A Little Carolina Charm (And A Story About PR Done Right!)

Whether you’re a blogger or not, most people know what PR means… Public Relations.  Most companies either have a PR Department or work with a PR firm.  I get tons of emails, both from firms and directly from brands, pitching me products, asking me to tell you about their products or telling me why I should write about their product.  They often want me to do this for them, product unseen, and it’s not out of the ordinary that they expect me to do it for free.  I like to call those #BloggerProblems

A few weeks ago, I get this email from a local PR rep… I happen to know this particular PR rep through a mom’s group we’re both a part of.  Despite our paths crossing in a few ways, we’ve never worked together.  Anyway, it’s a “Hey, hope you’re doing well… I have a little something to drop off for you from Carolina Charm.  Is this address still correct…?” So I respond with the blah, blah doing good, yes, that’s my address, blah, blah.  Typical email fodder.

I was expecting some little piece of promo material, maybe a coffee mug,  but I come home to find this…

Carolina Charm 5A hand written note, awesome (seriously sturdy and seriously large) crate full of locally produced products and “free” coupons for more of those products, some local magazines, and a nicely done, professionally printed press release.

The best part?  They weren’t expecting something in return.  If I wanted to write about the products or the promotion, great.  If I didn’t, that was ok too.  They weren’t automatically expecting anything from me in return. If I do, (which clearly I am) great. If I don’t, that’s great too. It’s part of a media outreach for a promotion a local grocery chain (Harris Teeter) is doing to promote brands made in NC.

There are a lot of PR companies that could use this as a lesson. Reaching out without the expectation of something in return is exactly what will get you something in return.

I would love for you guys to check out these brands that were included in the basket from Carolina Charm, as many which are staples in my kitchen:

House-Autry

Duke’s Mayonaise

Lance Crackers

Front Porch Ice Cream

Texas Pete

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

I made a shrimp and grits dinner with the House-Autry Dinner Grits (super easy and quite delicious) last week, I had the Lance Cracker as a snack and the glass from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery has quickly become my favorite drinking vessel.

If any of you work in PR, *this* is PR done right.  If you need a PR rep, let me know – I have a great one I can share with you.  If you work with PR reps on a regular basis, what do you think about the approach of this campaign?

Posted in Blogging How To | Leave a comment

The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project Needs You!

Three years ago, something amazing happened.  There were families that couldn’t afford to have a Thanksgiving dinner.  What?!  How is that something amazing?  Well, read on to find out…

2014-THANKS.gifI’ve been blogging for 5 years (holy wow!) and I was reading blogs for years before.  One of the first blogs I really latched on to was Jill Smokler’s blog, Scary Mommy.  So, three years ago, a handful of mothers who confessed not being able to afford Thanksgiving dinners and a handful of Scary Mommy readers  volunteered to help them. Nobody was trying to save the world; they just wanted to be able to make a difference in one family’s life.

Then more families who couldn’t afford dinner came forward, and again, more readers stepped up.  At the end of the day (er…holiday), 400 families had a Thanksgiving dinner they otherwise wouldn’t have.

A project was born, a charity formed and to date, more than 4,500 families have benefited from the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project.  $50 provides a full meal for a family… but what if you can’t donate $50?  THAT’S OK!  Donate $1 or $2 or help by spreading the word!  The more people that know about the project, the more people who share the project, the more good The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project can do!  Click the image below to head over to Scary Mommy and do your part, no matter how small.

2014THANKSGIVINGSometimes we look around at all of the sadness and terrible things in the world and think “I can’t fix this!”  You’re right… you can’t.  Not alone.  Together though, together we can do amazing things.  Three people stepping up has turned into thousands of families being fed on Thanksgiving.  Join The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project for 2014 and do some good.

Do you have a special charity or project you work on through out the year or during the holidays?  Tell us about it in the comments.  Leave us a link to the organization’s website and we’ll share them on Facebook!

Posted in Food, Life in General, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

21 Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes

After professing my love for cooker recipes and since we’re giving away a slow cooker from Hamilton Beach, today seemed like a good day for sharing some of the delicious slow cooker recipes I’ve found around the web.

