At one point or another, everyone will be someone’s house guest. Chances are, you’ll have a house guest of your own at some point too. If you’ve experienced the joy (sometimes horror) of having a house guest, you know that there are good ones, there are great ones and there are the ones you want to tell you’ve moved out of state. How can you make sure you aren’t one of ‘those’ house guests? Easy! Here are a few simple tips & tricks to make you the house guest everyone wants to have visit again.
Everyone leads busy lives nowadays, but that’s not an excuse for poor planning. While the occasional unexpected “Hey, can I crash at your place?” is ok, don’t make it a habit. If you know you’re coming to town in two months and you’ll need a place to stay, touch base with your prospective host and make sure you aren’t wrecking their plans. Everyone being on the same page with dates/time of arrival and departure can help your host be ready for you too.
Bring a Gift
Let’s be real here… You’re staying for free. Show your host some sort of gratitude by bringing a gift. Maybe it’s a bottle of wine, maybe it’s a holiday decoration they can add to their collection. Pick out something that is for your host or their home. You can even shop at Walmart.com and have your gift delivered right to their door.
When you’re playing the part of house guest, don’t treat your host’s home like a hotel. You should be able to come and go, but within reason. If your host has small children, don’t expect to go out in the evenings and roll in at 1 am. You need to be considerate of children, animals and anything your host may already have on their calendar. Just because you’re visiting, your host’s life doesn’t suddenly revolve around you.
Think About the Neighbors
Being considerate extends to the neighbors as well. Don’t block driveways or do anything else that might be considered annoying or rude. The neighbors will appreciate your consideration and so will your host.
At a hotel, you are paying for normal household staples like toilet paper, napkins/paper towels and tissues. When you’re playing the part of house guest, you’re using items that your host has paid for themselves. While no one consumes a large amount of these on their own in a day, when you roll in with a family or stay multiple days, your consumption of these products adds up! Ask your host if you can pitch in a few bucks toward food or paper products, or better yet, you can order things like Viva paper towels, Kleenex tissues and Cottonelle & Scott bath tissue from Walmart.com and have them delivered ahead of your visit.
Whether your sending a “thanks for putting us up” package or shopping for your own home, you can’t beat the convenience and variety of products available at Walmart. Orders over $35 qualify for free two-day shipping or you can always pick up in store. When you pair great Walmart prices with the offers below from Ibotta, you’ve got a deal that can’t be beat!
Current Walmart Ibotta Offers on Household Essentials
This post was sponsored by Boys & Girls Clubs of America as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
After your kids reach a certain age, you begin to understand the dangers associated with mentioning upcoming events too far in advance. As a parent, it’s really not good for your mental health. If your kids gets the slightest inkling that something fun is on the horizon, even if that horizon is 6 months away, you will hear about it – possibly everyday.
It’s only November and I have already been asked multiple times about summer camp for next year. It’s literally 7 months away and my son is already campaigning to make sure he and his sister are back at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for summer 2018. When you start hearing about something 7 months in advance, you know your kid is excited. Next year will mark their third year attending summer camp at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is safe, fun and affordable place for my kids to spend part of their summer break. As much as I wished I had summers off too, I don’t. After our move to Michigan, I set out to find a reputable summer camp for them – somewhere they would enjoy and somewhere I could send them without giving up my whole paycheck. Someone recommended that I look into them and I’m glad I did. They have trained staff, tons of enrichment activities, plus I love the sense of responsibility they foster in the kids. There are more than 4,300 Boys & Girls Clubs of America locations in cities and suburbs all over the US.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s has a simple mission: Enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. In partnership with the Anthem Foundation, they work with my children to help guide them toward these goals through three pillars – academic success, good character & citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. It’s a Triple Play: Mind, Body and Soul. That sounds awful grown up for kids, but the approach is pretty simple.
It’s a Triple Play
My son is an extremely energetic little boy. He plays lacrosse during the school year, but summer sports are few and far between. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America has been amazing for us for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important (as it relates to my son) has been the athletic enrichment and outdoor activity programs we’ve been able to involve him in during the summer. For my daughter, she has really enjoyed the yoga program. Last year, we added on water themed field trips, allowing them to visit area beaches and water parks.
One of my daughter’s favorite areas of the club is the art room. She has a true love or art and love learning about different mediums and techniques. She also loves spending time in the LRC (Learning Resources Center), working with knowledge building iPad games and building toys. The LRC is also a great space for the kids to work on social/cooperative play and interpersonal skills.
