Five New Years Resolutions I’m Not Making, Plus The Only Resolution That Matters

Tonight, the door closes on 2015 and we get to spend the next 3 or 4 weeks crossing out a 5 for a 6 every time we write the date.  Gyms will be packed, people will make promises to themselves about this or that and by March or so, everything will be settled back to life as it is right now.  Regular gym goer’s will rejoice at the idea of not fighting for a parking space and people will start to realize they have already let those resolutions start slipping… and that is ok!

Happy woman

Only the closest of my friends and confidants know the hellacious roller coaster ride that my life has been since 2013.  Separation, divorce, moving (not once, not twice, but three times!), struggling financially to make it all work, looking for love again… all things that have been a big part of my existence.  I tend to keep most of it off of the site because listening to me whine about how hard it’s all been isn’t why you come here.  That being said, I encourage you all to skip those silly resolutions that everyone makes, yet no one keeps, and make one resolution with me.  Before I tell you what that is, here’s are five resolutions I won’t make this year:

Lose weight – I’m not skinny.  I will never be skinny.  I am comfortable in my own skin (most days) and I don’t see a reason to change that.

Spend Less, Save More – Divorce equals debt.  That’s the end of the story.  Even if I do spend less (and I don’t spend much now), it won’t be saved but will instead go toward paying off debt.

Learn Something Exciting – I have dabbled in so many things over the years, yet there are very few I’ve stuck with.  Instead of learning something new and exciting, I’m going to try to revisit some of my “once was” hobbies and see if I can re-ignite the spark that made me pick the up in the first place.

Get Organized – My life is chaotic.  It has been for a long time, and will probably continue to be.  I am organized in some aspects and completely scattered in others.  To be honest, I kind of like it that way.

Spend Time With Family – OK, I’ll admit that one seems a little selfish.  Here’s the deal though.  While we may want to see our family more, it’s not always as easy as just wanting it.  There are schedules (mine and theirs) to take into account and making it work is hard enough without adding pressure.

do what makes you happy

Now, back to that resolution I want you to make with me.  It may seem selfish when you first hear it, but give it a chance.  I want your only resolution to be Do Whatever Makes Me Most Happy.  Bam!  Yes, I am telling you all to put what everyone else thinks aside and do what you need to do for you All.Year.Long.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s some clarity I found through the divorce process, but either way I have realized that you cannot and should not live your life and make your choices based on what is better for everyone else and constantly put yourself and your happiness on the back burner.

Putting yourself on the back burner will wear you down, it will kill who you are.  Don’t lose yourself by letting other people tell you what you should and shouldn’t do.

If you can’t commit to the idea of doing this for a year, dial it back.  Try it for just one week.  See how if feels.  If you feel good about it, go for week 2.  No matter how long you set out to test the waters, make sure you stick to it and do what makes you happy, not what makes everyone else happy.

You deserve happiness just as much as anyone else.

 

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Pomegranate Pineapple Prosecco Fizz

Pomegranate Pineapple Prosecco Fizz Pinterest

2015 came and went in a blur.  I’m not sure if everyone feels that way, if it’s an age thing (the older I get, the faster the years seem to go) or if it’s just a matter of how much I really had going on this year.  Either way, we’re rolling full throttle into 2016 and whether you’re celebrating the change from 2015 to 2016 at home or out with friends, everyone can appreciate a little fizzy something to add a pop to your celebration of choice.

Pomegranate Pineapple Prosecco Fizz

I try not to wander the grocery store in a hunger induced coma, but from time to time it happens.  On a recent trip of the aforementioned scenario, I was perusing the wine aisle and discovered mini bottles of Prosecco.  How me being hungry landed me on the wine aisle, I can’t say.  If you’re not familiar, Prosecco is similar to Champagne.  Champagne in made in France and can be produced from a variety of grapes while Prosecco is produced in Italy and made from only one specific grape.  You can also get a good quality Prosecco for about half the price of a similar quality Champagne.   I call that a “win”.

