Friday, June 14, 2019

Summer Reading List: Percy Jackson & The Olympians



In our monthly Book Club we chat about how much we love reading, but our kids...not so much. Sometimes if they find a book or a series that they love they will be into it, but most times they aren't.  Which is crazy to us because it's one of our favorite ways to relax or pass time. I mean, we understand reading has to compete with watching Ninja on YouTube or Ryan open yet another toy, but we still would love for them to sit down to read without having to be bribed. 

Last year we shared a list of suggestions on books to keep boys interested in reading.  The suggestions people sent us were super helpful, and in all honesty helped us get through our school year reading. But now it's Summer and we know our reading game has to be upped a little bit. We made it our goal to find a book (or book series) that would excite all of our elementary and middle schoolers. 


We were approached about reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, and thought it might actually do the trick. We read the storyline and realized it would be a series that would interest all of our young readers. 


We started reading first book in the series,  The Lightning Thief, a few weeks ago to kick off Summer, and they have loved it! Some of younger ones are listening to it on Audible (which if you haven't downloaded for kids yet - do so! The first two listens are free!), some are reading the books to us, and some are reading on their own.  All of them agree - it's a great book! 


We're chatting more about this and our plans for Summer Reading with the kids on Savvy Sassy Moms. We're also helping them give away one whole set to anyone who wants read along with us this summer. Pop over to check out the post and the details on how you can enter to win. 

What tops your kid's reading list this Summer? 



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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Summer Home Refresh with Old Time Pottery {Giveaway!}

A big thank you to Old Time Pottery for sponsoring this post.  All thoughts, ideas and and opinions are our own. 

We have some friends coming in town this weekend to stay with us before we all head on vacation together.  I've been wanting to do a little guest room refresh for a while now, but it's always one of those rooms that never makes it to the top of the list. When Old Time Pottery asked if we wanted to do a summer home refresh I jumped at the chance and knew just what room I wanted to focus on.  



One thing on the top of my list for our guest room was to find new lamps.  The lamps I had in there were about 12 years old and used to be in our living room. When we moved to our new house I stuck them in that guest bedroom, but never really loved them in there.  They were really dark, a little more formal, and just not my style anymore.  Last week I checked out what Old Time Pottery had and was SO impressed with their lamp selection. 



They had a lot of really stylish options and I actually had a hard time narrowing down the ones I wanted.  I also grabbed some new pillows, some greenery and something new for the wall over the bed.  I couldn't wait to get home and put it all together. 



I love how just these few items really changed the entire look of the room and made it feel more put together.  The lamps really brighten up the room and the new wall art is so pretty!  I love a mix of metal and wood. 





Switching out pillows is always one of my favorite ways to refresh a room and I love these pretty blue ones.  


For just about $100 I was able to give this guest bedroom a refresh and feel like it's ready to make our guests feel welcome and comfortable! 



Do you have a room in your house you'd like to do a little refresh on?  You are in luck because our friends at Old Time Pottery said we could give away a $100 gift card to one of you!  To enter, just leave us a comment below telling us what room in your home you'd like to refresh! For additional entries, head to our Facebook page and Instagram later today. Winner will be announced on Friday, June 14th! 

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Make Life Sweet with OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate King Size Bars {Giveaway!}

This post was sponsored by OREO as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.


Do you have a special mommy treat you look forward to daily? Once a week? On occasion? We have a have a few. We love to take a break with a good book (or listen these days). We savor those mani/pedis we schedule monthly. And of course there's that special "mommy juice" we all tend to indulge in when we have to do things like algebra homework, a week's worth of smelly soccer laundry, or just need to unwind with after an afternoon playing mom-taxi across the state. Our newest favorite treat are these OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate King Size Bars we found at Walmart.


As if OREOs needed to get any better.

Milka white chocolate anything is our weakness. Add in OREO cookies pieces to the mix, and we've just found our new favorite "hide in the back of the pantry behind the vegetables so the kids don't get it" snack. So. Much. Yum.

These OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate King Size Bars are new and can be found in the candy section of the checkout lanes. They are large enough to eat one now and save one for later, or to share - if you're into that kind of thing.

Now we might not be into sharing our own. But, we are into sharing with our mom friends or anyone who might need a little pick me up. We loved this new OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate Bar so much that we couldn't resist having a little fun with it and giving a few people a little new addiction surprise treat to enjoy.


