Managing Dairy Sensitivity with LACTAID®

Disclosure: I have received information and materials from JOHNSON & JOHNSON CONSUMER, Inc., McNeil Nutritionals, LLC Subsidiary the makers of LACTAID®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post and I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write it.

Salted Caramel Chip Ice CreamDoesn’t that ice cream look delicious? It’s Salted Caramel Chip and it tastes just as good as it looks and sounds. But, if you’re like me and sometimes have tummy troubles after indulging in your favorite dairy, you might have to pause and take a moment to decide if eating this delicious treat is worth the potential rumbling tummy later. No worries, friends! I have great news… This ice cream won’t leave your tummy rumbling, grumbling or otherwise unhappy! This is real dairy ice cream made by LACTAID®.

Dinner with FriendsAll dairy sensitivities aren’t the same and not everyone who recognizes that dairy messes with them identifies as lactose intolerant. I’m one of those people. Dairy gives me issues. I’ve never considered myself lactose intolerant though, and still don’t. My stomach doesn’t always give me trouble when I enjoy dairy, but I know the possibility always exists.
Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some degree of dairy sensitivity? 75% of the population globally has some type of dairy sensitivity. Looking at the numbers, of my dinner mates and I above, at least 2 of us have issues with dairy and maybe even more! If you have issues with dairy, you definitely aren’t alone. LACTAID® Dairy Products are the perfect solution for everyone whether they have occasional trouble with dairy or are a severe sufferer.

Lactaid Milk and CookiesCookies and milk are a timeless pair. A warm cookie just isn’t the same without a tall glass of milk. LACTAID® is real milk just without the lactose so it has the same great taste and nutritional benefits but won’t mess with your stomach. And, since dairy sensitivity isn’t always predictable, LACTAID® is a safe bet anytime and for anyone, whether you have dairy issues that are lifelong or they’re something new as you’ve gotten older.

Lactaid Cottage CheeseWhen I was younger, managing my dairy sensitivity was easy. I simply avoided dairy. It wasn’t the right way to handle it then, and as I get older and my body needs the calcium more than ever, it’s not the right way to handle it now. I love cottage cheese. I want to eat cottage cheese. I need to eat cottage cheese. LACTAID® Dairy Products have made it easy for me to grab a quick cottage cheese and fruit snack without having to worry about spending the rest of my afternoon in the bathroom or just with an uncomfortable rumbling tummy. My life is too busy for the interruptions and distractions either of those side effects of dairy sensitivity can cause.

Lactaid ice creamWith flavors like Salted Caramel Chip, LACTAID® ice cream lets you indulge in ice cream and your other dairy favorites safely and without worry.  Get all the details about LACTAID®, including the flavors and varieties available, by visiting the LACTAID® website.  There is even a recipe converter you can use to make your own lactose free recipes using LACTAID®s.  You can also connect with LACTAID® on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Posted in Health/Wellness | Leave a comment

Tips for Surviving Chronic Back Pain

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by LivRelief and may contain affiliate links.  Thoughts and opinions shared are my own.

Tips for Surviving Chronic Back Pain

If you’ve never experienced chronic pain, count yourself lucky.  If you’re a pain sufferer like me, I feel you.  I’ve dealt with chronic back pain since I was a teenager.  My pain is the result of a structural defect in my spine coupled with years of “use and abuse” (read – minor, avoidable, repeat injuries).  Over time, all of those things have added up and left me with a near constant pain in my back.  My pain levels vary from what most would consider a mild annoyance to the kind that makes it impossible to sleep.  My hips ache, my lower back aches and sometimes my shoulder muscles bunch up to the point of feeling the ache all the way down my arm.  It’s not a good feeling.

I’ve learned a lot of way over the years to help me deal with my chronic back pain.  Some are common sense, some are not.  Perhaps you’ll learn something you didn’t know, or maybe just have your suspicious confirmed.  Either way, these are my tips for dealing with chronic back pain.

LivRelief1. Don’t try to be a hero.  If it hurt, it hurts.  Treat your pain with a topical cream like LivRelief Pain Cream.  Last weekend, we cut down a tree in front of our house.  It was clear within a few hours of being back inside, my lower back was going to need some relief.  Twisting, bending and carrying heavy pieces of wood did me in.  There was no shame in reaching for LivRelief.  While there are many topical pain creams on the market, LivRelief is different.  First, more than 90% of the ingredients are natural, the active ingredient being capsaicin.  Second, there’s no nasty smell, no awkward tingling/burning sensation on your skin, and it is paraben, SLS, gluten and petroleum free.  LivRelief is available on Amazon and can be used to treat many types of pain, not just back pain.

