Category:

Lifestyle

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. I received the included Carter’s clothes as compensation but all opinions are mine.

As I lay here in the sun poolside, it’s hard to imagine that it’s already time to get the girls ready to go back to school. How can it be? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were celebrating the last day of school? Why do the summers keep flying by quicker the older my children get?

When the girls were little, a year felt like an eternity. Back in those days, I was so exhausted and overwhelmed, I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to survive the year. Then, it passed and with each passing year, I got a little more sleep, they got a little easier and right at the time you really start to enjoy spending time talking to your little ones and being with them, the summers decide to go by at lightning speed. Not cool, time. Slow down.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

Anyways, my point is time speeds up when we least want it to and it doesn’t seem to care that I’m gripping on for dear life, pulling back while life’s propelling my babies forward. I loosen my grip but then they catapult away in every direction. So I grab hold at my first chance. This push and pull of parenting, like the ebb and flow of the surf against the shore. There’s a lot of bending and growing, the goal is to not break but to grow stronger through our intertwinement.

As the girls get older, we seem to be getting closer. My mom tells me that I’m “lucky” that my girls are “so good”. I tell her, “No, I’ve put in 12 years of hard time to get to this point.” Parenting has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with showing up every single day and being present. It’s hard work but it’s worth it and anyone who tells you it isn’t is either a liar or completely missing the point.

 

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

As my girls get older, we actually have fun hanging out together; talking, sharing and keeping secrets, laughing and loving like there is no tomorrow. They are honestly two of my favorite people.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

One of our favorite things to do together is spend the day shopping and trying clothes on. This was a favorite pastime of my sisters and me in our teens. We could shop for hours without ever spending a dime. It was the time together that was important. It may sound cliché, but there truly is something kind of magical and wonderfully bonding about girls creating fashionable outfits together. It’s more than just spending money on clothes, it’s about the conversations, the honesty and the intimacy of sharing your personal style with someone else. It’s sharing a part of your soul and in the process, making memories.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

 

My girls have to wear uniforms to school and that leaves them feeling a bit fashionably and creatively stifled so shopping together for casual clothes is something they look forward to every single year. It transcends the act of shopping for clothing and the bonding experience, it is their chance to showcase who they are. Their casual clothes allow them the freedom to express who they are on the inside.

This week my sister and her son came to visit and we did something we haven’t had the chance to do in a really long time, we went shopping together. We had a blast loading our arms full of the latest Carter’s styles and mixing and matching different pieces and having a little fashion show.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

 

The kids were giggling and laughing and having so much fun together and, in that moment, my sister and I were those two teenagers again; hanging out in the dressing room, trying to find the cutest outfit for the roller dome, or the football game or whatever party we were going to.

In those moments, we all grew closer as we posed the kids and they made goofy faces. It was simple, nothing planned or fancy, just a couple sisters shopping for back-to-school with their children but those little moments, they are when the unforgettable glimpses of forever family begin to shine through. In those snapshots of hysterical laughing and smiling until your cheeks hurt, that’s when the bond is sealed and the love grows.

If you are looking for some seriously cute back-to-school fashion for boys and girls, look no further. Kohl’s Carter’s Department has you covered because August 4 thru August 20, 2017, Carter’s Playwear is 40%-50% off. Check out the Carter’s selection.

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies.

Affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s.

There is a 40% – 50% off Carter’s Playwear sale from 8/4 – 8/20. Shoppers can also use the BTS10 code to get $10 off $50 spent on the back to school categories (which includes Carter’s clothing).

$10 off $50 spent  – Sales Date: 8/4 – 8/20 (Promo code: BTS10)

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hefty, mom strong, John Cena, mom

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Disclosure: This is a compensated collaboration with Hefty® but all opinions are my own.

Where there is a will, there is always a way. This is the one life lesson my mom taught me that has always stuck with me. In fact, it plays on a loop in my brain in the background of every single thing I do. I don’t quit, as a rule.

 

hefty, mom strong, John Cena, mom

I remember this saying so specifically because not only did my mom tell me these words every day of my childhood, she said it to me from a place of desperation. She was living in a metaphorical hole but she loved me so much that she made a point of telling me that I could do/be anything. Imagine if you will a mom in a deep hole with her small children, sacrificing every ounce of strength and hope she had for herself to push her children to the surface. That was my mom.

hefty, mom strong, John Cena, mom

She may not have a wall full of degrees, millions of dollars in the bank, a big house or have traveled the world, but she was, and still is, a simple and humble woman with a big heart filled with love, even if she had nothing else to give. She went without so that we could have what we needed. Sometimes it felt like we had nothing too but we did, because we always knew we had our mom. So no matter how bleak things might have looked throughout my childhood, I knew I had unconditional love and that meant something.

She also told me that chasing my dreams was going to be hard but it would be worth it to catch them and live on my own terms. The gratification of accomplishing the goals I would set for myself could carry me through my hardest times and she was right. This is what I try to teach my girls.

