How To Plan An Epic Night Out With Friends (And A Quick Evite Tutorial!)

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

Quick and Easy Evite

My girlfriends and I, we seriously do not get enough time together.  Not even close.  With all of us being working moms and living spread out a bit (trust me, 20 miles in Charlotte traffic is a lot!), it’s hard for us to find time to get together as a group.  Coffee and one on one chatting is nice, but sometimes you just want to go to dinner with a group of friends!

Over the years, I’ve figured out that it is next to impossible to make plans that work for everyone, but there are a few tips I can share to help get the best attendance when you try to get friends together for dinner.

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1 – Before you set anything in stone, throw some feelers out there!  Fire off a quick email or Facebook message to those you’d love to have attend and get an idea of their availability over the next few weeks, days that are better than others, etc.  Use the responses you get back to gauge interest, choose a location, date and time.

2 – When choosing a location, don’t pick a place just because it’s the most convenient for you!  Pick something appealing and convenient for the group!  While we are all spread out pretty far, there is a large concentration of us on the south side of Charlotte.  I live and work on the north side of town.  Oh well, south side it is!

3 – Keep in mind the ages of your friends’ children.  If there are a lot of babies or particularly young children, will your event be “family” friendly or is it an adults only event.  Make it clear up front which is the case.

4 – Reminders, reminders, reminders!  Two weeks before, a week before, two days before, and morning of.  We are BUSY MOMS and our brains get a little “full” sometimes.

For our group, Buffalo Wings and Rings was a perfect choice for dinner.  First, the location was great for our group.  Second, the food is ah-mazing! (More on that in a minute)  Third, the atmosphere is perfect for getting together a group of friends.  It’s not so quiet that you feel like your bothering other people with your group, but also not so loud that you can’t have a conversation.

When I sent out my “feeler” message on Facebook, I asked specifically about interest in dinner at Buffalo Wings and Rings and what days would work best for everyone.  After getting some feedback, I sent a date and sent official Evites. (I’ll show you how to make a cute, quick Evite graphic below).  We ended up with a group of 6 (which is pretty good for us!) and we had a great time!

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Back to the ah-mazing food… First, did you know that Buffalo Wings and Rings makes all of their food using fresh ingredients?  They do!  Fresh, not frozen, and they have a chef on staff in the kitchen to ensure quality.  Here’s some of our amazing food… it was all SO GOOD!

PicMonkey Collage

As promised, here’s a quick tutorial on making your on Evite image using PicMonkey.  You can email out your invite, upload it to a Facebook event or even go old-school and print/mail them!  For this, I’m using PicMonkey.  It’s a great, and free, resource!  Check out the FlipAGram below for a visual guide to making your own Evite.

1 – Choose *Design* and pick a size

2 – Rotate your design if you want a landscape layout

3 – Choose a Background

4 – Add Text and Graphics

5 – Save and Share your finished Evite

How do you manage finding time to get together with friends?  Do you have a set day/time you meet each month or is it as hard for you to find time to get together with your friends as it is for me?  Any tips and tricks to share?

 

Posted in Food, Life in General | Leave a comment

Get Great Publix Coupons! (And a $15 Paypal Giveaway)

 

IMG_2137I am always looking for something quick I can make for a dinner side, but I need it to be something my kiddos will eat.  Suddenly Salad Pasta Salad has always been one of those things.  It’s a great side for sandwiches, burgers, grilled chicken or anything else you might serve for dinner this summer!

Right now, Publix has a great $0.50 off coupon for Suddenly Salad (among other fantastic coupons too!).  You can grab those coupons by clicking HERE.

IMG_2138I love that you can not only make Suddenly Salad ahead of time, but you can also add a protein, veggies or other mix-ins to make a great side an amazing main dish!  My DIY Frozen Grilled Chicken Breast Strips make an excellent protein mix-in and this time of year is perfect for plucking fresh veggies from the garden.

There is also a Suddenly Salad recipe page you can check out by clicking HERE.

After you grab your coupons, simply leave a comment below to enter to win $15 Paypal CASH!

Posted in Food | 14 Comments

Time Does Not Heal All Wounds

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Today is easily the hardest day of the year for me. Of all the things I’ve experienced in my life, nothing has had the impact on me that losing my best friend did.

It’s amazing how after three years, still not a day passes that I don’t wonder what she would say or do if she were here with me. Her loss is a wound that time will never heal, but it has left me with many valuable lessons about life and what truly matters.

Make sure the people you love know it, and tell them with more than words; tell them with your actions.

Don’t shut out the people who care for you, even over the most serious of arguments. You may not always have tomorrow to fix things; fix them today.

Life is short, sometimes much shorter than you expect. Soak up the experiences life offers you and don’t be afraid to live.

