Create A College Care Package For The Adult Learner

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

College Care Package for Adults

Moving 600+ miles away from the only home you’ve ever know is HARD. Moving 600+ miles away to a state you’ve never stepped foot in is even harder.  I was lucky enough to have a friend living in the area we transferred to and she’s been an integral part in our house hunt, as well as helping us learn the area and find all of the resources we need to make the transition as smooth as possible. She’s scouted out properties for us while we were still living back home in North Carolina and answered all of my crazy questions.

I wanted to do something nice for her, like send her a little something to show her how much we appreciate all of the help. She’s in her 40’s and is back in college, balancing life as a college student, wife and mom. I decided to send her a little “college care package” to get her through those long studying sessions between meal prep and homework with her own kids.

College Care Kit Essentials

The most important part of putting together a care package for anyone is knowing what whey need.  I know she takes both classes online and on campus.  I know she’s conscious about snack habits.  I know she needs something to take a break with from time to time.

With all of this in mind, I headed out to do some shopping.  My first stop was Kroger, where I picked up the new Extra® 35-stick packs.  Both Extra® Gum Spearmint and Extra® Gum Polar Ice® are available in durable, recycled packaging and will survive being tossed into whatever bag she’s carrying for the day.  With more gum in each pack, she doesn’t have to worry about running out either.  I also picked up snack packs of almonds and dried apples to get her through those long study sessions.

Proper supplies are a must, so I picked up some cute file folders, sticky notes (who doesn’t need those?) highlighters and pencils.  You can never have enough highlighters or pencils.  And knowing that she needs to stay charged when on the go, I grabbed a portable power bank for her phone.  They are super convenient and I highly recommend everyone have a few.  Taking a few minutes to decompress is just as important as studying, so to encourage a little break time now and again, I picked up an adult coloring book and new pack of colored pencils for her.  I’ve had mine for a few months and love to break it out when I need to veg out for a few minutes.

Cute Storage Caddy

I didn’t want to throw all of her goodies in a box or basket, so I picked up a storage caddie instead.  It made a cute vessel for delivering my goodies and is something this can use on her desk or somewhere in her home.  I love the little compartments.  The larger compartment on the back was just what I needed for the file folders and coloring book.

Layering Items In A Care Package

We were so happy to have her help in getting acclimated to a place we didn’t know, and this care package is only a tiny way to say thank you, but I know she will appreciate it – just like we’ve appreciated all she’s done to help us.

Make a College Care Package for an Adult Learner in your life –

  1. Choose a cute, but functional vessel to deliver your goods.  Baskets are ok, but using something that can be used in a practical application later gives you more bang for your buck.
  2. Provide a mixture of snacks, utility tools (in this case, office supplies) and something recreational (like an adult coloring book).
  3. Know who you’re shopping for.  If you don’t have a good idea of what the person needs or can use, don’t be afraid to ask their family or other close friends.  The gesture of sending a care package is always nice, but it’s even nicer when the recipient needs what you’re sending.
  4. Package you loot in an appealing manner.  Layering the goodies front to back creates dimension and allows you to really see what’s in your care package.
  5. Ship it.  Even if you live close by, ship or drop off the care package without trying to meet up.  It will be a nice surprise and your friend won’t feel pressured to add another appointment to their already too busy schedule.

Extra at Kroger

New Extra® 35-stick packs are easy to find in the check out aisle at your local Kroger.

Who could you show a little love with a care package?  If someone was making a care package for you, what would it include?  Tell us in the comments!

Posted in Life in General | 1 Comment

Back Among The Working

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My feet are killing me.  After a hiatus, I am back among the working.  I got my first real job when I was 15, and with the exception of thirteen month break after having my son, I have always worked.  Even then, the break after my son wasn’t intentional. The company I was working for was going out of business. I spent most of those 13 months trying to find a job.

Finding a job was HARD.  It took 5 weeks of spending hours every day looking at postings, submitting applications, phone calls, proficiency tests… I understand how people can get stuck in jobs they hate and have little hope of moving onward and upward.  If you ask people hiring, they will tell you there’s a lack of qualified candidates. Ask someone who’s looking, they will tell you there’s a lack of decent paying jobs.