21 Delicious Slow Cooker RecipesYou can really make just about anything in your slow cooker, you just might need to make a few modifications to your recipes.  Not everything that comes out of a slow cooker is a soup, stew or otherwise swimming in liquid either.  There are even instructions out there for tons of CRAFTS that use your slow cooker!

From breakfast to dessert, you can save yourself a lot of time and net some delicious results with recipes like these…

Easy Slow Cooker Pork Chops from Amber Nicole

Pulled Pork Chili from Simply Darrling

BBQ Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches from This Girl’s Life

Honey Bourbon Chicken from Olive & Ivy

Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers from Sincerely Mindy

Slow Cooker Herb Crusted Prime Rib from Penney Lane Kitchen

Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Pork Roast from Six Sisters Stuff

Slow Cooker Creamy Macaroni and Cheese from Six Sisters Stuff

Slow Cooker General Tsos Chicken from Le Creme De La Crumb

Making Bread in the Slow Cooker from In The Kitchin

Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Dip from Damn Delicious

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup from Le Creme De La Crumb

Balsamic Roast Beef from Add A Pinch

Slow Cooker Meatloaf from Cincy Shopper

Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Meatballs from Family Fresh Meals

Creamy Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili from Lovely Little Kitchen

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cobbler from The Gunny Sack

Slow Cooker Coca Cola Beef Stew from MamaMommyMom (that’s me!)

Cheesy Slow Cooker Cowboy Casserole from Family Fresh Meals

Slow Cooker Parsley Potatoes from Recipes That Crock

Slow Cooker Tex Mex Quinoa Casserole from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe?  Share it with us and we might feature it in our next recipe round up!

Posted in Food, Recipes | 1 Comment

Creamy Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup {And A Slow Cooker Giveaway!}

A HUGE thank you to Hamilton Beach for sending me a new Set ‘n Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker AND providing me with one to giveaway to a lucky reader!  No other compensation was received for this post and all thoughts and opinions are mine alone.  Read on for a great baked potato soup recipe and a slow cooker giveaway! #SlowCookerMeals

Creamy Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup - Hamilton Beach - Sponsored - GiveawayAs Fall begins to set in, the days are getting shorter but all the things we need to pack into those days remain the same.  Work, school, after school activities, homework… dinner.  Fitting it all in can be hard.  My slow cooker and I have quite the cozy relationship.  She works for me all day, provides me with a quick, hearty dinner and I get to rest easy knowing that I fed my kids something that didn’t come out of a box or can (though, those things have their place and time – just not every night) and saved myself some time and a whole lot of headache.

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker - Creamy Loaded Baked Potato SoupI was certainly no stranger to the 6 Qt Set ‘n Forget Slow Cooker.  My sister actually had and loved this same slow cooker (until my brother-in-law dropped and cracked the insert.)  I had used her slow cooker many times to make my famous Thanksgiving Drunk Turkey Breast.  There’s turkey, there’s wine.  It’s all kinds of amazing.  Slow Cookers aren’t just for holidays or parties, they are every day awesomeness!  I feel in love with slow cookers after I found Stephanie O’Dea online a few years ago.  She was an amazing inspiration and has had me hooked since!

HB_OCT_33967_slowcooker_blogger_7 (2)One of my favorite meals ever is Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  If I eat out and my meal has an option to add a baked potato soup, you know I’m ordering at least a cup.  It’s creamy, filling and full of flavor.  Making it at home isn’t hard and it certainly doesn’t have to be time consuming.  A few minutes of prep in the morning and you can have dinner ready in about 10 minutes that evening.

Creamy Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

5.0 from 8 reviews
Creamy Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup {And A Slow Cooker Giveaway!}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs White Potatoes
  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • ¼ Cup Chopped Green Onions
  • ¼ Pound Bacon, Cooked and Diced
  • ¼ Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Instructions
  1. Wash and peel your potatoes.
  2. Add them to your slow cooker.
  3. Add chicken broth.
  4. Cook on Low setting for 6 hours.
  5. Drain about half the liquid off the potatoes, add the remaining ingredients and blend with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add additional toppings as desired.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Current Giveaways, Giveaways, Recipes, Reviews | 26 Comments

Karma and Life Lessons

In life, you get back what you give.  Whether you believe that or not, I do.  And if I forget it, Karma is always there to remind me…