Posted in Life in General | 2 Comments

Kmart, March of Dimes and a Jillian Michaels Giveaway

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Kmart & March of Dimes.  I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #TeamKmart Jillian Michaels

Kmart, the top corporate fundraiser for the March of Dimes, has teamed with celebrity fitness icon, mom and Kmart ambassador Jillian Michaels to kick-off its 2015 fundraising campaign.  The funds raised by Kmart will help support teams of scientists who are working to discover the causes of premature birth and develop innovative treatments at five March of Dimes Research Centers.

My babies weren’t premature.

People who know me know that neither of my babies were premature.  In fact, both had to be served eviction notices.  Apparently, my uterus in a comfy little space.  So, why do I choose to support March of Dimes verses any other research organization?  Babies.  The babies of friends, family, neighbors and complete strangers.  Babies who have no shot at anything if we don’t provide for them.  Babies like my friend’s daughter, Maelyn.

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Maelyn’s Story

You can read Maelyn’s full story here, but I will share the short version.   On April 23rd, 2005 Maelyn Michelle Greist arrived 15 weeks premature and weighed 1lb 11oz.  Maelyn spent 3 months in the NICU, surviving MRSA, 5 blood transfusions, 2 spinal taps & heart surgery.  Now, thanks to miracles, modern medicine and research sponsored from donations made to the March of Dimes, Maelyn is a bright, funny & loving 10 year old with no lasting effects of her early arrival.

Why Kmart?

This year marks Kmart’s 32nd consecutive year supporting March of Dimes and the 23rd as national sponsor of the March for Babies® walks.  March for Babies® walks take place this spring and every spring in 700 communities across the country.  You can check out more information about the partnership between Kmart and March of Dimes and learn about contributing in-store and online by visiting Kmart.com/MarchofDimes.  Kmart has raised more than $125 million to support the work of March of Dimes!

Jillian Michaels

THE GIVEAWAY

Want an exclusively designed Jillian Michaels/March of Dimes T-shirt?  Two lucky commenters will receive one just for leaving a comment on this post.

Do you support March of Dimes?  If so, why?  Have a preemie of your own?  Share your story!

Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstakes, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.  Winners will be selected May 10th and notified via email the same day.  Prize fulfillment will be completed by Influence Central.

Posted in Current Giveaways, Giveaways, Life in General | 7 Comments

Heart of Haiti – Giving Back Through Home Decor

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with a product for review for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.Heart of Haiti

We all remember the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  How could we forget?  Haiti’s earthquake was a 7.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale; injuring 300,000+, leaving 250,000+ dead and leaving 1 million+ homeless.  The suffering was and is immeasurable.

With the average Haitian’s annual income being $400 per year (yes, your read that right) and the largest sector of employment being artisans (approximately 400,000 of a population of 10 million), limited ability to market products, limited access to raw materials and a poor infrastructure have left the country struggling.

And so, Heart of Haiti was born.  Social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit and Macy’s were both involved in the start of Heart of Haiti and Rwanda Path to Peace.  Clinton Bush Haiti Fund partnered with the two on the Heart of Haiti initiative in 2010 and FairWinds Trading partnered with the pair on the Rwanda Path to Peace.  Artisans of these initiatives make 50% of the wholesale price of their products.

I received these beautiful Erzulie Cocktail Napkins from Macy’s last week.  They are absolutely gorgeous!  I love that they are hand made, unique and that my owning them does more good than just soaking up condensation from my wine glass.  There are several other pieces in the collection that I would like to have for my apartment, particularly some of the tobacco leaf and soapstone pieces.  The Heart of Haiti products make the perfect gift too!

What is Heart of Haiti

Heart of Haiti product is available in-store at these locations: Herald Square, Brooklyn Downtown, Metro Center, State Street, Northland Center, Seattle Downtown, Portland Downtown, San Francisco Union Square, Biltmore Fashion Park, South Coast Plaza Home, Mission Valley Home, Dallas Galleria, Lenox Square Mall, and Dadeland.  All products are also available on macys.com – type in search bar ‘Haiti’ or ‘Rwanda’.

Heart of Haiti NapkinsHeart of Haiti is on social media! You can follow them at @HeartofHaiti or www.facebook.com/heartofhaiti.

Posted in For the Home, Reviews | 1 Comment

A Fuller House? Have Mercy!

This post is sponsored by Netflix.  As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I receive complimentary Netflix streaming.  We were Netflix customers for years before becoming members of the #StreamTeam.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Kids Watching Full House #StreamTeamMy kids and I have a fairly strict evening routine during the week.  We come home, we do home work, we have dinner, we take showers and we settle down to watch a little television before bed.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, what we watch my change a little bit, but what we watch during the week rarely changes… it’s almost always reruns of Full House.

Me: Addison, who’s your favorite character on Full House?

Addison: Michelle, why?  She’s one of the Olsen Twins.  Sometimes, like in the one where she falls off her horse, they use both of the Olsen Twins in one show.