New jobs mean new experiences, and while I’ve held a “professional” position over the last 15 years, I’ve worked for companies in the construction or home building industries and jeans and tennis shoes/sandals in the office were the norm. My new job?  Not so much. I’m relegated to slacks, dressy tops and shoes that my feet weep about. Being on the short side, slacks require heels (or alteration and I don’t have the time or money for that).  What once were “night out” shoes are now 10 hour day shoes and my feet are weeping. My wallet is too. Going from a wardrobe of jeans and tshirts to office attire is financially exhausting.

So, my feet hurt and I’ve already spent my first paycheck before I’ve even got it.  That’s my life update for the moment.

For those working in business attire, where are you finding reasonably priced clothes and shoes?  I need help!

 

 

Posted in Life in General | 1 Comment

Visit Detroit: Morley Chocolate Factory

Morley Chocolate Factory Detroit MichiganMoving to the Detroit area means I have a world of new, fun, exciting places to visit.  I told you earlier this week that we visited 10 states, two zoos, a chocolate factory and so much more over Spring Break and today I’m sharing our trip to Morley Chocolate Factory.  I spotted Morley on our way to dinner with a friend shortly after moving to the area.  Of course, I asked her about the place and she said it was a “must see”.  Some quick research online gave me all the answers I needed, so I called and booked a tour.  Tours are FREE, but times vary depending on the factory schedule, so you do need to call ahead.

Morley Chocolate Factory with the Kids

The tour starts with an approximately 15 minute video presentation.  While this is not always something my kids (especially the boy) enjoy, we were all mesmerized by the story of chocolate.  I learned lots of things even I didn’t know about chocolate.  For example, did you know that cacao beans were fermented before they are dried (and subsequently turned into chocolate)?  Kinda of like grapes on their way to become wine.  The fermentation is a key part of the process.  I had no idea.  We also learned a lot about how cacao farms operate (no big machinery here – it’s a “by-hand” process) and how they impact their local economy.

Sanders Ice Cream

We also learned about how Morley Chocolate and Sanders Candy Company both started and how they eventually became one.  Both companies have a rich history and it was interesting to see how well they have merged two brands into one.  We also got to eat chocolates.  Fresh ones.  They were pretty darn amazing.

After the video and chocolate tasting, we headed out into the observation hallway.  Unfortunately, I can’t share pictures of what we say there.  Photos and videos are a no-no, so you’ll just have to go see it yourself.  I can tell you about what we saw though.  I’ve been inside of a food production plant before, so I had a good idea what to expect.  It’s a lot like the old episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy works in the candy factory.  We say some HUGE bricks of caramel (fifty pounds each!), all of machinery to make the caramel, keep the chocolate flowing warm and to cool and package the candies.  The candies we actually watched the process for where Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels.  I have always loved them and now I appreciate them even more!

Candy Store at Morley Chocolate Factory

We learned about the quality inspection process, what happens to the candies that don’t fit the bill and all about where the machinery used in the factory comes from and Sander’s/Morley’s commitment to the local economy and buying both machinery and raw materials not only in the USA, but from Michigan when possible.  Of course, we got to eat more chocolate too.

What candy factory would be complete without a candy store?  None.  Morley has a HUGE retail store, full of all kinds of candy goodness.  They also have ice cream and ice cream toppings, cakes, and other non-chocolate goodies that Morley and Sanders create.  The kids were like bees trapped in a jar!  They were buzzing from spot to spot so fast that I couldn’t keep up with them.  When we visited, all Easter merchandise was 50% off, so they both landed solid chocolate bunnies among their haul.  I was intrigued by the giant, and I mean three feet tall, chocolate bunny.  I wanted to bring him home just because of his awesomeness, but I also knew I’d want to eat him and that would be bad for my hips, waist and pretty much every other body part.

Morley Chocolate Factory Candy Store

I’ll be adding posts about fun Detroit spots soon, but if you head this way, be sure to stop and check out Morley Chocolate Factory and buy ALL.THE.CHOCOLATE.

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Kicking Off The Day With Breakfast

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Jimmy Dean through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Jimmy Dean Delights, all opinions are my own.

Jimmy Dean Delights Breakfast Sandwiches

My days go one of two ways: Normal Crazy or Insanely Crazy.  Normal Crazy would be the “get everybody out the door” kind of morning.  Insanely Crazy would be the “get everybody out the door while simultaneously scheduling real estate agents, movers, inspections and fielding calls from work” kind of morning.  Lately, more of my days have fallen into the second category.