Keys and KarmaYesterday was a good day.  I have no major complaints.  Yes, there were hiccups through out the day (like the 2:30 phone call telling me that school was closing early because of severe weather and that there would be no after school care… and oh, leave work and come pick your kids up.)  It was a good day.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes when you get asked a question and the answer is just to complicated to explain (or the answer is just none of someone else’s business), it’s sometimes easiest to just tell a little white lie to satisfy the question seeker’s curiosity.  Never anything that could cause problems, but just a little while lie.  “What did you do this weekend?”  “I cleaned house some, hung around, you know,,, nothing major.” … when what I really might have done was been apartment hunting or job searching.  There are just some things you aren’t ready to discuss, you know?

So, I had a few of these moments yesterday.  No biggie, nothing major.  I had no hangups about it through the afternoon.  I mean, everybody does it right?

And then I locked my keys in my car.

Thanks, Karma.

Newsflash!  It’s not nice to lie… <sigh> even if they are little white ones.  Since that little tidbit had clearly slipped my mind, Karma stepped in to give me a swift kick in the booty.  You had better believe that as soon as I realized what I had just done, every half-truth that has come out of my mouth in the recent past came flooding out of the recesses of my brain.  And as I stood in the light rain, using Google to find a locksmith, I was happy that the only kick in the booty Karma had delivered was my keys.

Oh, and the $150 locksmith bill to get my door open.

Posted in Life in General | 2 Comments

It Finally Feels Like Home… Things Are Coming Together!

Today’s update on my new apartment space is sponsored by Gold Peak Coffee.  Gold Peak Coffee sent me a few items to make my new home feel more like “home” and some additional compensation for my time.  All thoughts and opinions shared here are mine and mine alone. #SipOfHome

I'm Home - SipOfHome - Gold Peak CoffeeI’ve talked about it before, but one of the hardest transitions for me lately has been getting to the point where my apartment feels like home.  I haven’t lived in an apartment in 15 years.  I’ve always had a place that was “mine” and it was home.  Having lived in my last house for over 10 years, thinking of that house as home has been a hard habit to break.

IKEA Mirror Collage - Sip of Home  - Gold Peak Coffee #adI’ve spent that last few weeks taking some of my own advice and really working t make my apartment feel like home.  When I’m leaving a dinner date, I don’t want to say that I’m heading back to my apartment, I want to say that I’m heading home.  And I finally feel like I can do that.

I started by getting some more things up on the walls.  Buying art can be incredibly expensive, but there are short cuts.  The mirror arrangement I did on the wall behind the loveseat cost me less than $20, and the whole things can be put up with adhesive strips!  I’ll probably upload a template for the arrangement and info on where to get the mirrors sometime later this week.  It has a pretty big impact when you consider what size art you’ll get in most stores for $20.

Roses Flowers - SipOfHome Gold Peak Coffee HomeI talked about color once before.  Living within 4 white (or even off-white) walls feels institutional and definitely not the vision that is evoked with I think of home.  I’ve spent a lot of time finding way to bring in color and make home feel more homey.  Fresh flowers are a huge way to bring in some color (and smell!).  They also bring  little of the outdoors in, which helps with the next thing…

Sip of Home Gold Peak Coffee #adComfort  – Home is a place you are supposed to feel comfortable.  I want to be out having Gold Peak Coffee with my sister and the comfort of the warm cup make me think about home.  One of my favorite things to do at home is curl up in the corner of the couch with a warm cup of coffee and a blanket.  Something about holding a warm up in my hand, even in a restaurant, makes me think of home.  For me, that is comfort and comfort is home.

Apartment Bedroom - SipOfHome - Gold Peak CoffeePractice – You’re probably thinking I’m a little crazy.  What are you “practicing” to make your apartment feel like home?!  Easy… I’m practicing leaving “home”, talking about “home”, relating things to “home” and going “home”.  Fenway has certainly decided that this is home.

Gold Peak Coffee (formerly Georgia Coffee) connects you with the comforts of home, even when you’re out enjoying life.  It’s a comforting, warm way to start your day, or as I sometimes like to, end it. It’s also now available in several areas where it wasn’t before.  Check out Gold Peak Coffee to see where you can try out their amazing coffee, and join the convo on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #SipOfHome.