In addition to group activities and various child-lead clubs, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America offers teens an opportunity to work with the younger members as Junior Staff. Junior Staff actively participates in the day to day operations of the club and help direct the younger members in their activities and social interactions. My son’s goal is to continue going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America until he’s old enough to become a member of Junior Staff.
Locate and Connect
It’s clear that the Boys & Girls Clubs of America help keep my kids active and engaged all summer long. Since Triple Play’s introduction in 2005, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America has helped keep over one million kids active and engaged! In addition to their summer program, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America also offers after school and school break programs. If you’re looking for a way to keep your kids engaged and active when they’re out of school, visit the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to find your nearest club and plan your visit today!
Have you had a positive experience with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America? Tell us in the comments or drop a note on our Facebook page. In the meantime, you can connect with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
A huge “thank you” to Toyota for lending me a 2017 Toyota RAV4 to facilitate our night out in Royal Oak and my review of the 2017 RAV4. #DriveToyota #LetsGoPlaces
After spending my whole life in North Carolina, there weren’t many cities within driving distance that I hadn’t had the chance to visit. One of the biggest upsides to our move to Michigan in 2016 has been having a whole new world to explore. We’ve hit up places like Detroit, Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes. They are big tourist spots, but I love them. Last week, we took the opportunity to check out something a little more “hometown” with a trip to Royal Oak.
Royal Oak is about an hour drive for us. It’s a very happening little town with an incredibly busy downtown area, full of restaurants, shops and activities. We were invited by a friend of mine to join her husband and a group of friends at The Great Escape Room. We honestly had no idea what we were signing up for, but we love a new adventure, so why not. You guys, The Great Escape Room was so much fun! It’s like a puzzle, scavenger hunt and game all mashed together. We did “Dr. Watson’s Infirmary” and we failed. The success rate for that scenario is only 27%, so I don’t feel too bad. We did get really, really close though. The staff was really friendly and they helped add to the fun. There are several other “set-ups” you can play, so I am sure we’ll be back again.
In addition to our mystery adventure at The Great Escape Room, we also tried a delicious little sushi place, Little Tree Sushi. One of the things we miss most (besides family and friends) from NC is our favorite sushi place. Little Tree was fantastic, I just wish it was closer to our house. We ordered way, way too much food, and still ate it all. Our waitress was prompt and the prices are fair. Plus, they have Happy Hour specials through the week. It’s definitely a place we’ll be back to enjoy again.
Of course, I drove the 2017 Toyota RAV4 on our Royal Oak adventure. When offered the chance to review the 2017 Toyota RAV4 over the course of a week, there was no way I was going to pass it up. Toyota and I go way back. I can vividly remember riding in the passenger seat of my mom’s 1980s hatchback Corolla. Thirty years later, I own a Toyota Corolla of my own. Before that, I owned a Camry. Both are/were extremely dependable and have they a driveability that I have grown to love.
First, I want to talk about the exterior. The color is just slightly more gray than my Corolla (you can see it in the background in the lower left corner of the photo above). The RAV4 has lots of nice visual features like the rear spoiler, color keyed mirrors (heated with turn signal and blind spot monitoring) and roof rails. The blind spot monitoring is SO nice on the interstate. If you’ve ever driven on I-75 through Michigan, you know how crazy the lane changing can be, and it’s nice to have that little extra assurance that everything is clear before changing lanes. The RAV4 also has a foot activated power lift gate. I had to pull out the owner’s manual to figure out how to use it, but once I understood the simple motion that activates it, it was awesome!
Interior and Drivability
As far as handling goes, the RAV4 drives just like my Corolla. Outside of parking, which was made much easier by the RAV4’s camera system and Parking Assist, there was no difference. The larger size was a non-issue, which was a pleasant surprise. The RAV4 has Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and DRCC is everything (more on that later).
For the interior, there were things I like and things I dislike. Let’s talk about the dislikes first. I am not a fan of the control placement for many of my favorite features. The control for the heated steering wheel is low on the dash, to the left and behind the steering wheel. For shorter drivers like myself, this is a long way to reach and not something I want to try to mess with while I’m driving. The same applies for the heated seat controls. They are low on the center control panel, down by the cup holders, and much too far for my short arms to reach without a significant amount of leaning. The entertainment/navigation display is tilted slightly up, so it tends to catch a bit of a glare from the sunroof/moonroof.