I don’t know about you, but when my morning is slow to start or just doesn’t go as planned, it can make the whole day seem like it’s going downhill.  When I get up and moving for the day, there are three things that have to happen for me to have a good morning.  First, I have to walk the dog.  Seriously.  Before I do anything else, I take him out to do his business.  If I don’t, he will be underfoot worse than a toddler.  Second, I have to brush my teeth.  Maybe it’s silly, but I just can’t seem to wake up and move in a forward direction with my mouth full of morning breath.  Third, I have to eat breakfast.  It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, but it does need to be something made with real ingredients.  I need something nutritious and filling in my stomach to help me power through the morning.

Jimmy Dean Delights for Breakfast

I’ve often talked about the importance of protein at breakfast.  Protein helps fill you up and give you the energy you need throughout the day.  Jimmy Dean Delights are an excellent source of protein, making it possible to enjoy a wholesome breakfast any day of the week.  With crazy mornings like mine, morning sometimes runs into lunch.  After a filling, protein packed breakfast, I know that I won’t have to worry about pushing lunch back a bit if I need to finish up a project or run out for a real estate showing.

To show America where these real whole grains are grown, Jimmy Dean had a real mom and a real farmer swap mornings. How cool would it have been to be her?  This mom experiences a morning on the farm while the farmer got to see how his hard work helps power moms’ mornings.  Check out the video and see what the experience was like for each of them.

Jimmy Dean Delights are made with real ingredients like whole eggs, lean meat and real vegetables, providing families with a delicious, wholesome breakfast option to start the day off right.  I love that they are ready from the microwave in just two minutes.  That’s less time than it takes to run through a drive-thru and you don’t have to guess what’s been used to make your breakfast sandwich!  The croissant was light and fluffy, the sausage was flavorful and the egg was cooked perfectly.  

Jimmy Dean Collage

Jimmy Dean Delights are a quick and easy great-tasting breakfast that I can enjoy at home or on the go, and “on the go” happens a lot.  How do you manage getting the wholesome breakfast you need while living a life “on the go”?

 

Posted in Food, Reviews | 1 Comment

No Bake Banana Glazed Peanut Butter Cookies

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

Banana Glazed Peanut Butter Cookies

The last week has been full of Spring break fun!  We’ve visited 10 states, two zoos, a chocolate factory and so much more (we’ll share more of our adventures later this week) but one of the things we did that the kids enjoyed the most was making cookies.  My daughter is getting older and really starting to take an interest in cooking and it’s definitely something I want to foster, so when she asked if we could make cookies last week, how could I say no?

We rolled out to Walmart to pick up some ingredients.  We decided to try a new twist on a classic cookie, a no-bake peanut butter oatmeal cookie, and spice it up with a new product Walmart is carrying called Sir Bananas™ Bananamilk.  Sir Bananas™ Bananamilk has all of the goodness of milk with the delicious flavor of bananas.  It’s full of calcium, protein an potassium and since peanut butter and bananas are a pair made in Heaven, how could we go wrong?  

Make Cookies

Believe it or not, the only added sugar in this recipe is in glaze.  The cookies themselves are sweetened with honey, making them a treat you can feel good about enjoying from time to time, and they pair perfectly with the creamy goodness of Sir Bananas™ Bananamilk.  The honey does makes them a bit sticky to work with, so have your hand washing station ready!  You’ll want warm water and a good soap to clean yourself up with after forming your cookies.  

Make Cookie Glaze

You can add as little or as much glaze as you like, but I recommend going light and enjoying a glass of protein packed Sir Bananas™ Bananamilk with your cookies.  The Bananamilk is so flavorful that the glaze carries an amazing banana flavor and a little goes a long way!

Kid Eating Cookie

No Bake Banana Glazed Peanut Butter Cookies

No Bake Banana Glazed Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Sir Bananas™ Bananamilk – 2% milk with Bananas

Instructions

  1. Combine the oats, peanut butter and honey in a bowl, Mix well.
  2. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll it into a ball.
  3. Place the ball on a non-stick baking mat or wax paper covered cutting board or plate.
  4. Using the back of a spoon, flatten the ball into a round cookie.
  5. Repeat with remaining oat mixture.
  6. In another bowl, combine the powdered sugar and Sir Bananas™ Bananamilk – 2% milk with Bananas, adding 2 tablespoons of the Bananamilk at a time, until the glaze (icing) is your desired thickness.
  7. Drizzle glaze over the flattened cookies.
  8. Place cookies in the freezer for 1 hour or until set.
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You can find Sir Bananas™ Bananamilk – 2% milk with Bananas and Chocolate Bananamilk – 2% milk with Bananas & Chocolate at your local Walmart.  It’s rich, creamy and full of 8 essential nutrients!  My kids loved drinking it alone, using it in their cereal and enjoying it in our cookie recipe.  With no artificial flavors or colors, I can feel good about letting them enjoy it any way they like!  