The circumstances are quite a bit different though. Whereas I saw my mother had nothing, my girls see where my hard work has paid off. They don’t see the close to the poverty line, blue-collar hole I was pushed out of to get to where I am. They haven’t felt the ramifications of the hard work or seen everything that goes on behind the scenes. I’ve protected them from feeling that. I shouldn’t have.

hefty, mom strong, John Cena, mom

Recently, I made a point of taking advantage of a teachable moment and explaining to my girls that the blisters in life are what give us the calluses to make it through the tough times. I reiterated what I have always known and what I’ve always told them, “where there is a will, there is always a way.” The only difference was that, in that particular moment, there was a situation affecting them that could make the words tangible. It gave them weight and purpose and finally, they became more than words; they became fact. In that moment, we all became stronger.

Hefty® is celebrating all the strong moms out there. The ones who stay up late forgoing their own sleep for the colicky baby who needs a little extra attention, the ones who make the tough decisions and sacrifices so that their children know they always have their backs, the moms who give all their love and attention to their family even when they are too tired to shave their own legs. We are strong and fierce in our resilience. We are ultra-strong and Hefty® honors that. Game recognizes game.

 

 

I love this ad with WWE superstar, John Cena, and his mom, Carol Cena, because they remind us that Hefty® has the best bags ever at a lower price than the competition, but they also remind us that moms are strong, Hefty® Ultra Strong™.

hefty, mom strong, John Cena, mom

Did you know that Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags feature ARM & HAMMER™ patented odor neutralizer, which is awesome because no one wants garbage that’s stinky.stinky.stinky. Thank goodness for all those fresh scents that they come in. I’m partial to Clean Burst.

Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags also have active tear resistant technology for better puncture-resistance, which I love because there is nothing worse than pulling the bag out of the bin to throw it away and getting covered in garbage soup. All caps EWWWW.

Did I mention the break resistant grip drawstring? Because Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags have them and they are awesome because anything that keeps the garbage off of me and the floor is awesome. If all that is not enough, there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee: Hefty® can handle all your trash bag needs or your money back. So it is totally no risk.

Disclosure: This is a compensated collaboration with Hefty® but all opinions are my own.

 

 

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ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist, Hershey's, S'mores, summer, family, traditions, fireflies, campfire

Need some tips for surviving summer camp? I’ve got you covered. Camps are hard on everyone involved. On paper, they look great. You think 2 weeks to a month of kids who aren’t “bored” and it gives parents a nice mental health break. We always seem to forget how hard it really is; emotionally, physically and mentally. That which doesn’t break us makes us stronger, right?

We are in week 2 of ballet camp. It’s not like a regular camp where you swim, ride horses and eat s’mores with your friends in the woods and miss your parents. That would be awesome, right? No, it’s a lot more like boot camp. 8-hours a day of pushing your body to the limit. It’s basically football camp without the pads. No sleeping away, just grouchy parents and kids who have to get up way too early during the summer and are perpetually tired for 14 days.

ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist

The girls have blisters, leg cramps and blissful exhaustion to show for it. But they’ve stopped complaining and started embracing the challenges. In fact, I think they are actually starting to feel some pride in the hard work even if they do want to rip their feet off and beat everyone with them. I’m proud of them.

Epsom salt, rest, and repeat. That’s the drill. But when you’re pushing your body that hard, some things are unavoidable. Cramps and exhaustion are coming whether you want it or not. Your body can only be pushed so hard before it gives you the middle finger.

Here are our tips for surviving summer camp

1. High protein Snacks

Snacks help to keep you going when you are working out hard. Our favorites are whole almonds that can be tossed into the mouth during classes. Starkist tear and go tuna pouches because you just tear. Eat. Go. no can opener needed. Each pouch has at least 13+ gm of lean protein and only 110 calories, or less.

ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist

It’s perfect for starving ballerinas for lunch or after camp. They can just eat it right out of the pouch but sometimes waiting for dinner is not an option. My girls love the New Tuna Creations Thai Chili Style tuna on a sundried tomato cracker and topped with sliced avocado. It is delicious! And we never get bored because there are so many different flavors. Available in 21 varieties, including 13 deliciously seasoned Tuna & Salmon Creations, tuna & salmon in water or oil, as well as low sodium options.

2. Water and more water

Dehydration is no joke and nothing will make your legs cramp up more than overworking dehydrated legs. The recommended daily amount of water is 64 ounces so when dancing you should strive for at least that amount.

3. Epsom salt baths

Pushing your body hard can cause your muscles to ache and revolt. It’s the price you pay for being awesome. So if you are an athlete, just starting back to working out or a ballerina dancing her toes off, a 20-minute soak in an Epsom salt bath will help tremendously. Bonus points for achy ballerina feet if you use peppermint oil in your Epsom salt bath.

