A Night Out in Royal Oak, Michigan and a Review of the 2017 Toyota RAV4

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

2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum Review

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 Michigan Downtown

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.

The Great Escape Room Royal Oak Michigan ReviewIn 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.

Little Tree SushiOf 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.

The Exterior

Toyota RAV4 Platinum 2017 ReviewFirst, 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

2017 Toyota RAV4 Interior ReviewAs 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

Dynamic Radar Cruise Control ReviewI 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.


Posted in Reviews, Travel | 11 Comments

Patty Burger – Review and Gift Card Giveaway

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.

Patty Burger

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.

Patty Burger MilkshakesPatty Burger Chicken Salad

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.

Patty Burger Waffle Burger

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!

Patty Burger Stacked

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Posted in Current Giveaways, Giveaways, Reviews | 3 Comments

A Holiday Gift Guide For Your Furry Friends

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.

Training Treats

Even an older pet can benefit from the positive reinforcement of nibbly bits used for training. Look for healthy options with few additives and whole, real ingredients. Dogs will love dehydrated liver treats, while cats will enjoy grain-free salmon bites. Pet parents might also appreciate training aids like the Gentle Leader Head Collar, or guides like The Art of Raising a Puppy.

Chew Toys & Chew Alternatives

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.

Subscription Boxes

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.

Gift Card to Rover.com

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.

Posted in Life in General | Leave a comment

Parmesan Sage Gnocchi in Browned Butter Sauce

Parmesan Sage Gnocchi in Browned Butter SauceYou 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!

Potato GnocchiSimply 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.

Simply PotatoesMy 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.

How To Make GnocchiMaking 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.

Parmesan Sage Gnocchi in Browned Butter SauceWhere 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?

Parmesan Sage Gnocchi in Browned Butter Sauce

Parmesan Sage Gnocchi in Browned Butter Sauce


    For the Gnocchi:
  • 1 package Simply Potatoes® Traditional Mashed Potatoes
  • 2-3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Sage
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup Butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2-3 Fresh Sage Leaves


    For the Gnocchi:
  1. Combine the Simply Potatoes® Traditional Mashed Potatoes, Parmesan cheese, sage and egg in a bowl. Mix Well.
  2. Add in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the mixture reaches a dough like consistency.
  3. The dough should not be sticky, nor dry and crumbling.
  4. Take sections of the dough and roll into "snake-like" tubular logs, about 1/2 inch in diameter.
  5. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
  6. Roll sides of each piece of dough against the prongs of a fork for texture.
  7. Drop the gnocchi into salted, boiling water for 4-5 minutes.
  8. They should float to the top when they are cooked through.
  9. Drain and set aside.
  10. For the Sauce:
  11. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  12. Add the sage leaves.
  13. Stir constantly until the butter browns.
  14. Remove the sage leaves.
  15. Remove from heat.
  16. To Finish:
  17. Add cooked gnocchi to the butter mixture while the pan is still hot.
  18. Toss quickly to coat.
  19. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon.
  20. Garnish with additional chopped sage and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
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Tween Girl Gift Guide

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.

Here are our Tween Girl Gift Guide picks –

Tween Girl Gift GuideUnicorn Tape Dispenser  //  Pusheen Plushie  //  Wonder  // Cat Cell Phone Holder

Fuji Instax Mini  //  Wall Hanging Photo Frame  //  Wreck This Journal

Pusheen Slippers  //  Colored Pencils  //  Bath Bombs  // Brush Tip Markers

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?

Posted in Life in General | 4 Comments

Thai Shrimp Noodle Salad

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!


Recipe Inspiration:

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:

No Yolks Website

No Yolks Facebook

No Yolks Instagram

No Yolks Pinterest

How are you using your noodle with No Yolks? Do you have a favorite recipe that wouldn’t be complete without No Yolks? Share it with us on Facebook or here in the comments.

Thai Shrimp Noodle Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 12 Servings

Thai Shrimp Noodle Salad


  • 1 package No Yolks Broad Noodles
  • 24 oz medium cooked shrimp
  • 6 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 3 small seedless cucumbers, julienned
  • 2 large bell peppers, red and orange, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Dressing:
  • 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


  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water and set aside.
  2. 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.
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Get Organized for Fall

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!