LivRelief Pain Relief Cream

2. Don’t take pain sitting down.  Staying active is a huge in pain management.  Get up and move, take a yoga class (stretching does amazing things!) but don’t over do it.  Stay active with gentle exercises.  Even walking helps.  When you are sitting, make sure you have your back supported.  Grab a pillow if needed.  When I’m at my desk working, you will very often find me with a pillow positioned behind my back to give me some extra support.

3. Don’t cheap out on your shoes.  Skip the flimsy, no support flip flops and sandals and opt for some supportive shoes.  There are many great brands out there that offer great support and comfort, while maintaining a stylish look.  Yes, you will pay more for good shoes, but your back will thank you!

4. Know when to see a doctor.  If you’re suffering through pain and avoiding the doctor like the plague, give it up.  I know, I don’t like to spend my time in a waiting room either, but the fact of the matter is that a good doctor or chiropractor can help target the source of your pain and give you specifics on how to combat it.  On of the hardest parts of moving to Michigan from North Carolina was leaving my chiropractor.

5. Pay attention to your diet.  Junk in = junk out, right?  True, but did you also know there are risks associated with some of your favorite veggies?  The nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers) have been linked to muscle pain, stiffness, insomnia and other health issues.  Do your research first, but if you eat a lot of foods from this plant family, you might want to consider a trail period without them to see if you notice a difference.

LivRelief Old to New Box

My chronic back pain is never going away, but I try to keep it from interfering with my daily life as much as possible.  Being a good partner, mom and friend is important to me and being there and able to do the day to day things we all enjoy is a big part of that.  If chronic pain is getting you down, check out LivRelief on Amazon and do some research on your own type of chronic pain to see what lifestyle changes you can make to help keep you active and living life.

Buy LivRelief now and receive $2 off your purchase when you use promo code ONU56TLN during checkout on



Posted in Health/Wellness | 8 Comments

My Mazda3 Experience

Mazda 3 5-DoorAlmost two weeks ago, I got to experience a week-long test drive thanks to Mazda USA and Driveshop, and amazing marketing company who wants real people to share real life experiences with cars that go beyond the horsepower and technical specs.  Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on and experiences with the Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring.  Features vary by trim level, so check them all out at Mazda’s website.

I’ve spent my entire life around cars of every make and model, but this is only my second experience driving a Mazda.  My first was a long time ago, back when I was a teenager.  As I mentioned last month, we had been hoping to head North to the Saginaw Bay/Bay City area to take in the views and experience some of what the area has to offer.  Taking the Mazda3 5-Door out to stretch her legs was the perfect excuse.  The drive was about an hour and gave me a chance to experience the Mazda3 5-Door in a true ‘highway driving” experience.  We packed up Saturday morning and headed to the USS Edson, a retired Navy destroyer.

Mazda3 Saginaw BayFrom the moment you approach the Mazda3, the features start jumping out at you.  The Mazda3 has an advanced keyless entry system, letting you unlock the car without digging out your keys.  You won’t need to pull them out to start the car (push button start), so why have to dig them out to unlock it?  Once you start the car, more features spring to life, quite literally!  There is an awesome little display (called the Heads Up display) that raises behind the steering wheel on the dash, allowing you to see your MPH and even directions from the navigation system without taking your eyes off the road.  It is one of my favorite features.  The navigation system even alerts you to the speed limits where you’re driving and if you are exceeding them.  I also love that the display sits high and not down in the dash, just another feature helping you keep your eyes on the road.

Mazda 3 5-Door ConsoleThe controls for the entertainment/navigation display are situated right between the seats and are super easy to reach.  They use a joystick-like set up allowing ease of use without using your eyes.  Heated seats and dual zone temperature controls help everyone stay comfortable no matter what season, though I tried to enjoy the moonroof as often as possible.

Mazda 3 5-Door Steering WheelOn the road, my favorite feature was the Blind Spot Monitoring.  Really, it was a toss up between that and the Heads Up display.  Both revolutionized my driving experience.  If you’ve never driving a car with BSM, you have no idea what you’re missing.  I was able to stop craning my neck, worrying about whether I was missing anything in my mirror or not.  And, before using the Heads Up display, I never realized how much time I spent looking down at my speedometer.