4. Sleep

You know how your mom always told you that you need at least 8-hours of sleep to feel rested. Mom was onto something. When you are working your body out, you need to give it time to heal and replenish. It’s like driving a car. You’ve got to put gas in that baby to get it going. Well, for the human body you need to feed it plenty of good foods and let it rest so it can go hard again the next day. If not, you’ll burn out and won’t be able to meet your goals.

5. Blister Band-Aids

New shoes, old shoes that or too small or just pointe shoes in general if you are going to be dancing for long amounts of time, you need to invest in blister Band-Aids. They are some sort of magical little Band-Aids that are silicon not latex and are very tiny (made just to cover the blister) and helps to speed up the healing process. I used these on my daughter’s toes last week and after one day, she was fine. These would also be great for anyone who has gotten a blister from breaking in new shoes, in general. I wish I had these when I was breaking in all those flats in middle school!

ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist

 

I know these all sound simple and like no brainers but they are still great tips for any athlete this summer; from the soccer field to the pool and even in the dance studio, these tips will help keep your little one (and yourself) upright and healthy so that they can do their best.

What are your best tips for surviving summer camp?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with Starkist but all opinions and tips for surviving summer camp are my own.

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red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Can you believe that the Fourth of July is right around the corner? When I think of the Fourth of July a few things come to mind; family, friends, the beach, a barbecue, fireworks, the red, white and blue of our American flag and a good dessert recipe like the red, white and blueberry trifle.

The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate all the freedoms that we have to pursue happiness and this beautiful country made up of so many diverse cultures and people all in search of the same thing, freedom from persecution. It really is a great country based on equal rights for all human beings.

Every year, our neighborhood has a huge block party that concludes with a huge fireworks display over our golf course. It’s something we look forward to every year and, in truth, it was a huge part of why we bought our home in this community. It’s part of our American dream.

Family and friends come over to celebrate the 4th of July because who can’t use more friends who feel like family? There’s always great food, good conversation and lots of love and laughter and no Fourth of July celebration would be complete without as much red, white and blue as possible.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Enter our favorite Fourth of July dessert recipe the red, white and blueberry trifle.

The red, white and blueberry trifle is super simple to make and very refreshing to eat. And I don’t know about you but when I’m enjoying my favorite people in the sunshine, drinking sangria, I want something light, refreshing and delicious that screams, “Summer” and that is exactly what the red, white and blueberry trifle does. Plus, it is pretty to look at on your Fourth of July tablescape.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Ingredients for the red, white and blueberry trifle ultimate Fourth of July dessert recipe

• Pound cake (11.5 oz), sliced (you can buy from the bakery or just get a frozen Sarah Lee. I promise it will all taste delicious.)
• 1 Box (6-serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
• 1-Teaspoon vanilla
• 2-Cups whole milk
• ½ Cup sour cream
• 1 Cup of homemade whipped cream or 8 oz. of thawed Cool Whip
• 1 lb. fresh strawberries with the stems removed, sliced
• 1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Directions to make the red, white and blueberry Fourth of July dessert recipe

1. In a medium bowl, beat pudding mix, vanilla, milk and sour cream with electric mixer on medium speed until soft pudding forms. Cover; refrigerate.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair
2. In a trifle bowl or large clear bowl, arrange 1 layer of sliced cake to cover the entire bottom of the bowl. Top with a layer of pudding, then a layer of whipped topping, and then a layer of strawberries. Repeat all layers except use blueberries. Continue with layers until bowl is full.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair
3. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to serve.
The thing about this recipe is that not only is it simple and delicious, it’s beautiful and easy. You can host the perfect Fourth of July party and almost everything you need is on sale during the Wayfair Fourth of July Sale. Your guests will be asking you for the recipe, guaranteed because they will love it so much.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

What is your favorite Fourth of July recipe that you make every year? Have you ever made the red, white and blueberry trifle or something similar?

Please feel free to share links to your favorite Fourth of July recipes in the comments below. I’d love to check them out.

red, white, blueberry, trifle, fourth of july, dessert, recipe, Wayfair

Disclosure: This post was written as part of a sponsored campaign between Wayfair and myself. However, all opinions expressed in this post about the Fourth of July and the dessert recipe for the red, white and blueberry trifle are my own.

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado, HardRockHotelSD

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a discover San Diego road trip mission. I’ve only been to San Diego, California once before but I fell deep and hard in love and I couldn’t wait to go back. Travel is my love language.

This city by the sea is the closest thing to heaven that I can imagine. If you’ve never been, you need to put it on your travel bucket list. What’s not to love about playing in the surf, the smell of the ocean, the best fish tacos on earth and the perfect weather.all.year.long?

When KIA invited me to a ride and drive event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic line of vehicles, it was a no brainer. Driving an award-winning good for the planet vehicle, discovering one of my favorite cities in the United States, yes, please!