While those were all things I’m not crazy about, there were plenty of great features. I love the the controls by the arm rests are tilted slightly toward you. The in-dash display has tons of options, allowing you to quickly scroll through and see whatever you need to at the moment, right from the steering wheel. The interior styling is nice. Everything seems high quality and well paired. The fold-flat rear seat are a huge perk. They really help expand your cargo space for larger hauls.
My Favorite Feature
I saved the best for last. I know some of you may think this is silly, but my favorite feature of the RAV4 is the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. If you think you know cruise control, you don’t. Do yourself a favor and click over to Toyota’s website and read about it. Once you’ve experienced it, you will never be satisfied with normal cruise control again. As soon as I realized the RAV4 had DRCC, my husband knew that someone would have to pry it out of my hands.
A quick synopsis of how it works: You set your desired speed and a following distance. Using radar and cameras, the RAV4 adjusts your speed to accommodate for traffic ahead. I have 50 mile commute each way, with the majority being on the interstate. DRCC means I can use cruise control without constantly having to cancel and reset for traffic changes. Of course, this is not a “set it and forget it” sort of feature. You do still need to pay attention to what’s happening around you and be ready to react should something go awry.
Would I Buy It?
Heck yea! For the price point (roughly $36,000 for the Platinum trim level), there’s a lot of “bang for your buck”. The RAV4 is a great option for someone who wants the utility of an SUV with the drive of a sedan. It’s loaded with features, has great gas mileage, and comes from a brand you can trust to support all of your driving needs for many, many years.
You can check out the RAV4 here. Take a look and let me know what you think.
I had my first experience with Patty Burger last week. The Lake Orion location invited a group of local bloggers and foodies out to enjoy a complementary dinner and sampling of their menu offerings. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter a giveaway for a $50 gift card to the Lake Orion, Michigan location.
You guys… their menu is so varied and fun! We started off with cocktails – I had the Blackberry Kiss – but was quickly distracted by their boozey milkshakes. Yes, you heard that right! You can see those featured below, along with glimpse of their BBQ Chicken Salad. It was delicious, as was their Buffalo Chicken Salad. I had already had a little of both before I even thought about what to actually order for dinner.
I ultimately settled on the Waffle Burger, pictured below, and a side of Sweet Potato Chips. Some of the other snackers available were cheese curds (delicious!), fried pickles (bread and butter, with ranch and chipotle ranch – also delicious) and killer onion rings. I only ended up eating about half of my burger, and I was officially stuffed! It was a really interesting mixture of flavors – sweet from the waffles, salty from the bacon – and the texture of the waffles verses that of a traditional bun was a nice change of pace.
My favorite thing though? Patty’s Sweet Bites. They are honey drizzled balls of doughy heaven, and come with strawberry, fudge and caramel for dipping. We all ate an inordinate amount of them. Just ridiculous amounts.
If that all sounds wonderful and you’d like to try it out for yourself, you’re in luck! We’re giving away a $50 gift certificate to Patty Burger! The entry period runs through 12/4, so get your entries in before it’s too late!
The following post, A Holiday Gift Guide For Your Furry Friends, is written by Nat Smith, Rover.com community member. This post is sponsored by Rover.com. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers. This post may also contain affiliate links.
Holiday Gift Guide For Your Furry Friends
True, pets may not catch on to the concept of gift-giving…but they love thoughtful gifts all the same. Here are some classic go-to gifts for your own furry friends, or the pets of your holiday guests.
Look for sturdy toys from reliable brands, like the KONG Traxx Tire toy for dogs. You can also check your local pet store for natural antlers and bones. Not all cats like to chew, but many will give it a go. Others like cuddly stuffed animals or catnip-filled toys. Your choice will depend on the cat’s preferences and what toys they already have. Kitty’s Garden is a perfect alternative for cats who like to chew up Styrofoam.
Popular subscription boxes now allow the gift-giving to continue all year! Check out BarkBox for dogs and the MeowBox for felines. These fun-filled monthly boxes can be purchased individually and placed under the tree, or in multi-month series.
Pet Starter Kit
If your dog-loving friend has been talking about getting a dog, you might be tempted to pick out a puppy and put it under the tree. But not so fast. Rover’s complete guide to giving a puppy as a gift has another suggestion (and explains why): a starter kit, assembled from scratch that includes everything the new owner(s) will need to get started on their journey. This is ideal even if you wish to give your child a new pup–they should be fully prepared before the needy puppy shows up in real life. The kit can include books, toys, food and water bowls, a gift certificate to a local animal rescue, and more.
