Thursday, February 27, 2014

Together, we can END IT.

Last year, I became a part of the End It Movement, a campaign to spread awareness that slavery still exists...even here, in America. I wrote a post about some ways you can help, and my feelings after discovering that such a travesty was still taking place in our country. You can read it here, if you like.

27 MILLION people are still in slavery, right. this. moment.

Today, February 27, is Shine A Light On Slavery Day. If you're on twitter or Facebook, you're probably seeing pictures like this everywhere...

...along with hashtags like #EndIt, #EndItMovement and #ShineALight. Why? Here are some reasons...

~ Every minute of every day, 2 children are sold into slavery.

~ In 1850, the cost of a slave was around $40,000. Today, the average cost is $90.

~ Todays slavery includes human trafficking, forced labor, child labor and descent based slavery.

~ Children are being sold for commercial sex exploitation, recruited into armed conflicts and forced to work as domestic workers.

~ An estimated 1.2 MILLION children are trafficked yearly. 

These facts, along with a lot more information can be found at Take a few moments to visit their site!

How can you help?

First, you can raise awareness. Draw a red X on your hand and share it on social media using the hashtags I posted above. When people ask what it's all about point them to blogs like this that explain the movement or directly to the website.

Last year I listed a few non-profits that you can reach out to (in the post listed in the first paragraph). You can visit those as well as visiting THIS page on EndIt's website. They have lots of places listed that you can easily donate to as well.

They've also set up a great little online shop that you can find HERE.

Join with us, and together, we can END IT.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Daily Routines {Probiotics, my new Moisturizer & favorite sites}

Awhile back, I asked you for advice on your favorite face moisturizers since I was having trouble with the one I was using. You had some great suggestions (thank you again!) and I ended up finally finding one I love from Neutrogena. I've been using it for several weeks now and it's been great for my skin! It's the Light Night Cream and its very light, and non-greasy feeling. If I forget to put it on at night, I'll apply it underneath my makeup. Its great for my sensitive skin!
At the start of the year I decided to visit a local natural food and medicine store. I was looking for a probiotic and something for my energy levels, so after consulting with them, I picked up this liquid B12 and a general probiotic. I've added this to my daily routine (I also drink a big glass of Naked juice everyday to get more than my daily serving of fruits and veggies) and I love the way I've been feeling. Do you take a probiotic? Which one do you love? 

Another part of my daily routine is to check my daily deals sites. I like to do this first thing in the morning, right after I wake up. The four I check every day are Groopdealz, Jane,  Zulily and RueLaLa. This is my latest purchase from Jane.

It's funny because I had a bracelet just like this and then it got super tarnished. I was bummed because it's my favorite piece to wear, and then I saw it pop up for like $4 on Jane so I had to buy another! I've seen it on Groopdealz too!

What sites do you check daily?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lunch with Rachael Ray

Last week I attended the local Go Red for Women luncheon, since my mom is part of their foundation. She has been a supporter of the event since she had her open heart surgery in Cleveland two years ago. You can read about that here if you like.  


This years event had a very special guest, one of my favorite TV personalities, Rachael Ray! I was really excited to get to see her. It ended up being a very short and sweet appearance since it was sweeps week for her morning show. She literally flew in on a private jet, was driven over to the venue, spoke for 20 minutes and flew right back out. She seemed pretty tired (who can blame her!) but she was very funny, articulate and shared some great stories. She also brought her adorable dog Isaboo with her!

Since this was right before Valentines Day, she shared that instead of buying John (her husband) roses, she buys him a dozen different salamis! I thought that was pretty cute. Maybe I should amend my Valentines Day gift ideas post to include that one, ha!

It was so much fun to get to see Rachael. I've always said that there are only two shows I'd ever like to see taped live...The Price Is Right (who wouldn't want to play Pinko!?) and the Rachael Ray Show, so this was a very special treat!

Have you ever seen a live show? Which one?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Our Valentines Day in iPhone Photos

I wish Valentines Day was on a Friday every year! It seems more fun and special when it falls on a Friday.

Anyway, I went upstairs on Friday morning to find this in Brayden's room:

We say that Brayden is going to be an architect because he is constantly building massive structures in his room with lincoln logs. The things he can put together are really amazing. He also loves spelling things with his lincoln logs. Chris helped him spell "I Love Mommy" and he also made a heart. Awww! 

Brayden had school on Friday so Chris, Brody and I went and picked him up for a special family lunch date. 