Ladies, start your engines. It gave me the chance to do 2 things I love, explore and drive. There is just something about discovering a city with the windows down, wind in your hair and the music blaring while you find all those hidden gems a place has to offer. It was amazing.

If you’ve never been, I’ve curated a must see list of some iconic places you should explore on your San Diego road trip.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island

Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Hotel Coronado is an American treasure with more than 125 years of stories to tell. Built as a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western World’, it does not disappoint. It’s a gorgeous resort and don’t take my word for it, it’s regularly visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Balboa Park

Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Balboa Park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park that contains more than 17 museums, gardens, trails and attractions including the San Diego Zoo. I love it for the old Spanish feel of the buildings. There was something for everyone.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Chicano Park

I stumbled upon this jewel. It’s a small park located between Coronado and the Gas Lamp Quarter that has underpasses painted with beautiful urban murals. It really is something to see in person.

USS Midway Museum

The Midway is one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers in the United States Navy, operating from September 1945 until 1992 when she was decommissioned. During her commission, she sailed every ocean in the world and fought in the Vietnam War and in the First Persian Gulf War. Now a museum, it features more than 60 exhibits and nearly 30 restored aircraft.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

The Unconditional Surrender Statue (AKA the Kissing Statue)

Right outside the USS Midway stands the infamous “Kissing Statue”. True story, the “lovebirds” that inspired the statue were strangers. He was in the service on furlough, she was a dental hygienist. The war was officially over and everyone in Times Square was celebrating. He mistook her for a nurse. Euphoric at the thought of not having to return to battle and associating her with the nurses that had saved so many of his wounded friends, he grabbed her and kissed her. She was in shock. But the statue stands tall as a reminder to all of us that the war ended and so many loved ones were reunited.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

In 1851, a year after California entered the Union, the U.S. Coastal Survey selected the heights of Point Loma for the location of a navigational aid. What seemed to be a good location, however, had a serious flaw: Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. That could be a problem but there is just something magical about Lighthouses. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Mission Basilica de Alcala

San Diego de Alcala is the first of the 21 historic California Missions. It marks the birthplace of Christianity on the west coast of the United States. Today, the Mission, founded in 1979, serves as an active parish church and cultural center for people of all faiths! It’s beautiful and photographs wonderfully.

The Gaslamp Quarter

I stayed in a suite at the iconic Hard Rock Hotel in the historic heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, which was basically the center of everything tucked tightly into 16 ½ square blocks. It is the ultimate walkable urban playground.

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

While there, I suggest dinner at Rustic Root a restaurant that specializes in American Cuisine made with farm fresh local ingredients thoughtfully paired with timeless dishes to bring out their intended charm and simplicity. And if you really want to take in the Gaslamp Quarter sights at night, I would recommend taking a pedicab. So much fun!

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Coronado Central Beach

When in Sand Diego, you must visit the Coronado Central Beach voted #1 beach in America. It’s a 1.5 mile long, wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers and the beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking. Plus, salt water, sunshine and serenity, what’s not to love?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

There are tons more places to visit and things to see and do but this is a good starter list for the first time San Diego visitor.I highly recommend road tripping with your favorite people because it makes everything so much more fun. And if you ever get the chance to do Karaoke with a live band like Rock Out Karaoke, do it! Where’s your favorite place to road trip?

New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado_RockOutKaraoke

If you’ve been to San Diego, what’s your favorite place to visit on a San Diego Road Trip?

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New KIA Eco-Dynamic Vehicles, Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

Disclosure: I was invited to San Diego for a press event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. All opinions are my own.

Road trips and travel are things that I thrive on. The open sky, ocean, and road call to my soul. The wanderlust is strong with me. Seriously, put me on a plane, train, boat or automobile to anywhere and I’ll have a good time immersing myself in the culture and surrounding myself with the people. I look at every new destination as an opportunity for adventure and we’re teaching our daughters to embrace the journey as much as the destination.

Now that you have an understanding of my absolute adoration of travel and road trips, I’d love to share one of my most recent trips with you. A few weeks ago, KIA invited me to a ride and drive event in beautiful (heaven on earth, as I like to call it) San Diego, California.

The icing on the cake, I got to road trip and explore all over the city in my pick of the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles. I drove the all new eco-dynamic Niro and the Optima Hybrid EX. But also available were the SOUL EV and the Optima Plug-in Hybrid.

