heart, knowing it has the potential to be even more fruitful. Now I just need to hold my breath and jump in.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PZYJD9ZrAGM/WYSMrWBRH6I/AAAAAAAAObM/v5mb00YfqcEV1P4n5kHyMq9XESofIpkqwCLcBGAs/s1600/season_of_change.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="A Season of Change - One parent's reflection on approaching her child's first academic year." border="0" data-original-height="900" data-original-width="600" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PZYJD9ZrAGM/WYSMrWBRH6I/AAAAAAAAObM/v5mb00YfqcEV1P4n5kHyMq9XESofIpkqwCLcBGAs/s640/season_of_change.jpg" title="A Season of Change - One parent's reflection on approaching her child's first academic year." width="426" /></a></div><br />Cheers to all you parents who are facing a season of change. How are you managing the epic, but significant moments that push you and your family forward?<br /><br />Be Blessed,<br /><div><span style="color: #323232; font-family: &quot;lucida handwriting&quot;; font-size: 26.5pt;">Brittany</span></div><img alt="Email Me" height="33" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-8JzmIQ9yO46lgeCFGkafYBHjy1mwDuy9B8WPCCwRP0xQcEALkCoE_uTmjSx1vsEOTnw_LJ9TGSye815ujHEs-bDJw1dolmhYgUHxMwD7YVwNDug_5JX6TH-3Rwd86YoyalGoSht_mhCjsUibBKGnJFit3eiO-BxP45HX-KLXQPKPaG26NDajG8akwVBeqswUfW7xQaF1a0sv62iijgqIL2p6d7OFAcd9XiGqIkwkvBBvoZWMb3CMttURDNTM8thnHvqHbdV_QoMFo-416JIWnmTlxD7albXO17nAEfNRhrqe_xow5c527Z-ooi7F4wCuiYp4Sk61fIvb_l1l5ymX0Rh1r3J77K2k9r4LSD5AcbwXnn87d_VTBx0YQ5FX2xJkMZqXw_vlH61dKiZRZxIIuShzvtzYLzgMgDsg30ymW_dBsVneUL43to_vF8jgeSHL2bI1w0aTrdrZCE3KxsFvE7ujOPAps4-XQbbvHp7B7j1EcS6KuQXsHuZt9_dzUs3WnXmT8N7aZ83h5edTfa5-AIHeFDsIMAbM_moAmOWXbtlMjxkLEj1b6RgjD0zY3syaY7LWFeTdnc03evTsQ0xOmrgMQ2_ryj4XSUmYcFH81ji1w=s33-no" width="33" /><a 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