We took him back to school for his Valentines Day party. Brody had his party on Wednesday [I'm Brody's homeroom mom this year, so I did the all would have been proud of me getting my craft on with the 3 year olds ;-) ]

That night we had planned to go eat at our new favorite restaurant, Chuy's, but even though we got there at 4:30 it was PACKED. It opened last month and the frenzy still hasn't died down. Instead, we grabbed takeout from Chuy's and ate it at home. 

 These are my Valentines cards from the boys. Brayden picked out a wonder woman card and Brody went with one of our favorites, Doc McStuffin's.

I promised to tell you what I got Chris, but first I have to show you what he got me. Something you might not know about me is I'm obsessed with all things British. We're redoing my office at home in Union Jack everything. Toms are my favorite shoes (I love their message) and the Union Jack is one of my favorite designs, so he had Toms custom painted for me. I LOVE THEM!!!!! 

I got Chris a couple of things. I know I left you hanging on my post of ideas (here)! The first thing is this 20*30 map. It's mounted on foam board so we can put push pins in it and map out all the places we want to visit. I consider this our version of a bucket list. ;-)

 I also got him this tshirt because I just couldn't resist...

And his last gift hasn't arrived yet but I ordered him the leather cuff from this post and had the longitude latitude coordinates of the church we got married in stamped onto the metal.

Chris knew I'd been dying to watch Austenland since reading the book (you can see my review here, if you like) so after the kids went to sleep, we rented it. The movie was cute, though it didn't stick strictly to the book.

I hope everyone had a great Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Beer Marinated Fajitas


I really feel like that's all that needs said about this.

Sometimes, I cheat. I buy store bought marinade, throw some chicken in it and then cook it up. So easy. But, when I have the time (and the forethought) I love to make these fajitas. They are so delicious and flavorful, and yes, the alcohol cooks off. 

Pair them with my homemade flour tortillas and you've got yourself a meal.

P.S. - This marinade is great for chicken and beef. Double yum.

Beer Marinated Fajitas

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
OR 1 flank steak
1 bottle of beer (I use Blue Moon)
3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 a jalapeño, slices into rings
1.5 Tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Freshly ground pepper
1 small yellow onion
1 small red onion
1 bell pepper (any color)
Tortillas (RECIPE HERE)

In a ziplock bag, combine beer, soy sauce, lime juice, jalapeño rings, garlic, onion powder and pepper. Mix well. Add in your meat of choice. Note: If using flank steak, leave steak whole. If using chicken you can either slice it and then cook it on the stove OR leave it whole and grill it.

Let marinate overnight or at least 4-5 hours for chicken and 7-8 hours for beef.

Slice onions and bell pepper. Cook over medium heat in a pan with 1 Tablespoon EVOO, salt and a little pepper. Once they are nice and brown pull them out. If using sliced chicken, cook in a sauté pan with 1 Tablespoon EVOO. For whole chicken/flank steak, grill, then slice.

Serve on warm flour tortillas.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Another Snow Day...or three...or five...

Arkansas seems to be trying to set a record number of snow days this winter. I really don't mind...I love being "stuck" at the house with my kids, watching movies, coloring pictures, baking sweet treats. And they love playing in the snow! We have some great sledding hills in the backyard which we take full advantage of.

We did finally break out of the house 2 nights ago to go to, you guessed it, Starbucks. And yesterday I met up with a high school friend of mine and her two sweet little kids. Speaking of which, will you join me in praying for her daughter Natalie? If you follow me on Twitter you've probably seen me mention her. She has been in and out of Arkansas Children's Hospital and she is headed to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for a second opinion.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Southwestern Corn Dip

I love a good dip, and this one combines several of my favorite things.

The best part?

You can serve this hot or cold

I actually prefer it cold, but for our Super Bowl party, I heated it in the oven, because I thought the rest of our group would like it best that way.

Southwestern Corn Dip
Serves a crowd

4 cups frozen (or fresh!) yellow corn kernels
1 red onion, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1/2 a jalepeno, minced (remove seeds and ribs)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped green onion (white and green parts)
1.25 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1.25 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup mayo (not miracle whip)
1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon EVOO
Salt and Pepper

In a HOT pan, melt butter and toss in corn. Cook over medium high until corn begins to turn golden brown. Sprinkle with salt. Remove corn from pan once it's nicely golden.

Add EVOO to pan. Saute onion and bell pepper until onions are translucent and beginning to brown. Sprinkle with a little salt. Once golden, add jalepeno and garlic. Cook 2 minutes and remove from pan. Add to bowl with corn.