Find Sir Bananas at Walmart

Posted in Recipes | 1 Comment

Upcycled Nightlight Vase

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

Upcycled Nightlight Vase

We’re on week three living in a hotel and I’m starting to miss the comforts of home.  It’s the silly little things you start to miss the most, like a having a full-sized dining room table (that no one ever sat at anyway) and nightlights around the house.  I’ve more than once knocked into our dresser trying to make my way to the bathroom here in the middle of the night and I’ve got more than enough bruises to prove it.  I miss my crafting supplies too, all packed up waiting on movers later this week.

After finishing off a bottle of Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea Rooibos earlier this week, I was noticing how awesome the sleek new packaging was, and I decided I could do something about at least one of my problems.  I’ve wanted to work with LED light strands for a while, but didn’t really know what to do with them before now.  Making a nightlight seemed like a reasonable task.  As it turns out, it was quite simple and only cost me a few bucks.  As a bonus, it gives me a nice little touch of spring and adds a homey feel to our not-so-homey hotel room.

Upcycled-Bottle-Craft-Supplies-Registered

A few things you’ll need:

  • An Empty Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea Bottle – You can pick up Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea, including the new Sorta Sweet Honey Green Tea and Rooibos limited time varieties, at your local Walmart for only $1! (They are all amazing)
  • An LED Light Strand – You can order these online.
  • Raffia Grass or Ribbon – You can use either, or whatever material you want for decorating the bottle.  I just like the “natural” look of the raffia grass.
  • Floral Stems – You could use fresh flowers, BUT you can’t put water in the vase because of the LED lights, so artificial is really the way to go.

How to make an upcycled nightlight vase #TeaStraightUp #Ad

Once you have completed the first four steps, all that’s left to do is decorate.  I simply wrapped a little more raffia grass around the top of my nightlight vase, then secured it with a tight knot, leaving the ends hanging.  I also wrapped a little raffia grass around the bottom, just loosely.  Add floral stems of your choosing, and you’re done!

A few tips… 

  1. When feeding the LED lights into the bottle, you may need to use the handle of a cooking spoon to help work the light strand down into the bottle.  The copper wire gets a little bendy and might need some help.  Do not use anything sharp or you may cut the copper wire.
  2. When shaving off pieces of the floral foam, work over a sink or an area covered with paper towels.  The shaved foam gets a little messy and working over the sink or a paper towel covered area will make cleanup a breeze!
  3. When working with the raffia grass, you can use a hot glue gun to secure the grass rather than knotting it.  I don’t have my hot glue gun handy (it’s packed) and knotting works just fine.

Plastic Bottle As Vase

My afternoons are filled with job hunting, house hunting and errands.  Like lots of adults, I’m always in need of a little “pick me up” to boost my mood and help me make it through the rest of the day.  Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea gives me just that, a little boost, and a little reminder of the sweet tea back home in NC to put a smile on my face for the rest of the afternoon.  At my desk or on the go, I can enjoy it no matter what’s on my agenda.

Snapple® Straight Up™ Tea also comes in the following, equally delicious varieties:

  • Sorta Sweet Honey Green Tea
  • Rooibos
  • Unsweetened
  • Sorta Sweet
  • Sweet

Snapple Sorta Sweet Straight Up Tea

 

Posted in Crafts, Reviews | 4 Comments

30 Days To Healthier Habits

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

Nature Made Stress Complex

Moving to Michigan has meant lots of changes for me.  I’m missing my friends, my family and the sun.  I’m not sure which I miss more!  Our first week here was full of gray skies and snow, this week has been filled with gray skies and rain.  The sun, he’s been a sneaky little bugger, only popping out once in a while.

I’ve never really committed to taking daily vitamins, mostly because my life has always been so busy that they were an after thought.  At the same time, I’ve never really had a reason to need daily vitamins either.  At least I never thought I had.  I’ve been tired, stressed and not eating as many healthy meals as I should be lately, and I can feel it.  I’m near constantly batting some germ or drippy nose and it’s getting old, quick.