 

I explored San Diego with my girls, Becky Boricua and Wendy Nielsen jamming out to Despacito on the amazing Harmon Kardon sound system (sorry about the repeat playlist Wendy. You were a good sport) and we had a blast. It was so nice to drive around knowing that the whole trip wasn’t leaving a nasty carbon footprint.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The new line is not only eco-friendly and good for the earth (which hello, with Trump’s recent antics pulling out of the Paris Act, we definitely need to do all that we can to help take care of this planet for our children’s sake) but they are also fun to drive. I think they are the perfect marriage of beautiful, fun and budget-friendly.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Niro, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

A few fun facts about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line that maybe you didn’t know. Firstly, did you know that KIA is the only car company on the planet to earn the environmental validation award? I am all for helping the environment. I have a crunchy streak in me a mile wide but there’s a lot I didn’t know about eco- friendly vehicles and I don’t think I’m the only one.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

The Optima Hybrid that I drove was completely redesigned for the 2017 model and gets 39 miles per gallon (MPG) city and 46 MPG highway. Since it’s a hybrid, you have the best of both worlds; eco-friendly but still get that torque for a little extra kick. Don’t think an eco-dynamic vehicle can be badass? You would be wrong. You should hear the 630-watt Harmon-Kardon sound system in the new Kia line. The Optima plug-in hybrid can drive from San Francisco to San Diego without stopping, on one battery charge. What? That’s pretty amazing, right? Now, if only I could get m bladder to go as long as that battery.

 

Kia, Eco-Dynamic, Optima, Hybrid, #theNewKia, San Diego, Coronado

 

If you are looking for something a little bigger, the Niro gets the best mileage around at 76.6. mpg. It is a hybrid with some kick. Want to be an eco-warrior? This is the vehicle for you.

Still not convinced, here are 5 reasons why you should choose the new KIA eco-dynamic vehicles for your next road trip:

1. They are good for the environment (duh).
2. They will save you money.
3. They are loads of fun to drive (I know from experience.)
4. The government supports eco-friendly vehicles and there are perks like preferred parking up close for plug-ins and HOV lane access.
5. Never worry about running out of gas and being late again because you forgot to fill up the tank the night before. Simply plug it in at night and go on your way in the morning.

In case you are worried that you are going to run out of juice on the road, don’t be. The battery can charge while you drive. Worried what effect plugging in and charging up with have on your electric bill? Don’t be. The cost is 12 to 15 cents a kilowatt so for the Optima, that averages out to be about $1.50 a day to recharge. You can even contact your local electric company and, in some cases, get lower charging rates in the evening! Who knew it was so easy to be kind to the planet? What are you waiting for?

If you have any other questions about KIA’s new eco-dynamic line, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try my best to get you the answers. Also, the news just came out that after ranking highest in 2016, the new KIA keeps the top spot for 2017 and has more segment award winners than any other brand!

What is your favorite new KIA eco-dynamic vehicle?

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Wayfair, couchgating, tailgating, football

Are you ready for some football? I’ve always wanted to say that. Seriously, do you love football? I do. It’s right up there with Cubs baseball (Go Cubs Go), Blackhawks hockey, ballet, gymnastics and cheer. What can I say, I love me some eclectic group of sports?

I love the ritual of watching sports. I love the excitement, the tailgating and the group outing aspect but I don’t particularly care for being outside in inclement weather. In the same way that I adore the idea of sleeping out under the stars in a national park but in reality, I need a yurt with Wi-Fi and a bed. I want it all; the best of both worlds. I’m a complex bird, okay.

I especially love tailgating. I have since my days at Purdue but I don’t really want to suffer for my recreation unless that suffering includes bad penny beers and wings at a packed sports pub. That’s why couchgating is perfect for me now that the weather has started getting a little chillier out but to be honest, I prefer being inside when it’s hot out too.

Tailgating is a blast until you can’t eat your hot dog because your freezing to death and your teeth are chattering so badly that you can’t get the damn thing in your mouth and your beer has frozen in the red solo cup. Think I’m joking? Just try tailgating at the Oaken Bucket game in November in Indiana. It’s also not so much fun when it’s 100 degrees out and you’re doing everything in your power not to sweat your face off or smell like a pig’s pen.

I prefer couchgating in my house with family and friends gathered around a big screen and pot luck food simmering in crock pots while, depending on the weather, the party ebbs and flows in and out of the house. Maybe there is some cooking on the grill, a little corn hole and beer pong during halftime or we just stay inside and stay warm. That’s the beauty of it; there’s options and they are all warm and comfortable unless you prefer to freeze. Totally up to you. I’ll be inside nibbling from the charcuterie tray and sipping on some sangria.

Here are my picks to help host the perfect couchgating party!

 


Deborah C.

Couchgating Done Right
Deborah C.
Dual Tap Freestanding Beer Dispenser

Dual Tap Freestanding Beer Dispenser
Kegco
Margaritaville® Key West™ Frozen Concoction Maker

Margaritaville® Key West™ Frozen Concoction Maker
Margaritaville
Appetizers on Ice with Lids Keeps Acrylic Tray

Appetizers on Ice with Lids Keeps Acrylic Tray
Prodyne
Freezable Beer Pong Rack Set

Freezable Beer Pong Rack Set
GoPong
Cheers 16 oz. Pint Glass (Set of 4)

Cheers 16 oz. Pint Glass (Set of 4)
Chloe and Madison
Taverna Pint Glass

Taverna Pint Glass
Arte Italica
Gold Luster 20 oz. Stemless Wine Glass (Set of 4)

Gold Luster 20 oz. Stemless Wine Glass (Set of 4)
Fitz and Floyd
Barock Round Soup Spoons (Set of 6)

Barock Round Soup Spoons (Set of 6)
WMF Americas
Rustic Cheese Fork Marker Set

Rustic Cheese Fork Marker Set
Epicureanist

Today I’m teaming up with my friends at Wayfair.com to show you how to host the perfect couchgating party right at home! I am also sharing a couple of my personal favorite appetizer recipes, Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for warm artichoke and bacon dip with homemade chips and Bobby Flay’s sangria pops.