As far as driveability, the car handled very well in both warm, sunny conditions and in the rain.  Our trip to the Bay City area was mostly highway driving, but my regular daily commute to and from work is mostly stop and go city traffic.  The Mazda3 accelerated well, braking was spot-on and even with most of my driving for the week being “city driving”, I still averaged over 30 miles per gallon for the week.  Blind Spot Monitoring was particularly helpful during my 50 mile (each way) commute, as was the Heads Up display.  I also very much enjoyed the apps on the Entertainment System, like Pandora.  I was able to connect my phone and stream my Pandora stations and other music on my phone through Blue Tooth.

Mazda 3 5-Door Red

The Mazda3 Grand Touring is a super sporty little ride.  And even though it is a smaller car, it is very roomy.  The trunk was a little tight, but as long as you aren’t hauling around huge baby gear or other large items, you’ll be fine.  The interior has a lot of nice details, like red stitching and leather trimmed seats, steering wheel and gear shift.  This model also comes with paddle shifters, if you want to switch over to a more sporty style of driving.  Me, I’ve never been one to shift gears, so I stayed away from that feature.  It has loads of exterior trim features, including awesome wheels and a shark in antenna.  I got multiple comments through the week about how “snazzy” the car looked.

Of course, I try to be super honest about my reviews, so there are a few things I want to mention.  These aren’t bad things necessarily, but things to keep in mind…

First, the super sporty exterior trim means the front of this car is very low.  You need to be careful when pulling up to a curb to make sure you don’t pull up too far.  This is pretty normal for most sporty looking cars, but still worth the mention.  Second, the cruise control is not adaptive.  I have to admit that adaptive cruise control is one of those things for me…especially with the amount of stop/go/slow down highway driving I do. If you have no idea what adaptive cruise control is, then never mind.  You won’t know what you’re missing.  Last, road noise.  The Mazda3 has low profile tires and low profile tires equal road noise.  It’s the norm for any car with low profile tires and might surprise you if this is your first experience with them.

All in all, the Mazda3 Grand Touring was a great, fun to drive car with tons of features.  I would recommend it for teens/young adults, couples with no kids, couples with older kids and empty-nesters.  If you’re lugging around a baby or very small child and all of the gear that goes with them, you might want to check out a larger vehicle in Mazda’s lineup.

When you’re car shopping, what features are most important to you?  Do you have a feature now in your vehicle that you just can’t live without?  Tell us about it in the comments below.  Or, if you’re a Mazda owner, we’d love to hear your experiences with the brand as well.  Happy driving!

Posted in Life in General, Reviews | 13 Comments

Making The Big Move – Cleaning Your New Home Before You Move In (Free Printable)

This post is sponsored by Acorn Influence in partnership with Proctor & Gamble.  The thoughts, opinions and experiences shared below are my own.  We hope you enjoy our move in cleaning tips.

Realistic Move In CleaniI don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but I feel like I’ve become a bit of an expert on moving.  I’ve moved four times in the last two years.  I’ve done whole family moves, divorce moves, moving in together moves, across town moves, and across several states moves.  I’ve learned through trial and error how to make sure the move into your new place goes as smooth as possible.

Moving in starts with moving out.  If you can manage some over lap between your moves, that is ideal. It give you a chance to thoroughly clean you new house before moving every thing in. Of course, you won’t always have that luxury, so be prepared to do a quick, but thorough  cleaning of the most  important parts before you start moving furniture into your new home.

Next, as you start packing up your old place, be aware of the things you will need first in your new home.  Make sure those items are packed together and are easily accessible.  See the printable below for a list of my “can’t miss” items. (To print, simply click on the image to open the full size version, then right click on the image and select “print”.)

Move In Cleaning ChecklistIf you’re in the position to do a top to bottom deep clean before you move, great!  If you’re not, you’re like most of us.  Instead of starting in one room and trying to clean everything, I suggest hitting a few key items through the whole house and save the items you can easily handle later for later!  The deciding factor for me in what I clean and what I come back to is “How easy will this task be to do once all of my furniture is in the house?”.

Let’s start at the top!  It makes sense to start at the top and work down, otherwise you’re just knocking dirt and dust down onto areas you may have already cleaned.