Even more than people, pets value experiences over things. And a pet-sitting gift card turns what could be a lousy experience into a great one: the next time the pet’s parent is away, the animal can have a true adventure instead of moping and missing them. In fact, Rover’s services can even be used to cover doggy daycare and drop-in visits, so it’s incredibly versatile.
If the pet in question is your own, book a sitter to look after them while you go shopping for the rest of your list. You can both have a fun, relaxing afternoon, and your pet gets a fun change of pace while you knock out the rest of your holiday stress.
You guys know how much I love kitchen short cuts, especially ones that can help you make amazing delicious and seemingly upscale dishes without too much effort. Well, today I’m going to share another of those kitchen short cuts with you and a recipe for my Parmesan Sage Gnocchi in Browned Butter Sauce!
Simply Potatoes® products are your fast track to casseroles, hash dishes and so much more. Even my Parmesan Sage Gnocchi starts with Simply Potatoes. Their products are simply made with always fresh, never frozen potatoes. They go from farm, to fridge, to fork. Check out all the varieties available here.
My gnocchi recipe starts with the Traditional Mashed Potatoes. Add an egg and flour, and you have a basic gnocchi dough. Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped sage add the unique flavor that make these gnocchi special.
Making gnocchi is not hard, you guys! It’s actually pretty quick and easy. It’s really just a matter of mixing a few ingredients to create a dough, rolling it into a “snake” shape and cutting little pillow-like puffs. You can use the prongs of a fork to roll grooves onto the sides for extra “sauce space” and visual texture. Get the details on the rest of the recipe below.
Where Can You Find Them?
You can find Simply Potatoes in grocery stores everywhere! Look in the refrigerated section. What are some ideas you might have for how to incorporate Simply Potatoes products into a recipe of your own?
What does every tween girl want? I can’t answer that question, but I know someone who can: my tweenage daughter. With the help of an almost 11 year old expert, I’ve compiled eleven super fun, super cool gift options in my Tween Girl Gift Guide.
If you were to make your own Tween Girl Gift Guide, what would be on it? Drop us a line in the comments or on Facebook and share what you’re buying for the tween girls in your life this holiday season?
This post was sponsored by No Yolks as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
A few weeks ago, I told you all about how I grew up eating No Yolks noodles in my grandma’s chicken noodles. My love of No Yolks is no joke and today I’m delivering on the recipe I promised you! Think past home-style noodle recipes and live outside of the box. Versatility and No Yolks go hand in hand! Soups (like Miso and French Onion), creative dishes like Sriracha Cheesy Noodles or Noodles with Kale and Walnut Pesto are just the tip of the iceberg!
My amazing recipe for you: Thai Shrimp Noodle Salad. It’s quick, flavorful and can feed a crowd. You don’t have a crowd to feed? That’s ok! Believe it or not, the leftovers are awesome too! “But don’t the noodles get soggy?” Nope! If you aren’t familiar with the brand, No Yolks are the things dreams are made of. First, they are high quality noodles that come out smooth, firm and fluffy and furthermore, they stay that way!
No Yolks is a healthy egg noodle alternative for all of your creatively amazing dishes. Because they are made from egg whites, they have no cholesterol and are low in fat and sodium! Check out the video below showing Pecorino and Black Pepper Noodles for another example of how you can incorporate these versatile noodles into your dinnertime routine. Available in Broad, Extra Broad, Fine, Kluski, Dumplings, and now Stir-Fry, there is a perfect noodle for you, no matter what dish you create.
No Yolks noodles are easy to incorporate into everyday meals. Simply toss them with some grilled or steamed veggies, use seasoned noodles as a bed for your favorite protein or mix in a blend of your favorite cheeses for a tasty side.
Grab the recipe for Thai Shrimp Noodle Salad below. Also check out this site for more inspiration.
Don’t those noodles look incredibly light and fluffy? If you want an easy side, these are perfect. First thing, boil up some No Yolks in water or a little broth. Next, toss them with nothing more than a little butter, salt and pepper. They are simply perfect! From casseroles to pasta salads to soups are more, you can’t go wrong with No Yolks.
Get social with No Yolks!