When the change to work with Nature Made and Healthy Habit challenge came up, I knew this was the perfect time to take the plunge.  You can visit NatureMade.com/Challenge and join the Nature Made® Healthy Habit Builder program too.  You’ll find motivation and tips around your specific health goals (like my goal to have more energy).  As a bonus, you’ll be automatically entered to win a grand prize of $5,000*. (See blow for details.)  The program includes weekly challenges with a chance to win some great prizes!  It’s never too late to start a healthy habit.

Nature Made Vitamins

I knew going in that Vitamin D is vital to bone and muscle health.  Most people get their Vitamin D from  healthy foods (like fish and milk) and at least some of their Vitamin D from the sun (your body produces Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun.)  THe sun has been taken out of the equation for me, and sadly, living in a hotel room with a two burner stove has tanked the healthy cooking I like to do.  I needed to start taking a Vitamin D supplement, and I needed to do it now.  I’m also going to make an effort to get out and get what sun whenever it decides to light up the sky, even if it means just sitting outside for my lunch.  Every little bit counts.

If you’ve been following my posts over the last two weeks, you know that my stress level is out the roof.  I saw the Vitamin B Stress Complex and immediately snatched it up.  It’s combination of Vitamins B, C and Zinc are supposed to help boost my immune system (definitely needed) and help with energy production.  I’ve only been taking them a few days, so no real update yet, but I will be sure to post on FB and Twitter and let you guys know how they’re working.  I’m trying to limit my stress too (stress is an immune system killer!) but there’s only so much I can do.  Learning to accept things I can’t control, like the housing market, will always be a battle for me.

Visit and sign up for the Nature Made Daily Boost program for inspiration and information to further your health goals and to get a sneak peek at what other Nature Made fans are doing to stay healthy.  It might just be the boost you need to get started on your own healthy habits!  I am a firm believer in joining communities of other people working toward the same goals you are and how vital those communities are to succeeding in your goals.
Nature Made Vitamin DisplayI purchased my Nature Made vitamins at Walmart.  Walmart has a HUGE selection of Nature Made products in the Health section near the pharmacy.  They are super organized and it’s very easy to find exactly what you need.  To make your shopping trip even easier, you can enter to win one of twenty (20) $50 gift cards to Walmart through our partner, Influence Central.  Entry is simple, just see below!  *I-C will randomly select 20 winners from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes.

Nature Made Wellness 4

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES (D.C) 18 YEARS AND OLDER.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Enter by 3/31/16. Internet access required. 1 Grand Registration Prize (actual value $5,000) and 30 Challenge Prizes (each actual value $250) available to be won. For Official Rules, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, visit HealthyHabitBuilder.com. Sponsor: Pharmavite LLC, 8510 Balboa Blvd. Suite 100, Northridge, CA 91325.

Posted in Health/Wellness | Leave a comment

5 Tips For Job Searching Success

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

5 Tips Fr Job Searching Success

Moving to a new city has presented us with many obstacles, not the least of which has been finding myself a new job.  While house hunting has proven to have it’s challenges, it’s been nothing compared to having myself flung into a new city, a city filled with strangers.  Networking has always proven to be solid route for moving from one company to another, at least for me, but my networking isn’t working for me 600 miles from my old home.  I’ve talked to friends, former co-workers and even friends of theirs to put together a solid list of tips to help me (and you) find a job is today’s tough job market.

1. Devote time every day to looking for a job.

Prepare yourself.  For most people, job hunting isn’t easy and landing the perfect job (or any job for that matter) doesn’t happen over night.  I’ve spent much of the last two weeks online.  Job posting boards, company websites, LinkedIn.  If I’m not searching from my computer, I’m searching from my new Samsung Galaxy Core Prime and I am racking up the data usage for sure!  It’s been tiresome and grueling, but something I devote time to every day.

2. Search in all the right places.

Many people hit up one of the popular job hunting sites and stop there.  If you do this, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Hit up the online job boards, and don’t forget LinkedIn, but sometimes going straight to the source is the answer too.  Many large corporations get so many applications and have so many people wanting to work for them that they don’t waste time with job boards.  The only places they are posting their jobs are on their own websites.  Take the time to drive the areas you’d like to work in, make note of company names and search out their sites and career opportunities with those companies directly.