Me: What you would you think if they made a new Full House show with all the characters grown up?

Addison: I would like that!  The Olsen Twins are already grown up.  Are they going to do that?

Me: Yes! Netflix is going to have a new show called Fuller House.

Addison: When, when, when?!

Me: Next year.

Addison: That’s too long!

The set up for the new show is similar to the set up for the original show, except this time it’s DJ who’s the single parent needing help to care for her children.  Her sister, Stephanie and former neighbor/BFF Kimmy come to her rescue as they all move in together to help DJ care for her children.  Uncle Jesse is hanging around as producer/special guest, as well reoccurring appearances from other original cast members.

While there will never be a replacement for the original Full House, the kids and I are all very excited to see what Netflix and Fuller House have in store for us next year.

Do you watch Full House or did you when it was originally on the air on the last 90s?  What do you think about the Full House reboot?

 

 

Posted in Entertainment | Leave a comment

Sometimes I Get Lost In Target

You know those quick, “I’ll be right in and out” trips to the store that we all try to make?  Yeah.  They rarely go as planned.  Tonight, we ran in for a case for my new iPhone 6 and some nail polish (I’m obsessed with the new Sally Hansen Gel line) and we walked out 45 minutes and $100 later.  Geez.  Last week I ran in for batteries and came out with a patio.  Kind of.

Target PatioI lived in my apartment for 7 months and haven’t taken the time to put a single thing on the deck.  I’m not sure what made me thing about it while I was in the store or if I just wandered into the patio/outdoor department, but before I knew it, I had a chair.  And then a table.  And I couldn’t leave the table empty or sit in a chair without a cushion.  Sigh.

Target Patio Side TableThen there were the candles and the bird.  I mean, I couldn’t leave the table empty.  The wine, I already had that in the fridge.  I think it’s kinda cute.  It was definitely cheaper than buying a big patio set that wouldn’t get used by anyone other than me.  And I very much enjoyed sitting on my deck, drinking my wine by candlelight, wrapped in a blanket.  It’s still kind of chilly here.

Wine on PatioWell, I might not be the only one enjoying the deck after all…

Hanging with the kiddo

 

Posted in Apartment Living, For the Home | Leave a comment

When Politics Don’t Matter

For the most part, Wednesday was a pretty normal day.  I got up, showered, went to work, left for lunch, sat in a meeting with the President of the United States, got my hair colored, had dinner and went to bed.  What?  You want me to back up to the part about the POTUS?

Ticket to #ObamaTownHall

Back up to last Saturday.  On Saturday, I got an email from BlogHer, one of the amazing networks of women I belong to, telling me that our fearless leader – Lisa Stone was going to be in Charlotte on Wednesday for a “town hall” meeting on issues affecting working women.  I wanted to go, but I couldn’t justify skipping out on work on such short notice.  On Sunday, I got another email basically telling me the POTUS would be the speaker!  What?!  I spent the day Sunday thinking “there’s no way to pull this off”, Monday debating whether I should push my boss for the afternoon off, and Tuesday explaining to my boss that regardless of political affiliation, there is no way to pass on sitting down to chat with the President of the United States.   Oh, yes.  I was going!

Waiting to see Pres Obama #ObamaTownHall

I left work at noon, met up with some other blogger friends who were invited as well, and stood outside in the cold, wet weather to go through security.  We had to be through security and into the room where the meeting was happening by 1:45.  The POTUS was scheduled to arrive at 3.  We used the wait to get to know some of the other invitees, catch up with each other, and attempt to make our Secret Service agent smile.  (It was hard work, and took a lot of effort, but we managed a smile and even made him blush!)

Secret Service Selfie #ObamaTownHall

The shear volume of cameras and lights surrounding us was staggering. We knew the meeting was being live streamed, but wow!

So many cameras #ObamaTownHall

When 3 pm rolled around, Lisa took the mic and we were off!  After I missed my chance to see the President speak at the DNC a few years ago, I never thought I’d have the chance again.  To sit in the same room with the Commander in Chief is a privilege and honor, regardless of your political affiliation.  The Office of the President of the United States deserves respect.  Period.  Just ask the ladies who were with me.  There were quite a few Republicans in the mix and even they will tell you that the experience was quite amazing.

Obama Shaking Hands #ObamaTownHallThere is no question that the man is a wonderful speaker. No question at all.  He took questions from the audience, rolled with microphone issues and even jumped in to make sure the few women with fussy babies knew that he heard them, but wasn’t bothered by them in the least.  Most importantly, he answered the questions that were posed to him the best he could.  Not all the answers were answers that everyone liked, but that’s the way it works.  You can’t make everyone happy.