Posted in Crafts, For the Home | 1 Comment

Mongolian Pulled Pork Tacos

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Conagra Brands.  All opinions are mine alone.  #RecipesThatCrock #SeasonalSolutions #CollectiveBias

Mongolian-Pulled-Pork-Tacos-Collage-5One 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!


What’s Cooking?

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.

Kale-Apple-Slaw-1My 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.


Make It:

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!

Mongolian Pulled Pork Tacos

Mongolian Pulled Pork Tacos


  • 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


  1. Drain the tomatoes and spread them over the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Place the pork tenderloin on top of the tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Top the pork tenderloin with apples and carrots.
  5. Drizzle with sauce.
  6. Cook over low heat for 6-7 hours, or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  7. While the pork is cooking, continue on to prepare the slaw.
  8. In a bowl, combine the mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  9. Gently fold in the apples, carrots and kale.
  10. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  11. When the pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, shred with two forks. It will fall apart quite easily.
  12. 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.
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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!

Conagra Meals That CrockAre 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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Posted in Recipes | 12 Comments

How To Raise An Emotionally Intelligent Child

How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent ChildIt’s 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning as I write this. Somehow, I find myself sandwiched onto a yellow school bus with a high school marching band en route to a competition. As a chaperone, hidden somewhere amidst the hanging garment bags, I am getting a firsthand glimpse of the emotional lives of teenagers. We live in a small district, so as I look down the aisle I notice every clique is represented: jocks, cowboys, preppies, bookworms, of course band geeks, and more.

We have giggling girls, boys talking about video games, antisocial kids focusing on their phones, and one misguided male who is threatening to stick his “plume” in an unmentionable spot. As these kids enjoy the chance to visit over the hum of the engine and tires rumbling down the highway, my mind turns to recent research where experts are finding that grades or academic standings aren’t the best predictors for a person’s ability to thrive or succeed. Surprisingly, the secret to success might just be a person’s emotional intelligence.

In fact, developing a child’s emotional intelligence can have immediate and long term benefits. By teaching children to recognize and understand their feelings, we can improve their educational performance, mental health, and social skills while reducing the presence of behavioral and anxiety problems. Glancing around, I can see these findings at work while observing the children interact on the bus.

Unfortunately, emotional intelligence isn’t always taught in schools or at home. As parents, we must challenge ourselves to teach our sons and daughters about their feelings right along with the three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic). After all, it’s the loving thing to do to help set them up for success in life.

For ideas on how to raise an emotionally intelligent child, please scroll through the following 7 tips:

Model healthy emotions and relationships. It’s no secret that our boys and girls learn from our example. However, we need to make sure that we are demonstrating correct methods for handling our emotions, life’s curve balls, and relationships. It is generally a good idea to avoid harsh judgments, yelling, name calling, gossiping, and more in front of children, because they do pick up our vocabulary and beliefs.

Open the lines of communication. Everyday, make it a point to have a conversation with your child. When they are young this isn’t a difficult task. Our youngest sons and daughters eagerly will share anything and everything about their day, but as they age this desire to talk wanes. To keep the dialogue going clear into young adulthood start listening today and avoid lecturing or yelling. Our ultimate goal is to get our children to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and feelings with us.

Give emotions a label. To develop emotional intelligence, kids first need to identify and recognize their feelings. This will help children label their emotions and communicate their needs. Teaching kids the correct vocabulary empowers them as individuals, friends, students, partners, and eventually employees or parents.

Teach empathy. Raising emotionally intelligent children often depends on a child’s ability to understand other people’s point of views. This is a life skill that takes time to learn, but empathy has the ability to sustain relationships and form new ones. Start talking about emotions, begin volunteering, and find ways for forming relationships to encourage kids to learn how to see the world from another person’s perspective.