This Pomegranate Pineapple Prosecco Fizz incorporates winter and summer flavors, giving you the perfect drink for celebrating the year past and the year to come.

Pomegranate Pineapple Prosecco Fizz

Serving Size: 2 Cocktails

Pomegranate Pineapple Prosecco Fizz

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Prosecco
  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 4 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 2 oz Pomegranate Juice
  • Chopped Pineapple (optional)
  • Pomegranate Seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Layer ice, pineapple bits and pomegranate seeds in two 10 oz glass.
  2. In a shaker, mix the Prosecco, Vodka, Pineapple and Pomegranate juices.
  3. Shake vigorously.
  4. Pour over ice.
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How will you be celebrating on New Years Eve?  We’re hanging at home with the kids, probably watching a movie and hopefully making it to the ball drop.  We don’t do the celebratory meals on New Years Day, but I do like to start my year off right with that midnight kiss!

 

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Peppermint Almond Roca Cupcakes

Peppermint Almond Roca Cupcakes

Cookies and pies seem to reign supreme at the holidays, but I think cupcakes are the real winner.  Peppermint candy, cupcakes.  How could these go wrong?  I’ve always enjoyed the flavors of chocolate and peppermint together.  Cupcakes are perfect for sharing, and the holidays are all about giving… so, whip up a batch to share with your neighbors, friends and guests!

Peppermint Almond Roca Cupcakes

Peppermint Almond Roca Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • Cupcakes:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure peppermint oil
  • 3/4 C buttermilk
  • 3/4 C hot water
  • Frosting:
  • 2 cups softened unsalted sweet cream butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powder sugar
  • 1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2-3 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • chocolate sauce to drizzle
  • Peppermint Almond Roca candies or similar

Instructions

  1. For the cupcakes:
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat the oil, eggs, peppermint and vanilla until foamy.
  4. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and hot water. Beat until everything is mixed
  5. Spoon the batter into liners 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Set to the side to cool before frosting for 30 minutes
  8. For the frosting:
  9. Cream together butter, powder sugar, cocoa, and almond until mixed and forming stiff peaks (if not "creamy" add in another 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and if it's too thin, add in more powder sugar)
  10. Pipe the frosting onto cooled cupcakes
  11. Drizzle with chocolate and top with a Peppermint Almond Roca candy
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$550 Paypal Cash Giveaway

It’s almost 2016! We thought we’d help you toast the New Year with a $550 Pay Pal Cash Giveaway!

$550 Pay Pal Cash Givaway

Want a reason to celebrate this New Year’s Eve? We’re giving you one. The chance to win $550 in Pay Pal cash to start the year off with a bang. Just imagine starting the year off with a little extra money in your bank account.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

What do you have to do to win? See below and follow the directions. You’ll be introduced to some really cool blogs and social media accounts. Want to enter every day? Tweet about the giveaway and you’ll get some bonus entries. We can’t wait to pick a lucky winner just in time for New Year’s Eve!

Brought to you by: A Party of Four, Amber Nicole Blog, Blushing NoirBudget Fairy Tale, Busy Being Jennifer, By Sarah Halstead, EmbellishmintsEmmy MomGenia Be Me, Getting Fit & Fab, Growing up Gabel, Hello NatureInspiration for Moms, It’s me, debcb!, Kiss my Tulle, Life with a Side of CoffeeMama Mommy MomMerlot MommyModern Mommyhood, Mom’s Messy MiraclesNaptime is My Time, Penney Lane, Simply Darrling, Southern Beauty GuideSummer ScrapsThis Girl’s Life Blog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions
Open to US Residents 18 years of age or older. Giveaways ends December 30th at 11:59 PM ET. Winner will be chosen by random drawing through Rafflecopter. Winner will have 48 hours to reply via email to accept the prize or another winner will be chosen. All entries will be validated. Sponsors reserve the right to invalidate any entry at their discretion.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

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Easy Five Minute Bruschetta

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

Five-Minute-Bruschetta-Recipe-Pinterest

The closer we get to Christmas, the more stressed out I get.  It seems that I can’t catch my breath between work, home, shopping for gifts and running everyone here and there.  I’ll spend most of my weekend in the car, or at least that’s how it feels.  Being on the go doesn’t mean that I can’t contribute something delicious to our holiday gatherings, even if I’ve only got five minutes to spare!