Wash Your Drapes and CurtainsThe previous owners of our new home left us these wonderful window treatments.  They also left us 10 years of dust piled up on top of them and in the folds of the valance.  Gross!  Taking down and thoroughly washing all of the draperies/curtains in the house is step 1 for me.  Tide® PODS® Laundry Detergent has is 3-in- 1 laundry solution — detergent, stain remover and brightener.  They also contain 90% cleaning ingredients, versus the 15% cleaning ingredients of the leading bargain detergent, making them an excellent choice for heavily soiled items.  And no matter what type of washing machine your new home has, Tide® PODS dissolve in any temperature and can be used in all types of washing machines.

Cleaning Your WindowsWhile you have the curtains down, you have the perfect opportunity to clean your windows and window sills.  I use a simple all purpose cleaning solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% distilled water and Bounty® Select-A-Size paper towels.  You can add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance, but I prefer the straight mixture myself.  I love these paper towels because they are absorbent and I can use more or less as I need.  They are great for cleaning pretty much any hard surface.

You can use Bounty® and the cleaning solution for your next task too, cleaning the baseboards.  Let’s be honest…if you move your furniture into the house and your baseboards get covered by a couch here and a table there, you’re going to forget about them or put off cleaning them because you don’t want to move furniture.

Cleaning Baseboards

Don’t forget the TP!  Most people don’t think about their toilet paper holders until they realize they don’t have what they need at a certain moment… So, while you’re cleaning, swing through your bathrooms and wipe down your toilet paper holders and pop on a new roll.  Charmin® Ultra Strong Double Rolls are perfect for that task.  They come in a 24 pack, giving you 48 rolls worth of that precious paper, and it’s 4x more absorbent than the leading bargain brands.  More absorbent toilet paper means you use less, and using less means you save money!

After you’ve tackled curtains, windows, window sills, and baseboards, you can move on to your floors.  You will want to thoroughly vacuum or sweep your floors to pick up any large debris (and trust me, after taking down the curtains, there will be dust bunnies/tumbleweeds).  After you’ve done that, grab your Swiffer® WetJet Mop and give your hard surface floors a good cleaning.  The tile floor in our finished basement was ridiculously dirty, but my Swiffer® WetJet made quick work of cleaning them up.  As you clean, you can see the dirt getting trapped inside the pad – not pushed around – and not having to run back and forth to wet and rinse a traditional mop makes the job go so much quicker.

Basement Wet BarOnce you’ve hit these major spots, take a deep breath.  Your house smells cleaner, right?  But, does it smell amazingly fresh?  No?  A quick spray of Unstopables™ Air Refresher will fix that.  The Fresh Scent has a crisp, bright smell that will make your home feel like home!  It reminds me of a fresh load of laundry and really makes home feel homey.  The scent lasts for up to 6 hours, so you can enjoy the refreshing scents all afternoon long.

Moving can be a stressful time, trust me – I know, but quality brands like Bounty® , Swiffer® , Tide® , Unstopables™and Charmin® make your move clean and simple.  You can pick up all of the products mentioned above as well as other great products offered by these brands at your local Walmart.


Posted in For the Home | 7 Comments

The Henry Ford Museum – Dearborn, Michigan (Detroit)

Douglas DC 3 Henry Ford Museum

Like most people, when I think of Henry Ford, my mind immediately goes to cars.  My dad is a mechanic.  I grew up around cars, drag racing and have always had a health appreciation for cars of all types.  My other half works for one of the major brands (he builds racing engines), and he owns a drag car, which we race through the summer.  When we discovered that there was The Henry Ford museum near Detroit, of course we decided to go check it out.

So, if it’s The Henry Ford, why is there a picture of a Douglas DC3 up there?  Well, much to our surprise, The Henry Ford is about WAY more than cars.  It’s about transportation in general and things that have shaped our lives as we know them.  There is also a really cool village adjoining the museum, Greenfield Village, showing what life was like in Henry’s time and some of the history that led up to the invention of the car.  I’ll share more on the village in another post.

Wright Brothers Plane at The Henry Ford

Planes, trains, automobiles and more would be a great tagline for The Henry Ford.  The place is HUGE and there is SO MUCH to explore.  In my opinion, it would be impossible to do the museum justice in one day.  We saw that pretty quickly and immediately circled back to turn our one-day tickets into a family season pass.  After taking care of that, we started our visit in the aviation area.  The big DC3 at the beginning of the post leads the way.  You can view the plane from below as well as an area above.  It was incredibly neat to read all of the specs on the plane, how many miles it traveled, how much fuel it burned, etc.  I would love to know how the numbers compare to our modern planes.