 

Wayfair, couchgating, tailgating, football, sangria pops, warm artichoke and bacon dip

Warm Artichoke and Bacon Dip

Total Time:45 min

Prep:10 min
Cook:35 min
Yield:6 to 8 servings
Level:Easy

Ingredients

Pita Chips:
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 to 4 pita breads
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Dip:
Butter, for greasing the baking dish
5 strips thick-cut bacon
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, optional
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 8-ounce bag frozen artichokes, thawed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (16 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

For the pita chips:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder and cumin. Drizzle the tops of the pita breads with the oil and sprinkle with the spice mixture and salt. Cut each pita bread into 8 wedges and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.
For the dip:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round ceramic deep-dish pie pan or a 1-quart baking dish.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and bacon and cook until crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, crumble into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside. In the same skillet, add the oil (if needed), shallots, garlic, artichokes, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until the shallots are translucent and the artichokes begin to brown, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to a food processor. Add the mascarpone cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, 1/2 of the cooked bacon pieces and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse until combined but still chunky. Place the dip in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining bacon pieces. Bake until just warmed through (do not let the dip boil), 10 minutes. Serve the pita chips alongside.
Wayfair, couchgating, tailgating, football, sangria pops

Sangria Pops

Total Time: 8 hr 35 min

Prep:15 min
Inactive:8 hr
Cook:20 min
Yield:makes 10 to 12 ice pops
Level:Easy
Ingredients
1 (750-ml) bottle fruity red wine
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/4 cup simple syrup
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons red grape juice
2 apples, cored and chopped
2 oranges, chopped
2 ripe pears, chopped

Directions

In a medium saucepan, reduce the wine to about 2 1/2 cups. While still hot, add the remaining ingredients and steep overnight, refrigerated.
Strain the mixture and fill ice pop molds; freeze until solid.

Then enjoy your football the it was intended to be; with friends, family, good food and soe tasty cocktails. What’s your favorite couchgating recipe?

 

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Linda Fairstein, Killer Look, Swarovski, Touchstone crystal,fashion

It’s Friday! Summer is winding down but we’ve got a few lazy weekends left until the leaves start changing color. I don’t know about you but I am looking more forward to this long weekend than I used to look forward to Friday nights when I was in my 20’s.

I can’t wait to sleep in and have no place to be. Sure, I’d love to be lounging on a beach somewhere but to be honest, after the week we’ve had, that even sounds like too much effort. I just want to relax and enjoy my family. I’m thinking sleeping in, lounging by the pool, cooking out, an outdoor movie and s’mores and wine sound like the plan for me this weekend. Maybe even sneak in a little reading of something other than work related reading.

Linda Fairstein has a new novel KILLER LOOK and it is page-turner, crime, mystery set in NYC in the fashion world. Anyone who really knows me knows that I have a fashion addiction and a minor in criminology, so this is right up my alley.

A little bit about Killer Look, New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, well-known for its glamour and style. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the runway, where American haute couture continually astounds with its creativity, daring, and innovation in the name of beauty. Yet high fashion means high stakes, as Alex Cooper quickly discovers when businessman and designer Wolf Savage is found dead in an apparent suicide, mere days before the biggest show of his career. When the man’s daughter insists Savage’s death was murder, the case becomes more than a media sensation: It is a race to find a killer in a world created entirely out of fantasy and illusion.
With her own job at the DA’s office in jeopardy, and the temptation to self-medicate her PTSD with alcohol almost too strong to resist, Alex is not anyone’s first choice for help. But she is determined to uncover the grime—and the possible homicide—beneath the glitz. Along with detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, Alex must penetrate the twisted roots and mixed motives among the high-profile players in the Garment District. The investigation takes the trio from the missing money in Wolf Savage’s international fashion house to his own recovery from addiction; from the role of Louisiana Voodoo in his life to his excessive womanizing; and to the family secrets he kept so well-hidden, even from those closest to him—just as things are about to get deadly on the catwalk.

I don’t know about you but even the synopsis has me on the edge of my seat. With Killer Look, Linda Fairstein proves once again why she is the “Queen of Intelligent Suspense.” And why shouldn’t she be? Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is America’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. She, herself, is the inspiration for Mariska Hargitay’s character on Law and Order SVU! Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

What makes a book about fashion and suspense even better? Getting to wear a little fashion bling yourself while engrossing yourself in a great book!