Toasted-French-Bread

Who doesn’t have canned tomatoes in their pantry?  People tend to think of them as an add-in and rarely as the star in tempting holiday appetizers and meals.  Me, I like to think that anything can be the star.  By using ConAgra products (like Hunt’s and RO*TEL) and other ingredients like fresh produce, you can create a simple and delicious dish to share in no time flat!  Stress-free cooking at it’s finest!

Hunts-Five-Minute-Bruschetta-MamaMommyMom

To make this simple and delicious Five Minute Bruschetta, you just need to grab a few items at your local Walmart.  You can see a full list below.  The best part about this Five Minute Bruschetta is that you can make it ahead!  It stores well in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Just pop it in the microwave for a minute or two to knock off the chill before serving.

East-Five-Minute-Bruschetta-Canned-Tomatoes

If you enjoyed this recipe, please rate it below!

Easy Five Minute Bruschetta

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Yield: Approximately 16

Serving Size: 1 topped toast

Easy Five Minute Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 1 Loaf French Bread
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 Can Hunt's Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
  • Fresh Mozzarella, sliced

Instructions

  1. Slice the French bread 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Using half the olive oil, brush French bread slices with olive oil.
  3. Place bread slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
  4. Place the bread under the broiler until toasted (approximately 2 minutes).
  5. Mix the tomatoes, onion, basil, vinegar, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper together.
  6. Top toasted bread slices with mozzarella, then the tomato mixture.
  7. Enjoy!
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Be sure to visit the canned tomatoes aisle at your local Walmart and grab your favorite pantry staples from ConAgra products, then check out other great #YesYouCAN recipes here.

Walmart In Store Hunts Pic

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5 Tips For Increasing Productivity When You Work From Home

#spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.

HP Envy 2 in 1

Working from home has its advantages, but it’s not always sunshine and roses.  When I think of days that particularly challenged me, my mind immediately jumps to one in particular.  My son was 2 or 3 and was home sick from preschool.  I had a conference call scheduled with a company from California and I was determined to make it happen.  Things were fine until my son licked my arm mid-conference call and I reacted by blurting out “Did you just lick me?!”.  Thankfully, the gentlemen on the call got a laugh out of it, but geez kid!  Can’t you see I’m trying to work here?

When you work at home, it’s incredibly easy to blur the lines between your personal and professional life, often times decreasing your productivity in one place or the other.  The situation above was is a good example of a day where I was lacking on both fronts.  My sick son certainly didn’t have my full attention, and neither did the company on the conference call.  I’ve learned a lot about working from home in the last seven years, so here are a few tips from me to you on how to make the most of working at home.

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Have a set schedule, including time for breaks and lunch.  Having a schedule will not only keep you on track for the day, but it will also increase your productivity.  If you need to schedule 30 minutes for checking in on Facebook, do it!  Set a timer and be committed to walking away from Facebook (or whatever your social media poison of choice may be) when it goes off.  Want to get your Candy Crush fix?  That’s ok too  put it on your schedule and use a timer.

Keep a To-Do list and check items off as you complete them.  I keep a personal and a professional To-Do list and I re-write it often.  Re-writing it not only keeps it neat and organized, but it also reminds me of what’s on it.  If you prefer your To-Do list be digital, there are apps for that!  It even comes pre-loaded on the new Intel 2-in-1 laptops.

Intel Logo 200x200

Invest in the right technology.  Nothing will kill your productivity more than lacking the right technology.  If you spend your day fighting with your computer or waiting on it to catch up to you, you’re losing valuable time and probably getting frustrated in the process.  Intel has some amazing technology that allows you to multitask without the lag.  One of my favorite things about my HP Envy 2-in-1 is that I can work in multiple programs simultaneously and never have to worry that my processor won’t be able to keep up.  In fact, the newest Intel processors provide about 12% more multitasking productivity than the previous generation.  They also go from “sleep” mode to “awake” and ready to roll in about .5 seconds.