In addition to staying up to date on company news, you’ll be the first to know about new products, recipes, offers and more! You will find them on the social media sites listed below:
2 large bell peppers, red and orange, seeded and thinly sliced
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon hot chile sauce
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup coconut milk
Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the cooled noodles, shrimp, veggies, and cilantro. Add the dressing ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth, adding more coconut milk as needed until desired thickness is reached. Pour dressing over the noodle salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScotchLaminators #CollectiveBias
Are you looking to get organized during this busy time of year? Are you looking to have everything in place and ready before the fall festivities kick in? Do you have plans to get your meals prepped and planned before the holidays? Are you looking for a way to preserve your traditional recipes or create a budget for your seasonal shopping? If you need a little extra help getting your fall plans finished, check out this great deal at Walmart on the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator.
The Scotch™ Thermal Laminator is on rollback during the months of October to December for only $17.88! Laminators are typically priced at $19.97 so this is the time to buy!
I know how important it is to save money when you’re getting organized for the fall, so be sure to check out this great deal at Walmart!
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Conagra Brands. All opinions are mine alone. #RecipesThatCrock #SeasonalSolutions #CollectiveBias
One of the perks of our move to Michigan has been getting to enjoy all four seasons. Back in North Carolina, Spring and Fall were luxuries only offered in small doses. As the cooler temperatures set in, I’m getting more and more excited about all of the amazing meals I can make using my crock pot, like my Mongolian Pulled Pork Tacos!
I often work long hours. When those are added to my roughly 3 hour a day commute, the last thing I want to do when I get home is stand in front of the stove. That’s what makes my crock pot so amazing! I am always on the lookout for ways to put it to use. One of the things I’ve learned through may hours in the kitchen (and probably even more hours on Pinterest) is that crock pots are for so much more than soups and stews!
Did you know that 77% of consumers eat Chinese food, but only 25% make it at home? Why? It’s viewed as being too complicated to make. Trust me, Chinese-inspired meals don’t have to be complicated. Products like P.F. Chang’s® Home Menu Sauces and Hunt’s® Tomatoes make it simple! The sauces are versatile – not only are they great for stir fry, but they can also be used as dips, marinade and in the crock pot too! You can tell that these sauces were developed with really unique ingredients. Their premium, distinct flavors do all the heavy lifting for you! And, Hunt’s® Tomatoes, those are a pantry staple for me. I use them constantly! They can be used in virtually anything from appetizers to your main course.
My recipe for Mongolian Pulled Pork Tacos is a modern twist on Mongolian BBQ. In this recipe I use simple, flavorful ingredients like P.F. Chang’s® Home Menu Mongolian Style BBQ Sauce and Hunt’s® Petite Diced Tomatoes to help me accomplish my dinner goals. Paired with fresh fruit and vegetables, I have a dish that is rich in flavor and texture without spending all day in the kitchen.
Who wants to give my Mongolian Pulled Pork Tacos a try? It only takes a few minutes and a few ingredients to get started. Grab the full recipe below! If you love it, don’t forget to share it on Yummly, Pinterest or your other favorite recipe sharing site!
Flour Tortillas or Romaine Lettuce Hearts (low-carb option)
For The Pulled Pork
1 (14.5 oz) can Hunt's® Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 (2 lb) Pork Tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 cup julienned Carrots
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, diced
1/2 cup P.F. Chang’s® Home Menu Mongolian Style BBQ Sauce
For The Kale Apple Slaw
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Granny Smith Apple, julienned
1/2 cup julienned Carrots
1 cup shredded Kale, stems removed
Drain the tomatoes and spread them over the bottom of your crock pot.
Place the pork tenderloin on top of the tomatoes.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top the pork tenderloin with apples and carrots.
Drizzle with sauce.
Cook over low heat for 6-7 hours, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
While the pork is cooking, continue on to prepare the slaw.
In a bowl, combine the mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
Gently fold in the apples, carrots and kale.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
When the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, shred with two forks. It will fall apart quite easily.
Serve the pork in warmed flour tortillas, topped with slaw. Drizzle with additional sauce if desired. For a low-carb option, you may serve the pork and slaw in Romaine lettuce leaves instead of tortillas.
You can pick up everything you need to make your own Chinese-inspired meal, including P.F. Chang’s® Home Menu Sauces and Hunt’s® Tomatoes, at your local Meijer. Grab everything else on your shopping list while you’re there too!
Are you looking for more #RecipesThatCrock ? If so, click here for inspiration galore! What are your favorite recipes/meals to make using your crock pot? Tell us in the comments or by connecting with us on Facebook.
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