What are some of the things you like to do to make home feel like “home”?  Does a warm cup of coffee do the same thing for you that it does for me?

As a reminder, this post was sponsored by Gold Peak Coffee.  All opinions and commentary are my own.

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Posted in Food, For the Home | 16 Comments

Until You’ve Walked A Mile… Back OFF The NICU Mom!

I’m not one to use my site, and yes – this is MY site – to rant.  I generally reserve that for my close personal friends, whom I bombard with incessant text messages until I get out whatever has grated on my nerves.  Today though, this is one you all need to hear.  BACK OFF THE NICU MOM.

The-Vintage-Modern-WifeThis is my friend Stephanie.  She lives in Texas and writes at The Vintage Modern Wife.  Have we met in person?  No.  “Then you don’t really know her and she’s not really your friend.”  Wrong.  I know more about her and what she’s been going through than most of the general population.  I know she’s a good person trying to make ends meet for her family.  I know her heart is bursting with joy and breaking with sadness, all at the same time, every minute of every day.  I know that Stephanie has cried herself to sleep more times in the last month than she has in her entire life.

Stephanie is a NICU mom.

Before Stephanie’s baby girl was born, she and her husband knew they were in for a hard road ahead.  Stephanie has shared much of what’s been going on her on Facebook page for The Vintage Modern Wife.  Her life for the last 6 week has been anything but a cake walk.  If you’ve never experienced having a child in the hospital with an illness (let alone a newborn) you can’t even begin to imagine.  She has even given up her job as a teacher so that she can spend as much time taking care of Addy as possible.

10610947_798402120201444_3347693390121073929_nLike most of us who blog as a source of income, whether it be full-time or supplemental, we take on sponsored post or stories from time to time.  Very often, these deals are set up pretty far in advance, though not always.  Some are quick little projects that pay little and some are more involved and pay a lot.  We take on projects… some because we love the concept, some because we need the income, some because working with a particular brand is just too good to pass up.

Stephanie took on a project with Lindt Chocolate – I did not work on this project, but I have bought the chocolate and it’s AMAZING!.  She spun her piece into a story about making friends in the NICU.  She spends A LOT of time there.

I publish 99% of the comments that come through on my site.  I generally don’t filter the mean ones out, so long as they aren’t filled with adult content or spam, up they go.  From time to time, I’ll get a comment that stings a little.  I try to let it roll off and move on.  Sometimes, there are comments that get under my skin and I just can’t shake them.  Today, that comment wasn’t on my site, but on Stephanie’s.

UntitledMaddie – I don’t know who in the H-E-doublehockeysticks you think you are, but you need to back OFF the NICU mom.

I’m not usually one to judge, at least I try not to be, but I will certainly pass judgement here.  Maddie, you’ve clearly never had a child in the hospital.  If you had, you’d know that the time you spend sitting, waiting, hoping… that time is time your mind races.  All of the horrible things that could go wrong for you, for you child and for the children of those around you.  In the silence, the time spent while babies are in surgery or otherwise where you can’t hold them, love on them, care for them… your mind swims with all of this awfulness.  Sometimes, you need to do something else.  And doing that something else, whether it’s a crossword puzzle or writing a sponsored post (by the way, NICU isn’t FREE!) that IS how you take care of your kid.

So, Maddie, you wanted attention?  (I mean, what other reason would there be for leaving a just spiteful comment like that…)  Now you have it.  You have the attention of everyone – EVERYONE who cares about Stephanie and baby Addy.  You have the attention of NICU moms everywhere.  I can guarantee you they will all be thinking about you tonight and hoping you never have the chance to see just how wrong you are.

#PinkNinja Addison ArmyFor those interested in showing support for Stephanie, Addison and their family, some of her blogging friends have put together a t-shirt sale.  The t-shirts are $25 and all proceeds go toward helping Stephanie and her family cover Addison’s medical expenses.  If you’d like to order a t-shirt, just click on the image above.  If you’d like to help in another way, feel free to reach out to me via email and we’ll figure it out!  jamie@mamamommymom.com

The response and amount of encouraging words for Stephanie has been amazing.  You guys don’t even know how much it means to Stephanie (and me!) to have you all comment here, on Facebook and everywhere else this has been shared.  You guys are amazing!