Being originally from North Carolina, being First in Flight was a big deal to us.  In reality, the Wright Brothers were from Ohio… the NC coast just happened to be the perfect place to test their experiments. We spent a ton of time learning about the Wright Brothers and the first flight in school.  It was incredibly neat to see a replica of the original plane (and we got to walk through the Wright Brother’s bike shop in Greenfield Village – Henry Ford had it moved here from Ohio).  Feeling the material that covered the wings, seeing the detail and fragility of the pieces, it was all truly amazing.

Trains at The Henry Ford

There was much, much more in the aviation area, but if it’s impossible to share it all in one post.  Next, we moved on to the Locomotives section.  I have been to a train museum before, so I have seen what early train cars were like and how the engines operated, but it is always interesting to look at more.  The detail that went into the interiors has always fascinated me.  There were some incredibly detailed models, huge (and I mean massively huge) engines – one of which had wheels that stood taller than my shoulders.  I could actually stand under the wheel well without hitting my head.  Crazy!  There is also a great kids area in this section.  The kids weren’t with us at this point, but if they had been, I would’ve needed the break!

Bugatti The Henry Ford

That beautiful specimen of a car is a Bugatti.  It was one of many, many amazing cars in the automobile section of the museum.  Each car has an information plaque telling you the details of the make/model, the specifics history of the actual car (if known) and some detailed info on costs and what the average household income was at the time the car was produced.  It was quite interesting to see how car prices compared to incomes and then use those ratios to look at current car prices vs incomes.  We didn’t get to spend near as much time in this section as we would’ve liked (we stayed until the museum closed) but we have our season passes, so we definitely plan to head back in a few weeks.

Iconic Signs At The Henry Ford

In addition to the transportation exhibits, there are also other exhibits on things that are considered iconic, such as The Beatles.  The Henry Ford also boasts a huge IMAX screen and a variety of areas both inside and outside for you to explore.  I can see this being one of my son’s favorite places this summer.  I hope to share Greenfield Village with you in a post soon, but needless to say the entire Henry Ford property is well worth the visit.


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What Makes You Feel Accomplished?

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by OxiClean™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about OxiClean™ all opinions are my own.

OxiClean HDWhen you talk about accomplishments, you’ll quickly learn that people view what qualifies as an accomplishment differently.  Some people equate accomplishment with professional success, some equate accomplishment with their personal lives and some have a healthy mix of both.  I like to think of myself as the latter.  I don’t have a fancy job, I never finished college, but I feel quite accomplished in my life.

When I talk about my accomplishments, my kids will always be my biggest.  Birthing them wasn’t my accomplishment, but raising them is.  Every time I teach one of them something new or watch one of them have an “ah -ha” moment, that’s my accomplishment.  My daughter has a thirst for knowledge beyond what she’s supplied (example – we have to take notes when we visit museums or zoos so that she can remember what she wants to research when we get home).

Kids at Detroit ZooPhotography is another thing that gives me a great sense of accomplishment.  I’m not trying to capture photos for anyone other than myself, but when I catch something amazing – be it with my DSLR or with my iPhone – I feel like I’ve done something special.  Nature is my favorite thing to photograph.  It’s always changing, always evolving and capturing a photo is capturing a second in time.

Nature PhotographyKeeping up with daily life at home is a major accomplishment for me as well.  Working 5 days a week, with an hour commute each way, and managing to keep my family fed and in clean clothes is a big deal to me.  Laundry isn’t something most people would classify as rewarding, but for me, it’s an accomplishment to see my kids wearing something that two weeks earlier may have looked like it was on it’s last leg.  Sending my kids out in white clothes that are actually white and clothes don’t don’t look worn out or dingy means a big deal to me.  With summer on the horizon, my kids will be sending more time outside and that means more dirt and more stains for my laundry detergent to battle.

That’s why I gave OxiClean™ HD™ Laundry Detergent a try.  OxiClean™ is about being powerful, yet safe, and that balance is important to ensure that not only will you get the stain fighting power you need, but that it won’t damage your family’s clothes in the process.  I was very impressed with how much power is in one cap full.  I admit that I was worried about my favorite bright pink shirt (it had a run in with a burrito), but OxiClean™ HD™ Laundry Detergent powered through with no problems.  All of our clothes came out of the wash looking great, no lingering stains or residue, and the fresh scent was wonderful.   My shirt is safe and sound and my closet smells amazing!