Searching for Jobs Online

3. Be available.

If a potential employer call or email, you don’t want to miss it.  Living in a hotel has had it’s challenges, two of which have been the wifi and my cellular coverage.  After much frustration with poor and lost connections, I was forced to put my online search in the hands of my wireless provider.  Data, data, data and not the best coverage for this area, you could say I had not been very impressed with my former wireless carrier.  After two dropped calls from potential employers last week and numerous timed out online applications, I headed to Walmart to check out Walmart Family Mobile and see what my options are.  I chose the Walmart Family Mobile PLUS plan because it features Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data (which includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE data) PLUS a free movie on VUDU ($7 value) every month per line for $49.88.  I can now happily say that I can not only answer my phone inside my hotel room when it rings, but also don’t have to worry about dropping the call.  As a bonus, I also get to watch a free movie every month on my laptop!

Company Research

4. Know where you’re going.

When you get the call to go on an interview, write down the contents of the conversation as it’s happening.  Get the name of the company, the name of the person you’re talking to on the phone, the name of the person you’re interviewing with, etc.  The first thing you should do when you hang up the phone is start researching the company.  If you’re able to get the name of the person you’re interviewing with, research them too.  Know what you’re walking into before you show up on a potential employer’s doorstep.  It helps you look polished, professional and intelligent.  It also shows you’re savvy enough to do your research.  LinkedIn is a great resource for checking out potential employers (there’s even an app!)

5. Don’t stop looking.

That might sound a little silly, but as humans we have a tendency to get complacent or give ourselves ‘breaks”.  Until you’re working at a new job, you shouldn’t feel so secure as to stop looking.  Yeah, you might have had a few great interviews, but other candidates may have interviewed well too.  Don’t risk missing out on “the one” by taking a break from looking.  Seriously.  Monday – Friday, finding a job IS your job.  Unlimited data with my new Walmart Family Mobile Plus plan and the ability to use my phone as a wifi hotspot leave me with no excuse not to look at the new postings or check out more company websites directly everyday.

Walmart Family Mobile Activation

You can find all the details on Walmart Family Mobile Plus and all of the other Walmart Family Mobile Plans at your local store.  Getting started is as easy as picking out a phone, grabbing a $25 Starter Kit (contains the SIM card needed to activate your phone) and signing up online.  No credit check required!  I used part of my tax refund to maximize my data (I certainly need all I can get right now) and pick up a new Samsung Galaxy Core Prime for $79.92 (Rollback priced from $99.92 – a screaming deal for a new phone!)

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to  http://cbi.as/2n6q6 or your local Walmart for current pricing. 

Walmart Family Mobile Display

Posted in Life in General, Reviews | 7 Comments

House Hunting Tips and Tricks – The First Steps

Tips and Tricks For House Hunting

House hunting is a grueling task.  Some people may disagree, but I would venture to say that most of those people where probably hunting out of desire, not out of need.  Being in the position of “needing” to find a new house verses “wanting” to find a new house can and will change a lot of the emotions that come along with the hunt.  Either way, I have some experience in this arena – personally and professionally – and want to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years and maybe ease your mind about a few things that people worry about that they really shouldn’t.

Pole Barn or Out Building

First and foremost, get yourself a real estate agent.  In most transactions, the seller is paying the same commission rate whether their buyer comes to the closing table with an agent or not (there are a few situations where a buyer might have to pay their agent, but they are rare).  A real estate agent should be well versed in the area you’re buying, the conditions of the market in that area, how homes are priced in that area and can do research for you on properties that fit your needs, as well as the details of those properties.  My agent, yes I have an agent, is currently looking into the possibility of a property we like needing flood insurance.

**If you plan to work with an agent, get that locked down before you even start looking.  Additionally, while you are working with an agent, you should never communicate directly with the seller or seller’s agent on any properties.  All communication should happen through your agent.

Before you start looking at properties, talk to a lender and set a budget.  What you qualify for loan-wise and what you want to spend may not be the same thing.  It’s always a good idea to know your limitations.   After you know what price range you want/need to be in, make a list of what you need and what you want in a house.  And yes, needs and wants aren’t the same thing.  We NEED 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.  I WANT 4 bedrooms (or 3 with an office) and 2 bathrooms.  It’s important to distinguish between needs and wants because you will often be hard pressed to find everything you want and maintain a budget.  Keep this in mind as you are looking at houses.  You may have to make compromises to get all of your NEEDS met, including staying in budget.