Linda Fairstein, Killer Look, Swarovski, Touchstone crystal,fashion

Thanks to Touchstone and Linda Fairstein, I’m giving away a Swarovski’s Touchstone Crystal Chanelle necklace, a special necklace that is modeled on a famous Swarovski Coco Chanel necklace that was “brought back from the Swarovski archives” by Touchstone Crystal and a copy of Killer Look for one lucky reader!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter by telling me what your favorite Killer Look Touchstone piece is and why.

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oxiclean, babies grow up, sponsored

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Maker of OxiClean™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about their Versatile Stain Remover, all opinions are my own.

Every May, our neighborhood has an annual garage sale, and every single year, I say I am NOT going to participate. Yet, once again, here I am sifting through tubs and memories; feeling all the feelings.

It’s hard selling your memories, especially of your children. I just have a problem with it people trying to haggle with me over things that are so precious to me. It’s like every time someone offers me a dollar for my daughter’s newborn rompers or her tiny shoes, I want to shake them and ask, “Don’t you know who wore this? MY baby, that’s who!” I know, I’m so dramatic when it comes to letting go. I fully realize I have a problem.

But I always say, if you are going to do something, do it all the way. So, if I’m going to sell my daughters’ belongings, they need to be at their best. That means clothes and bedding need to be stain free and freshly laundered. I mean, who is going to want to buy clothes that are dirty or look worn? I want them to look fresh.

oxiclean, babies grow up, sponsored

This year, I took all the linens and bedroom sets and washed them in OxiClean™.

It helps to give them that new, fresh look. OxiClean™ does a great job of restoring vibrancy to all the household items that I might want to sell at my garage sale, like the kids’ uniforms they’ve outgrown, princess bedding and even those precious baby clothes.

oxiclean, babies grow up, sponsored

As I was going through the bins, my heartstrings were being tugged at pretty hard and I know, for a fact, that my ovaries were about to explode.  You forget how tiny your babies once were until you are holding those tiny clothes in your hands while looking at the 5-foot, 3-inch 11-year-old she’s become. That’ll make you just want to stop time in that instant.

One problem that I am running into is that I packed clean clothes away and as I am struggling to go through the bins and distinguish which clothes are worthy of keeping for my future imaginary grandchildren and which ones are deserving to go on living their gently used lives elsewhere, I keep finding clothes with magical baby stains. It’s not food. It looks like stains have appeared where saliva once was but I don’t understand it because they’ve been washed.

Oxiclean can help you hold on to the things you love.

Here I am torn because on one hand these clothes are so precious to me but on the other hand, they are completely useless because they are stained. They are no good to anyone stained. I’m not putting my precious; someday-imaginary granddaughters in stained clothing even if their moms wore them, and you certainly can’t sell stained clothing. This garage sale is huge and I’ve made a name for myself as the place to go to get awesome little girls’ clothing. Stains will ruin all of that.

What am I supposed to do? Then I decided to try something different. In the past, I just considered it a wash and either threw the clothes out or put them back in the bins from whence they came because I couldn’t bear to throw them out. Seriously, I have a baby clothes hoarding problem. I just can’t get enough of that new baby smell. Also, every time I touch a piece of their baby clothes, I am transported back in time and I can see them in that piece of clothing and then how can I be expected to throw anything out?

oxiclean, babies grow up, sponsored

Today, I decided to try something different and pretreat those gently loved pieces with a little OxiClean™ soak to see if I could get some of those magically appearing, after-the-fact stains out of those precious baby clothes. You know, the ones that touched my precious babies once upon a time?

Guess what?

Oxiclean worked!

Now, once again, I’m faced with that red wire, blue wire dilemma; do I hoard all the baby clothes for my imaginary, someday, maybe granddaughters or do I sell them? With these stains gone, they look brand new, but I think it may be time to let some of these clothes go on to be loved by someone else’s precious little girls.

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hefty, money saving tips, budget friendly tips for the kitchen, budget friendly tips, Tips for Keeping Your Kitchen Clean, How to enjoy your summer

My house has been a mess all summer. My kitchen has been the worst. It’s been difficult changing my routine and getting used to the girls being home. Don’t even get me started on the dish situation in this house this summer. Between the traveling, the summer entertaining, sleep overs and flow of other people’s children in and out of my house, we have more dirty dishes than a school cafeteria and I thought the never ending laundry was out of control. I do dishes at least 3 times a day and I am never caught up.

I don’t know about you but my girls tend to dirty dishes like they are in some sort of dirtying dishes and destroying my kitchen contest. Speaking of which, is there some symbiotic way for dishes and trash to breed? Because if there is, I’m quite sure the trash and dishes in my kitchen have figured it out. It’s a full time job keeping up with it and it doesn’t even pay.