OxiClean HD WhitesDoes laundry leave you feeling accomplished too?  Now that I’ve shared a few of the things that make me feel accomplished, what makes YOU feel accomplished in your daily life?  Is it your job, your kids, a hobby?  Share with us on Facebook or here in the comments.


Posted in For the Home, Life in General | 4 Comments

Blackberry Pie, a Kitchen Decor Project and Cleaning Up Sticky Messes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScrubCloth  #CollectiveBias

Dish Cloth Drying StationYou’ve heard of a two-for?  Well, today is your lucky day!  Not only do I have a recipe for you, but I also have a fun, inexpensive kitchen decor project that is as useful as it is cute.  Today’s post is a long on, so stick with me and remember to share the recipe and project with your friends on Pinterest.

Blackberry pie is one of my boyfriend’s very favorite things.  We were very excited to find wild blackberries growing along the property line at our new house and equally disappointed when we realized the vines were tangled with poison ivy and would probably end up being killed off as we tried to eradicate it.  Thankfully, blackberries are easy enough to find at Walmart, so I was still able to make him his favorite pie this weekend.  Get the full recipe near the bottom of the post.

Blackberry Pie IngredientsWhen I cook, it’s not uncommon for my kitchen to look like a war zone.  There are dishes everywhere, splashes and splatters on the counters and stove.  The sink ends up piled full of dishes, some of which might sit and dry a bit before I get around to cleaning them up.  The last thing I want to do when I finish cooking is to have to fight my way through a war zone of stuck on mess, but washing as I go isn’t realistic either.  When I make blackberry pie, the stuck on mess is unbelievable!  Everything ends up covered in thick, sticky pie filling and it is a bear to clean up.

When I’m cleaning up a mess in the kitchen, I don’t want to have to use my fingernail (or even a knife) to scrape off a stuck on mess.  A dish cloth with scrubbing power makes cleaning easier and quicker too!  Scotch-Brite®, a brand we’ve trusted for years, has brought us a “supercharged” dish cloth.  Meet the NEW Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth.

Cleaning Dried Blackberry FillingThe NEW Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloth is super stylish and gives you all the scrubbing power you need to clean up your tough kitchen messes.  It powered right through the pie filling stuck to my spatula and make quick work of the pot I made the filling in too.  The washable, reusable and sturdy premium, textured fiber dish cloths feature scrubbing dots on one side, giving you the non-scratch scrubbing power of Scotch-Brite’s stay clean sponges, and the wiping and drying power of a dish cloth.  These dish cloths scrub, but don’t scratch!

How to Dry Dish ClothsLike I said before, these are washable, reusable dish clothes.  For me, that means I want to keep one around all the time for quick counter wipe downs and such.  I tend to use mine, rinse it out and hang it to dry.  I really dislike hanging dish cloths over the edge of the counter or the sink, so I made a little dish cloth drying station that hangs right on the side of my cabinets by the sink.  It keeps my dish cloth up and out of the way and allows it to dry completely between uses.  This was a super simple project that you can make too.

Dish Cloth DryerI picked up everything I needed at Walmart.  You’ll need a base of some sort.  I chose a slatted, pallet type looking wood piece from the craft section.  You could also use a solid rectangle or other shaped piece of wood.  You will also need wooden clothes pins, a hot glue gun and paint in your choice of colors.  I went with brown and cream, as those colors match my kitchen.  I also originally picked up stencils to add lettering, but I liked the plain look well enough that I decided to skip the lettering.

First, paint your backer.  You could do a solid color or a base color and a dry brush over top like I did.  If you chose a solid base color, apply two coats.  If you want the look I did, apply one coat of your darker color as a base and once dry, dry brush a coat of the lighter color over the top.  Dry brushing is a technique of putting very little paint on your brush, dabbing it off, and basically only putting “left-over” paint onto the surface.

Next, take apart your clothes pins and paint those in a contrasting color.  I went with the brown I used for my base coat.  If you’re using paint that is water soluble (cleans up with water), I would suggest painting over any areas of the clothes pins likely to touch wet cloth with clear nail polish or a sealer to keep the paint from coming off before you reassemble your clothes pins.  Once everything is dry, put them back together.

This step is one of personal preference.  You can use stencils (or even freehand, if you dare) to add some wording to your sign.  I decided to leave mine as is for now, until I have some more decor pieces for my kitchen, and I’ll add something later that fits with whatever theme I end up going with.