Children Caring For OthersProvide opportunities to help or care for others. When it comes to teaching emotional intelligence, kids need to directly see the impact their actions have on others. Look for ways to volunteer, do kind deeds, or adopt a family pet so children can have plenty of practice to understand emotions.  

Teach a child to read body language. It sounds simple, but many children don’t realize that someone can be smiling, but sad on the inside. Even adults struggle with recognizing emotions at times. Discuss nonverbal cues with a child and when you witness body language talk about what frowns, lack of eye contact, fidgeting hands, closed fists, hunched shoulders, and tense muscles might mean. Body language helps us understand another person’s feelings.  Far too often people mask their true emotions with words or fake smiles.

Use literature as a tool to teach emotional intelligence. Tap into the powerful resources of books, movies, and music to help our kids discover the world of emotions vicariously through the eyes of a character. Find materials that address different perspectives, overcoming adversity, teach social skills, and touch on emotions. This is also a great way to talk about inappropriate and appropriate behaviors.

What tips do you have for raising an emotionally intelligent child?


Hilary Smith has writing in her blood and communications on her brain. This yoga enthusiast appreciates a daily workout and loves keeping time with two children. Mother by day, writer by night, Hillary keeps abreast of the latest tech apps as she focuses on digital parenting.

Posted in Parenting | Leave a comment

Everyday Spending – Big Rewards

Thank you CreditCards.com for sponsoring this post. Visit CreditCards.com today to find the right card for you.

Everyday Spending Big Rewards
Most of us get up in the morning and start our day with a series of everyday tasks.  There are some days that I question at what point I really woke up.  Get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, wash face, shoes on and out the door.  My movements are so automated that I have certain things I stage the night before to ensure that nothing gets left behind in the morning.  If I work on my “work” laptop at night, I had better put it under under my purse when I finish.  If not, I’ll be 20 miles from home when I realize I never picked it up on my way out the door.  But picking up my purse is an unconscious, everyday thing.

Much like my purse, swiping my credit card at the gas pump, grocery store and everywhere in between has become an automatic action.  Why would it not be?  There is a huge selection of credit cards on the market that can earn you a variety of perks or rewards for buying the things you were going to buy anyway.  Who doesn’t like perks and rewards?  I’ve even started paying things like my cell phone bill with my credit cards.

I personally have two rewards credit cards and my husband has two as well. Both of his earn cash back, while I have one that earns cash back and one that earns airline miles. I use my airline rewards card for any travel related expenses we might have (it offers the most “bang for the buck” on travel expenses) and for any expenses I incur as part of running this site. The rest of our spending hits one of the cash back rewards cards we have between the two of us. Things like a meal at our favorite sushi spot earn us cash that we use toward travel, like our trips back home to North Carolina. And all of my blogging expenses earn airline miles toward plane tickets to get us there.

Traveling back home to see our family is a priority for us.  That’s our big reward for our everyday spending.  I never realized how much I needed to be close to my family until I wasn’t.  Living 700 miles away has been hard, so taking trips back to visit has become our standard form of “vacation”.  Airline travel is more expensive than it used to be, and with Detroit to Charlotte being a heavily traveled route, individual tickets often run $400 or more.  Every airline mile I earn is one step closer to my family.  Cash back rewards help subsidize hotel expenses (when I’m not invading my sister’s house), food and entertainment.

Being able to earn rewards while shopping for things like cat food, soup and salsa make getting home easier.  You would be amazed just how quickly the rewards add up when you use your rewards credit cards for everyday spending on things like groceries and gas.  If you’re not sure what kind of rewards cards there are available or which one would be best for you, check out CreditCards.com.  CreditCards.com rates and reviews credit cards to provide insightful, useful information to help you compare your options and choose the right card for you.

Cash Rewards Credit Card
The goal over at CreditCards.com is to help everyone seize greater opportunity through smarter spending.  Check out the innovative tools, experiences and advice shared at CreditCards.com and see how they can help you find the right cards and use them the right way—everyday.  How are you using your everyday spending to earn rewards?  Share your thoughts in the comments section or hit us up with your opinions on our Facebook page.

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

Posted in Life in General, Travel | 6 Comments