Obama Speaking #ObamaTownHallOne thing we discussed that really stuck with me was teacher pay, specifically here in North Carolina.  If you are an NC teacher, know an NC teacher or just keep up with teaching/education news in general, you know that teachers pay – especially in NC – is terrible.  In fact, I don’t think terrible covers it.  Clearly, neither does the POTUS.  Even he said you can’t get much worse than NC.  That made me incredibly sad.  Incredibly.  I’ll have a whole separate post on that topic coming soon, but I wanted to touch on it here as being one of our topics because I feel like teacher pay and providing a good education for our children isn’t a Republican issue, it isn’t a Democratic issue, it’s a human issue – much like most of the other topics we covered in the #ObamaTownHall meeting.

Standing with the Presidential Podium #ObamaTownHallI guess where I’m going with all of this is that sometimes we should take a step back, forget about being a Republican or a Democrat and just be a human.  Be intelligent, educated, humans – looking out for our kids (you know, the ones who will run this country someday) – and take a moment to look at the bi-partisan issues and do what we can to work together and make things happen!

Want to read more about #ObamaTownHall and what some of the other attendees thought?  Check out these posts:

Why I took my infant to meet Obama

#ObamaTownHall – My Experience

Respect: Teaching Kids About The President

What issues do you think we ought to be talking about together, as humans – not as Democrats and Republicans?

Posted in Life in General | Leave a comment

Prepare For The Fuzz

I don’t feel like I will need to say much about the cuteness which you are about to witness, just that at least 1 – if not 2 – of these little critters will be living with us in about 4 weeks.  We’re just waiting on them to wean and be ready to leave their mama, then it’s off to Casa Rippy for us to love them, pet them and call them George.  Not really.  We haven’t decided on a name or two yet.

Anyway, here is the cuteness overload you’ve been waiting for…

Lion Head Bunny Baby 1 baby bunnies 2 Lion Head Bunny Babies Lion Head Bunny Babies 3 Bunny Nose Baby Lion Head Bunny 2 Baby Bunny

Posted in Life in General, Photography | Leave a comment

Hand-Painted Wine Glasses – A Simple How-To

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Finish® Max In One™. All opinions are mine alone. #ShowMeTheShine #CollectiveBias

Hand Painted Wine Glass How To

I love to give gifts, but sometimes I really struggle with choosing what to give the person who has everything.  Most of my girlfriends are huge fans of wine, so we often gift each other with wine or new wine glasses for special occasions.  I decided to try my hand at something new… hand-painted wine glasses.

Hand Painted Wine Glass Supplies

I try to make my gifts personal, something with meaning for the recipient.  Hand-painting your own wine glasses will let you make something as personal as you want it for your recipient.  Maybe you paint a phrase that has a meaning for you, or maybe a funny saying.  Maybe they love roses, or sunflowers or bunnies?  The possibilities are endless, and it’s so much easier than you think!

Swirly Wine Glasses

First things first, you need your supplies:

wine glasses

acrylic paint

paint brushes

Finish Shine & Protect

Step 1 – It’s super important to start with exceptionally clean glasses, so I run my glasses through a dishwasher cycle with Finish® Max In One™ that I picked up at Target.  Let your glasses dry thoroughly before you begin the painting process.

Step 2 – Layout your design, or decide to go at it free-handed.  You don’t necessarily have to put your design on paper, but having a good clear idea of where you’re headed will make the process a whole lot easier.

Hand Painted Wine Glass Sunflower

Step 3 – Paint!  Start slow and don’t be in a rush.  The best thing to do is find a place where you can leave your supplies set out for a few days and do this a little at a time.  It gives your paint a chance to dry between payers/coats and allows you to add depth to your painting by layering lighter colors on top of darker colors.  See how I used lighter colors to highlight the sunflower petals?

Step 4 – Once completely dry – at least 24 hours after your last painting – you want to use the oven to set the paint.  Place your glass(es) on a foil lined baking sheet and put them in a cold oven.  Turn the oven on at 350° and let it heat for 20 minutes.  Turn the oven off and leave the glass inside for another 10 minutes to cool before removing it from the oven.

Hand Painted Wine Glasses with Swirls

Viola!  Your hand-painted wine glasses are done and ready to gift!  You can grab everything you need for this project and Save 5% on NEW! Max in ONE & Quantum Max Small Size 3/29-4/25 at Target using Cartwheel.  I love that Finish® Max In One™ always leaves my glasses clean, streak and spot free and never damages the glass.  You can win a Target gift card in the Finish® #ShineAndProtect Giveaway near the bottom of this post! (Must be 18+ to win.)

Hand Painted Wine Glasses - All About the Detail

Do you love giving and receiving handmade gifts?  What’s your favorite?  Has trying hand-painted wine glasses been on your crafting to-do list?

Finish Max In One

Finish #ShineAndProtect Giveaway!

Finish At Target

Posted in Crafts, For the Home | 19 Comments