Last, just hot glue your clothes pins to your board and you’re ready to hang and use your drying station.  Easy!!

Where to find Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish ClothsScotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths are available at Walmart in the cleaning aisle and are available in 2-packs in tan, coral and navy for only $4.98.  Plus, if you shop now, there is a $1 off instant redeemable coupon available!  Just pick up a package with the coupon stuck right on the front and redeem it at checkout.  You can get your dish cloths and everything you need to make a drying station and a blackberry pie at your local Walmart and save money doing it.  What are you waiting for?

Looking for more great recipes and tutorials?  Check out the Scotch-Brite social hub!

Blackberry Pie

Blackberry Pie


  • Refridgerated Pie Crust (2)
  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • Egg


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lay out your pie crusts and allow them to come to room temperature.
  3. In a saucepan, combine blackberries, butter, lemon zest, sugar and vanilla.
  4. Heat over medium until butter melts and the blackberries begin releasing their juices.
  5. Stir in flour.
  6. Mix well and remove from the heat.
  7. Line a Deep Dish pie pan with one of the crusts.
  8. Pour in the filling.
  9. Top with the remaining crust.
  10. Seal the edges and poke the crust or cut small slits for ventilation.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.
  12. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
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In and Around Detroit Michigan

Comerica Park Detroit TigersExploring a new city is always exciting.  There is a bit of a difference in exploring a place you’re visiting and exploring a place that you now call home.  You look at things differently and you explore with less haste.  Instead of just figuring out how to get from point A to point B, you’re trying to actually learn.  You don’t rush through museums and attractions because you know you can always come back and visit again. At least this is my experience with it.

One of my favorite experiences so far has been visiting Comerica Park for my first Major League Baseball game.  The park is beautiful, the weather has been great and a baseball is the great American game.  I’ve been to many minor league games, but Charlotte didn’t have a major league team so this was a major league first for me.

IMG_8183After taking in a game, we walked down to the GM Renaissance Center river front.  You can stand in the US and look across the water to Canada.  At the time, I didn’t have a passport, so I couldn’t take a trip across the bridge to visit.  Well, to be accurate, I could’ve entered Canada just fine but getting back into the US would’ve been a problem.  My passport just arrived this week, so I am now free to travel and I can’t wait to go visit and see how things are different in Canada.

EBLT and Boho FriesOn our walk through downtown Detroit, we stopped at a little place called Broderick Grill for lunch.  It was delicious and the prices were really reasonable.  I had a wicked good EBLT sandwich with Boho Fries.  The sandwich had a spicy avocado spread and perfectly cooked bacon and eggs.  The fries were crispy, citrusy and had a garlic kick.  You’ll likely see both recreated here in the near future.

Frankenmuth BridgeOne of our favorite places we’ve visited outside of Detroit so far has been Frankenmuth.  We’ve actually been twice now, and a third visit is imminent (it’s the cheese -that will make sense in a minute, I promise).  Frankenmuth, Michigan was a Baravian settlement and now it is a bustling little city where you can have your own German town experience.  There are several restaurants, a brewery, tons of shops for both food and goods – and that’s where the cheese comes in – The Frankenmuth Cheese Haus.  Take me to cheesy Heaven.  We have fallen in love with a jalapeno cheese spread they carry in this huge store full of cheese!  Did I mention how beautiful Frankenmuth is as well?  The image above is the covered bridge across the river in town.  You can walk it or drive it.  You can also take a boat tour.

A few other places we’ve visited include the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (more to come on those another day), the Milan Dragway and Motorcity Casino.  We still have several places we want to visit as too – Saginaw Bay, Belle Isle, and Mackinac Island are just a few.  If the weather holds out, we’re hoping to head up to Saginaw Bay this weekend.

For those of you familiar with the Michigan area, what places would you suggest we add to our list of “must-see”s?





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Homestyle Spaghetti Bolognese

Homestyle Spaghetti Bolognese

We have finally, finally moved into our new house!  I am so excited to have a kitchen to call my own again.  So much of my life has revolved around a kitchen, especially my younger years.  I can remember standing at the counter, watching my grandmother make homemade buttermilk biscuits, begging for balls of the dough.  Yes, I ate raw biscuit dough and I loved it.  I can also remember her making huge batches of spaghetti and meat sauce, something I never got tired of eating.  She would make so much sauce that we froze some in empty butter tubs.