Combine remaining ingredients (cheeses, green onion, mayo, cheeses, hot sauce) in the bowl with the corn and onion mixture. Mix well. Stop here if you want to serve this cold.

To serve hot, place corn dip in a baking dish, bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

10 Unique Valentines Day Gift Ideas for HIM!

Is it just me, or is shopping for your husband for Valentines Day ridiculously difficult? I always feel like the Valentines Day gifts need to be loaded with meaning, thought and love. I think I am becoming a gift giving over achiever but I blame this on Chris. He is the gift giving KING.

This year, I'm on a winning streak. I started keeping a notes page in my phone when I was working on this years 150 Stocking Stuffers list, and then it occurred to me to do the same thing just for my family members. If someone said there was something in particular that they liked or wanted, I'd write it in my phone (because my memory is AWFUL).

Thanks to that little trick I would just like to say that I totally owned Christmas gift giving this year, and I plan to do the same this Valentines Day. I wish I could tell you which of the following gifts my husband will be receiving this year but I can't because he reads my blog (awww).

I will update you after Valentines Day and let you know what I got him though. ;-)

I love this idea - a manly looking leather cuff bracelet with the latitude and longitude coordinates of a place that means something special to you. You could use the coordinates of where you got engaged or married, or the hospital where you had your kids. The possibilities are endless, and this is one of those great personalized gifts that is still very masculine.

Longitude Latitude Bracelet from Dakota Designs.

One of my husbands favorite gifts ever was when I had his very favorite Chicago pizzeria ship him one of their pizzas. In fact, he loved it SO much that I did it again the next year. Chris LOVES Giordanos pizza, and it's always our first stop when we're in Chicago. You can order your own heart shaped deep dish pizza from them too! Click here to visit their site. 

Picture courtesy of Giordanos.

This next one is kind of funny. This could be your husbands go to, get out of the dog house free pass. I really kind of love it. ;-)

I Love My Wife T-shirt from Sun Frog.

This is a really fun and creative idea. I've been talking with Chris about having a map made that we can mark out all of the places we want to go visit during our lifetime. I wanted something that we could use push pins on and color coordinate them based on places we've been, want to go, etc. I found this great shop on Etsy that does just that. You can even add pictures on the side of it if you want. 

World Map from TexturedINK.

I love this idea for any of you who have musically inclined husbands. SnappinPicks on Etsy has lots of adorable pick jewelry. This particular piece can also be purchased as a necklace. 

For the quintessential bacon loving man, you have got to try Nueske's Bacon. It has been a favorite of ours for years. It is seriously the very best bacon I've ever had. You can get your man the Bacon Sampler Pack here.

Image courtesy of Nueske's

For you crafty types, here's a great one. Make your own scratcher card for your man! Alison over at Oopsey Daisy has a great tutorial on how you can make your own adorable scratcher, and she even includes a free printable. Check it out here

Image courtesy of Oopsey Daisy

For the grill master, you should check out a custom cutting board. I love this one from Williams-Sonoma

If you have a long distance love or maybe you've moved from one state to another, these mugs would make a great gift. It's the outline of the state with a heart on the place you live(d). I love the clean design! Check them out at Mady's Musings on Etsy.

Lastly, who doesn't love a homemade treat? This is especially great if you don't bake a ton (it just makes it that much more special!). Bake up a tray of goodies just for your man - he can take them to work and brag about you! Try my Valentines Cookie Bars. They're super easy and delicious!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Valentines Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Valentines day goodies are so much fun to make. I love the pinks and reds that you can incorporate into your food, whether it be in the form of food coloring or replacing chocolate chips with colored candy. It just makes whatever you're cooking up seem a little more special than normal.

I love taking recipe requests, and one of the items I've been asked for recently was a cookie bar. I have a couple posted on the blog already (Double Chocolate Cookie Bars and Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie Bars) but I think this is actually my very favorite cookie bar recipe. Give it a try - I think you'll like it.

Valentines Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Yield: 15 large or 20 smaller bars


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted 
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ Tablespoon vanilla 
1 cup Valentines M&M’s (red, white, pink)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line a 9x13” baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix together flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk melted butter and sugars in until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla.

Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and M&M’s. Pour batter into lined and sprayed pan, smoothing out the top evenly.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until the bars are evenly light golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Let cool and then use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan. Remove to board and cut into squares for serving.
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