What are my choices? It’ not like I’m going to stop letting my daughters have their friends over, isn’t that what summer’s all about. I’m also not going to stop entertaining because aren’t friends, family and having fun together making memories the good things life is filled with? So what if people dirty dishes and make messes, I like my life messy. It makes it feel lived in and loved on.

What I don’t want to do in the middle of all of this wonderful living, most of which happens in the heart of my house, the kitchen, is to go broke, be wasteful or have a disgusting house that people are afraid to visit. My kitchen is the natural gathering space in my house and I’ve just learned to embrace that fact.

When all the kids are over and I’m feeding more than just my two or I’m going for the little splurges in life like a hot fudge sundae bar party for a group of energetic 9 to 11-year-olds, I need to stay on top of the state of my house without turning into the crazy lady who made it not fun because she was so worried about the mess. I know you know what I mean. We’ve all been there; that moment when we need to let it go but we can’t.

I want to do all these things but I need to find ways to do it on a budget and while not letting my kitchen spin out of control into a heaping pile of strewn garbage on counters and dirty dishes (and we all know how fast a sundae bar can go south with a group of excited little girls.)

Below are a few tips to save money in the kitchen so that you have it extra for life’s sweet splurges and also how to keep yourself from spending all of your free time washing dishes.

Well, unless you want to put all those extra kids to work in your kitchen. No, probably not the best idea.

save money in the kitchen,hefty, money saving tips, budget friendly tips for the kitchen, budget friendly tips, Tips for Keeping Your Kitchen Clean, How to enjoy your summer

Tip #1 You need durable garbage bags.

Hefty Ultra Strong bags are an outstanding quality for cleaning up all the mess your creating while having all that fun this summer. At a new, lower price it’s a value especially when you consider the durability, Arm & Hammer odor neutralizers and new, invigorating scents that help to keep odors at bay so even when your kitchen is full of people, the smell of garbage won’t be overwhelming your guests. Plus, a scent-free option for those who prefer it that way! Add to all of this a top-quality performance with active tear resistant technology that provides better puncture resistance and you can feel secure knowing there is less likelihood you’re going to leave a streak of shame while transporting garbage from inside the house to the outside. We’ve all done it and it’s bad enough alone, no one wants to do this in front of a house full of party goers?

save money in the kitchen, hefty, money saving tips, budget friendly tips for the kitchen, budget friendly tips, Tips for Keeping Your Kitchen Clean, How to enjoy your summer

The best part is that you can easily pick these bags up at your local Walmart or Target to try them. Plus  you can go on Ibotta and earn $1.00 cash back via Ibotta after purchasing one box of Hefty trash bags. Or you can go on Coupons.com and save $1.00 off one box of Hefty trash bags.

Tip #2 Paper products are your friend

There was a time when I would have scoffed at the idea but now that I have two growing children and lots of extra people coming and going, eating and drinking (and can someone tell me why little girls need a new glass every single time they drink anything?) in my house, I know the value of disposable paper products. Plastic cups and sturdy paper plates can save you a lot of time in the kitchen and a lot of aggravation. Just enjoy your people and forget about who’s going to do the dishes and when it’s going to get done. At the end of the party, just put it all in the garbage back and forget about it.

Tip #3 Use a Canning Jar to Keep Leftover Wine Fresh for Up to a Week

I learned this one from Food52 and I love it. I love good wine but my husband is allergic to sulfites so I don’t normally buy the wine I like because I can’t drink and entire bottle by myself and I didn’t want to waste it. Anyways, by limiting the wine’s contact with air, which contains the oxygen that causes wine to oxidize this trick accomplishes the same goal by using a jar that is slightly smaller than the amount of wine to be stored. Place the jar on a kitchen towel and fill to the very top. When the lid is screwed on, the jar should overflow a little, which lets you know there is no air between the lid and the wine. According to the wine experts who gave Food52 this tip, wine stored this way will last up to a week. It’s a total win. I save my wine. I save my money and then I saved money again because, just so happens my dad worked at Ball glass my entire life and we have loads of mason jars, so no need to buy a fancy wine saving gadget or even new mason jars!

Tip #4 Keep Berries Fresh Longer

Who doesn’t love berries in the summer? We buy in bulk. The only problem is that berries ripen quickly in the warm weather and sometimes you end up throwing out an entire container. That not only hurts my heart it hurts my pocketbook. Wash your berries before storage in a diluted vinegar bath (1 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of water). Then place in a salad spinner lined with paper towel and spin them until they are completely dry (if you don’t do this, it will actually accelerate the rotting process). Store your cleaned berries in a sealable container lined with paper towels. I actually put a piece of paper towels between each level of berries to help soak up any excess water. Leave the lid open so that moisture can escape. Moisture is the enemy. According to Lifehacker, this method extends the shelf life of berries by days and the vinegar destroys bacteria and mold spores on the berries, helping them stay fresh longer.

What’s your best tip to save money in the kitchen?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed  about how to save money in the kitchen are all my own.

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