Before you schedule showings on properties you might find appealing online (either through information your agent has provided you or Realtor.com), do a drive by.  I recommend this for 2 reasons.  First, it gives you a chance to see the area the home is in and second, it gives you a chance to get a better idea of the property itself than the pictures online do alone.  You may find that quite a few of the homes you like online either don’t measure up to the photos online or the areas aren’t what you expect them to be.  You may also find that the traffic on the drive puts you further away than you want to be from work, etc.

**You should not stop at the properties, pull into the drives or otherwise access the properties in any manner at this point.  That could be considered trespassing.  This is simply a drive by the property location for a visual from the street of the area and the home itself.

House Hunting Driving By

If you find that the location is good and the neighborhood meets your expectations, then contact your agent to schedule a showing.  A few tips/tricks for your showings:

Wear Slip On/Off shoes – Treat the home like it was your own.  You wouldn’t want people dirtying up your carpet, and neither do sellers.  Put on some nice socks and be ready to kick your shoes off when you walk through the door.

Bring along a notepad, pencil/pen, tape measure and a flashlight.  You may have concerns about how furniture will fit and need to measure a room, want to make notes about the house in general (especially if you’re looking at several properties) and you should always check crawl spaces and attics where they exist.  Sometimes those are particularly dark areas and having a flashlight handy is a HUGE help.

Don’t load up on coffee or soda before going to a showing.  I hate to sound like a mom, but use the bathroom before you get in the care to head out.  You don’t want to be using a stranger’s bathroom if you can avoid it and vacant homes may not have toilet paper or may have had the water shut off.  That’s not a position you want to put yourself in if you can avoid it.

House Hunting in the Snow

I’ve got you to the house…now what?  Check back for part 2 in a few days – more tips & tricks,  what to look for when your viewing the properties, what to do when you fall in love with one and more.

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Living in a Hotel – First Week Update and the Sleep Dilemma

My Nemesis

A week into life in a hotel and I am so over it.  I miss my bed.  My nice soft, pillow top mattress is crying for me.  Really, it’s me that’s crying.  That bed up there, it’s my nemesis.  It’s the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker.  I want to take a light saber to it.  Truly.  More on that later…

In the last week, I have made dinner in my tiny kitchen exactly twice.  We’ve had leftovers from those dinners, and had sandwiches a few nights.  We’ve eaten out twice too.  All of my pots, pans and cooking utensils are still in NC waiting on the movers to pack them up, so I was working with one deep saute pan with a lid and a spatula.  I broke down and hit up the kitchen store in Great Lakes Crossing Friday night to grab a cheap, but decent, knife and a cutting board.  Last week’s onion chopping on wax paper with a steak knife drove me to it.

Michgan More Snow

With near constant snow last week, I was more of less confined to two things last week.  1 – Sit inside my 600 sq ft prison and job hunt or 2 – Go house hunting.  I spent a lot of time last week being disappointed by the current home selection in our price range and to add to it, the job hunt isn’t progressing much either.   Disappointment coupled with lack of sleep doesn’t suit me well.  See how unimpressed I look with the snow?  And I love snow!

Sleep has by far been my biggest hurdle to living in a hotel.  Between the harder than I’m used to mattress, the other patrons (who seemingly have no concept of a normal sleep schedule or being courteous to the other patrons, and the stress of everything going on, I feel like I belong on the set for The Walking Dead as a zombie extra.  Relief was a must and it was supplied when a package showed up from Natrol.

Natrol

The package was a welcomed surprise.  Both of my kids took Melatonin when they were toddlers (on into early elementary years) so I know how wonderful it can be to help with sleep problems.  Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve is a drug-free sleep aid that promotes healthy sleep patterns and a more relaxed night’s sleep.  You can take them anywhere – you don’t even need water.  You can grab a $2 coupon here.

Michigan Country Roads

Starting week two, I am finally getting a little sleep!  The house hunt had started looking up, but we just got word this morning that the 1 and only house we found that we both loved, walked yesterday and just needed a little more info on, had a contract come in on it yesterday afternoon.  I am learning a lot about the different areas outside of Detroit in all of my driving though (the area in the photo above is Brandon, Michigan) and trying to be patient in our search.  But, I will say this, everything looks a little brighter after a good night’s sleep.  Hopefully we’ll wake up to great news or an amazing new listing in the morning.

Coming up on the site later this week, I’ll have some house hunting tips for you I’ve learned through the years (I’m a licensed Broker) and a list of things that matter and things that people think matter and really don’t!

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