Posted in Blogging How To, Life in General, Parenting | 21 Comments

12 Boo-zey Drinks {Perfect Halloween Cocktails}

Halloween is one of the few times a year that adults get a free pass on acting like kids. We get to dress up, eat ungodly amounts of candy and Trick or Treat (with our kids, of course!). But when it comes to parties, we want our Halloween cocktails to be a little boo-zey.

12 Boozey Halloween Cocktails

There’s definitely something for everyone here.  Make one or make them all… there are definitely a few of these Halloween cocktails I want to try myself!  Click on the images below to check out the recipes, see more pictures, and check out other fantastic content on the sites mentioned below.

Blood of Vampires at Eggs and Herbs
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Blood and Bones at Brit + Co
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Martini Trio at The Sunshine Party Studio
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Halloween Pumpkin Punch at FreutCake
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Halloween Sangria at Recipe Girl
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Hocus Pocus Fizz at Doughmesstic
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Midnight Stalker at DailyNoff
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The Jack-o-Lantern at Hostess with the Mostess
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Spiderella at A Healthy Life For Me
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Vampire’s Dream at Ezra Pound Cake
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Vampire’s Kiss at Raining Hot Coupons
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Posted in Food, Party Ideas, Recipes | 9 Comments

Chalkboard Kitchen Conversion Chart Printable

If you’re looking for cute kitchen decor, or if you’re new to cooking and need a reference, kitchen conversion chart printables are widely available around the internet.  Given their popularity, it seemed only fitting that I offer one here.

Black Chalkboard Kitchen Conversions

I try to keep my printables clean and uncluttered, so I hope you like this one.  To download the full resolution file, just click here.  Right click on the image once it opens and “save as” to where ever on your computer you like.  With the chalkboard background, I recommend printing on a heavier paper, like cardstock.

Have something you’d like to see as a printable?  Let me know!  I’m always looking for ideas of things I can provide to you guys.  I’m happy to take on special projects.

Good luck in the kitchen!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turn A Brown Paper Bag Into A Trick-Or-Treat Bag #EarlyLearnersAcademy

What feels like forever ago, my friends at Elmer’s sent me a tool box full of Elmer’s products and basic crafting supplies for my little ones to free-range with (we’re huge fans of free-range art.)  Instead of telling her what to do with the contents, I simply turned my 7 year old loose.  What did she do?  She turned a brown paper bag and some strips of construction paper into a Trick-Or-Treat Bag.

Trick-Or-Treat Bag #EarlyLearnersAcademyCraft supplies you can never go wrong with?  Paper and glue.  I’ve been making stuff out of paper and glue since before I even remember.  I know there’s a box somewhere of who knows what that I made back in elementary school… likely a whole lot of glue and paper projects.  I have a box of the same for each of the kids.  We run through both paper and glue here like there’s a never ending supply.

Elmers #EarlyLearnersAcademy Trick-Or-Treat BagThe products Elmer’s sent us were from their line for younger children.  Both Cullen and Addison we able to open the glues easier than with the traditional packaging we’re all used to seeing.  The bulkier shape and size makes easier work for little fingers.  When I set the kids loose with a project like this, I want to know that they can do it on their own, with little to no help from me.  That includes having to run to their aid to open things for them.

Elmer's Crafting Trick-Or-Treat BagThe only advice I gave Addy during this project was to lay her work out before she started gluing anything down.  She picked her own design, she picked her own glue, she even asked if I had green paper to use for a stem.

Halloween Trick-Or-Treat BagIt’s a good thing she rarely minds being the subject of my photographic endeavors.  Pumpkin in place, glue drying… time for finishing touches!  Those creatures kind of look like butterflies to me, but I am assured that they are bats.  I offered black construction paper, but apparently she prefers mixed medium art.

In the end, a super cute project for a super cute girl.  One that she is happy with and that I can be happy with knowing she flexed her creative muscles!

If your kids Trick-Or-Treat, what do they carry to collect their candy in?

Posted in Crafts | 10 Comments