You won’t find me standing in the kitchen for hours on end, at least not on a daily basis, but I do try to get that #homestyle feeling in my own dishes when I can.  It’s comfort food, memory evoking food.  I’m still always looking for a shortcut.  My grandmother’s meat sauce wasn’t something that happened at a rapid pace, mine however is.

Spaghetti Bolognese Ingredients

By using a quality packaged sauce like Ragu Homestyle, you can significantly cut down on the time it takes to make homestyle, comfort evoking food.  My Spaghetti Bolognese is one of the dishes for me.  It’s super simple, doesn’t use any fancy ingredients and is flavor packed!  If you are following me on Snapchat (yes, it’s not just for teenagers – find me @theblendedco), you’ve already seen how quickly this comes together.

Give it a try, let me know what you think, and don’t forget to check out Ragu’s new Homestyle Pasta Sauces – there are 5 flavors!

Homestyle Spaghetti Bolognese

Homestyle Spaghetti Bolognese


  • Ragu Homestyle Pasta Sauce
  • 1 lb Ground Pork
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Cups Carrots, Chopped
  • 16 oz Sliced Mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Salt
  • 2 tsp Ground Pepper
  • 16 oz Spaghetti


  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and carrots, cook until tender.
  3. Add the pork. Cook through, stirring to break up the meat.
  4. Add the garlic salt, ground pepper, mushrooms and pasta sauce.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer covered.
  7. Prepare the pasta according to package directions.
  8. Toss cooked pasta with sauce and serve immediately.
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Fun Ways to Make Learning Math Easy for Your Kid

Most kids today think of math as hard work. No matter how much they dislike it they will have to use it in school and everyday life. The studies have shown that kids who start learning math at an early age will later become better at problem solving. They are also more likely to choose a career in the fields of technology or finances. But making them practice math can be quite a trouble. That is why you should do your best to make math learning fun and interesting for them. Here are some ways to do so.

Mathematics ChalkboardUse math for fun activities

One of the best ways to get your children to practice math is to have them use it while doing something they like. Think of some fun activities they enjoy doing and try to make them implement math in them. Cooking is one of the things children enjoy helping you with and can also practice math while doing so. Let them do all the counting and measuring. This way they will feel proud because they are helping and won’t even think of counting and measuring as a form of math. Another place you can have them practice math is your car. Every time they ask you “are we there yet?” you can tell them how far your destination is and how fast you are going and have them do the counting by themselves.

Understanding the concept of math

In order for your child to become aware of what he or she is doing subconsciously, they will need to understand the concept of math. Although at this point it might sound too raw, there are ways to do it through play as well. The traditional Montessori approach to learning has developed and applied great techniques for learning math. It has been divided into levels, according to child abilities at each age. The main thing to know is that it doesn’t push or forces your child towards improvement, but rather the child himself progresses at its own pace. What is also important is that your child is playing and learning at the same time but without feeling oppressed.

AbacusHave them use it in everyday activities

Your children are surrounded by the things that require some math skills. Counting money or time and measuring things are all interesting options for your children to practice math. One of the ways to make them use math is to take your children shopping with you. Ask them to tell you the prices of the products on the bottom shelves and have your children compare them. You can also ask them to calculate how much you will pay at the counter and get them a prize if they get it right. Make this a game and do it every time you go shopping. You can also find some other interesting shopping games to play with your children. Boys also like playing with tools. Give them a tape measure and ask them how long something is.

Have them use math while playing

The best way for children to solve math problems is while playing games. There are many ways you can help them do this. There are many trading card games today that children simply adore. Look for these online and buy them cards. Explain them the rules and play the game with them. Most of these include a lot of counting and comparing numbers. They also have amazing artwork which makes it very interesting for children. You can also use your PC to have children practice math. There are many cool math games online that your children can play. Help them in the beginning and let them play on their own later. All of the games like this will improve their math and problem solving skills.

The most important thing to do is to make math look interesting for children. Once you manage to make math a part of the activities and games your children like you will have no trouble making them practice it. Just get involved and try to help them implement math in their daily lives, one day at a time.


***Contributor Bio***

Emma is a teacher, constantly improving her skills both as a teacher and as a parent. She is passionate about writing and learning new things that can help you to lead a quality life. She is a regular contributor to High Style Life. You can follow her on Twitter @EmmahLawson

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