Have a dedicated work space.  I can’t say how important this is!  No matter where it is within your house, or how small it is, set aside a work space that is yours and isn’t used for other things.  It’ really helps to “stay in the zone” if you’re in a space meant for working.  I’ve seen many cool office set ups, including converted closets, garage spaces and even spaces set up inside unused attic storage.  The important thing is that you have a dedicated space.

Know your limits.  If you know that you aren’t likely to sit for more than an hour without getting up and moving around, plan for it in your schedule.  If you know turning on the TV is a distraction, don’t turn on the tv and expect to stay on task.  Don’t over-commit yourself to daytime social activities or household chores that will take away from business hours (unless you work it into your schedule!)

Do you work from home?  What tips and tricks do you use to make sure you make the most of your productivity?  Shop for your next Intel powered PC here.  Whether you choose a tablet, and all-in-one or a 2-in-one like I have, you can’t go wrong with a product powered by Intel.

 

Posted in Blogging How To, Life in General | 8 Comments

Family Isn’t About The Who, It’s About The Love

This post was sponsored by Influence Central and their client, Tylenol.  All opinions shared here are my own.

I wrote earlier this week about how the landscape of my immediate family has changed in the last few years.  As things have changed, it’s become increasingly evident what things in life really matter and which ones don’t.  The specific days we spend together matter less, but making the most of the days we have has become the most important.

#HowWeFamily

I don’t get to spend every holiday with my kids, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate them all.  For Easter, we celebrated with my extended family the weekend after the actual holiday.  For Halloween, I helped the kids shop for their costumes, even though I knew they’d be Trick-or-Treating with their dad.  For Thanksgiving, my entire family on my mom’s side gets together the Saturday following the actual holiday so that we can all spend time together without stressing ourselves out on Thanksgiving Day.  For Christmas, it’s the hardest, we do Santa gifts a little late, but the kids always know Santa drops their presents off Christmas Eve night.

We do all the things, we just do them different.  For over 60 years, nothing has mattered more to TYLENOL® than the well-being of your family.  To celebrate families of all shapes and sizes, TYLENOL,sup.® created the #HowWeFamily program, showcasing the stories of 11 real American families, embodying the principle that it’s not who you love, but how you love that’s important.  Watch the #HowWeFamily video (grab a tissue!) and share in the comments how you family and what makes your family unique.

 

 

Posted in Life in General | 13 Comments

What’s Hot in Tween Girl Fashion


So, you’ve got a Tween.  Now what?

My little princess (who hates being called “little”) just celebrated her 9th birthday this week.  In her mind, she’s practically grown,  In my mind, she’s got a ways to go yet.  She is definitely developing a more grown up personality, and with it, her own sense of style.  She very much knows what’s in style for girls her age, so when I told her we were going to have a little birthday shopping spree at Justice, she was thrilled.

Addy 5

She immediately wanted to hop online and shop.  It’s scary how tech savvy our kids are these days.  I let her do the navigating as she worked her way around ShopJustice.com to find just what she wanted.  Of course, she wanted everything.  Even she knows that Justice is THE go-to destination for stylish tween girls this holiday season and all year long and mom knows that no matter if we shop in-store or online, it will be easy and hassle-free for anyone with a tween girl in their life to find great holiday gifts or gifts for any other time of year too!

Addy 2We decided it was best to star our shopping in the “outfits” section so she could get some ideas.  We picked some pieces that would mix and match, and how could we say no to the boots?  We couldn’t.  I don’t think there was a single thing we saw that she wouldn’t have ordered given the chance.

JusticeBeing that the holidays are closing in at a ridiculous speed, I cut her off around $150.  She could’ve easily filled her closet if I had let her, but with the very reasonable prices on clothing, accessories and more at Justice, I think Santa may be doing some shopping there for her too.  I think Justice has Santa covered with THE hottest holiday fashion and something that’s sure to please every tween girl, not just mine.

IMG_2707Once we wrapped up our little shopping spree, she asked me every day when her package of goodies would arrive and how long we had to wait to try it all on and take pictures.  She has become quite the little camera diva.  She also knew I’d share the pictures here with all of you, and she loves helping mom with her work.  She happily bounced outside in the 30 degree morning air to snap some pictures.  She even sucked the dog into the action.

IMG_2706 IMG_2697 Addy 1IMG_2698So, what do you think about our finds?  Do you see anything that you’re tween girl couldn’t live without?  (Hint: THE BOOTS)  Are you shopping for a tween in your life this holiday season?  Don’t stress! ShopJustice.com has you covered with a gift guide that will help you pick just the right gift for any tween girl in your life.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Posted in Beauty & Fashion, Photography, Reviews | 7 Comments

Keeping Holiday Traditions, Even As Circumstances Change

Snowman Sugar Cookies

Before you read… this post includes a giveaway for $10 in Paypal Cash!  Leave a comment below and I’ll choose one person at random to win $10 in Paypal cash to help you get everything you need to decorate your cookies (or supply goodies for another holiday tradition).

So many things have changed for my family in the last two years.  My kids now know the stress of splitting holidays between two parents and I know the stress of spending some of the typical holiday days without my kids.  Just because the circumstances have changed, we don’t have to give up on our holiday traditions.

Decorating Christmas Cookies

We’ve always made cookies at Christmas. Granted, it has also always been a Christmas Eve activity.  This year will be the first year that I haven’t spent Christmas Eve with my kids.  They are with their dad the week of Christmas, and selfishly, I’m taking a trip with my boyfriend to spend the holidays with his family.  Not being with my kids on Christmas Eve doesn’t have to be the end of our holiday tradition.  We just need to adjust a little.

Iced Sugar Cookies

When I asked the kids if they wanted to go ahead and make our cookies a little early, they jumped on it.  We hit up Publix and grabbed Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix, powdered sugar, food coloring and Ziploc Containers and made Sunday our cookie day.  You can grab coupons here.  I like using Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix because I don’t have to worry about much measuring and the kids can help add the few other things we need to have a perfect dough every time.

Clemson Snowman CookieWe threw a few cookies in the freezer to have ready for Santa on Christmas Eve, and even though they won’t be with me to see it (I’ll take pictures), I’ll make sure Santa gets his cookies like always.

With circumstances being different for so many families these days, what challenges do you face when it comes to the holidays and keeping traditions alive?  How have you made changes to adapt to the ever changing family dynamic and the struggle to make it all work, especially around the holidays? Leave a comment below and I’ll choose one person at random to win $10 in Paypal cash to help you get everything you need to decorate your cookies (or supply goodies for another holiday tradition).

Posted in Food, Life in General, Parenting | 13 Comments

One Stop Gift Shop for Star Wars Fans Big and Small

IMG_2712The first weekend of December has come and gone and we are officially in full holiday shopping mode.  The kids and I trekked out to several places Saturday, but our first stop was the Hallmark Gold Crown store.  With Star Wars coming out on the 18th, it’ll be on everyone’s minds at Christmas and having several uncles that grew up on Star Wars, I knew we could find something for all of them.

IMG_2713Coffee is as much as part of my family as my uncles are, and coffee mugs (especially really cool ones!) always make great gifts.  We picked out a few mugs, Itty Bittys and a sweet treat to stuff inside.  We also grabbed what we needed for wrapping right there too.  Check out the video my daughter made on Youtube showing how to put together a cute Star Wars holiday gift.

IMG_2715Completely unrelated to Star Wars, but something I couldn’t pass up?  An adult coloring book!  These were up by the register and I decided to grab one for myself.  These are so fun!  These coloring books would be perfect for older girls or women on your list.  Grab a pack of colored pencils and you’re all set!

Check out your local Hallmark Gold Crown store or Hallmark.com for these great gifts and so much more!

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