Motherhood can be rewarding, fulfilling, tiring, stressful, funny, and chaotic all rolled into one. We're sure that there are many more adjectives that can be used to describe it, but you get the basic idea - motherhood wears a lot of hats, and comes with a lot of emotions.

We are so lucky that we have found a great circle of fellow moms along that help encourage and lift us up when we we need it the most. We always chat about how isolating motherhood can be sometimes and how often we worry if we are doing a great job. The answer is YES! Yes, we are all doing a great job - but it doesn't always feel that way. So we love being able to find little ways to remind the moms around us just how special they are.


When we were chatting about the goodness that is the OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate Bars, we came up with this fun idea to leave little treat surprises to other moms. Something super yummy with words of encouragements to help bring a little smile to their face.


We left our OREO surprises on friends door steps, on random mother's cars that we saw in parking lots, and - at the time - our children's teacher's desks. We taking part in random acts of kindness like these, and what easier way to do that than with a quick, yummy, ready-to-go treat? 

Putting together these OREO treats was super easy. And we've made it even easier for you to spread a little snack time love yourself! 


Here are the downloads to printables we created. Just print them off, grab some OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate King Size Bars from Walmart, add a little ribbon and done! 




MAKE LIFE EVEN SWEETER - WIN! 

We love these OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate King Size Bars that we found at Walmart so much that we are teaming up with a few other fabulous bloggers and Influence Central to let you know about an awesome giveaway! Enter below for the chance to win one of six $50 gift cards to Walmart or one $200 Gift Card to Walmart. The giveaway only runs until June 16th so be sure to enter soon! 


I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the 7 winning prizes. 



Now...
Who will you share your yummy OREO Cookies & Crème Chocolate King Size Bars with? 



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Friday, June 7, 2019

Quick & Easy Father's Day Gift Idea


June is filled with so many fun events - graduations, weddings, showers, birthday parties, and Father's Day. Sometimes it's tough to be creative and think of the perfect gift when there are so many events with in a small period of time. I'm often guilty of stressing over trying to find that "wow" gift for each and every occasion, especially when it comes to dads and grads.

Dads are especially hard for me. My dad and husband are some of the hardest people to shop for no matter what the occasion. They are the type of people that if they need or want something throughout the year, they just buy it for themselves. I try to keep a running list of things they mention in passing on my phone, but sadly it always gets dwindled down to nothing by the time an event rolls around. 

I mean, I totally appreciate their proactive ability to get stuff done...but it makes a little tough for the gift givers in the group. 

But not this year! 

This year I've stumbled upon the easiest stress-free gifting idea that makes everyone happy. It's even in the name - Happy Cards


We were introduced to Happy Cards last year, and when I was shopping for graduation gifts I remembered how fun and easy they were to gift. Happy Cards are themed gift cards with more than one retailer attached to them - so the gift receiver can chose where they want to purchase their gift from. It can be one of of the retailers or multiple retailers. There is literally a Happy Card for every type of occasion and every type of interest. 

I need to start remember to gift them more. Every time we've gifted a Happy Card the receiver raves about how easy it is to use.  



And it was even easier to plan for this year's round of graduations and dad gift ideas because I realized I could order and send them straight to my home (or the gift receiver's home) from GiftCards.com. With just a click of a button and a few days wait time the gift was on our doorsteps. So so easy! 

I ordered a variety of Happy Cards for each event. For the Grads I chose Happy Student, Happy Teen, or Happy Moments cards. For the Dads I purchased a mixture of Happy Guy, Happy Moments, and Happy Dining cards. 

The hardest part in the whole process was getting the kids to sit down and sign the cards. If that's the most stressful part of gifting, I call that a win! 


Hopefully this helps if you need a quick and easy gift idea for the grads and dads in your life! Do you have an easy go-to gift idea? Share with us! We are always looking for great ideas, and you never know who you might be helping out! 



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**This post was sponsored by GiftCards.com via the ShoppingLinks network. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 
  

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Book Club: June

We can't believe it is already June!!!  We're hoping time slows down because we don't want summer to pass us by too quickly.  We love, love, love reading in the summer.  By the pool, at the beach, on the boat...so many great opportunities to do what we love.


We have some great books on tap for June, but first let's take a look at what we read last month!


Book Club May 2019: book reviews and suggestions

WHAT WE READ...


CARRIE BETH
Last month was crazy!!! Every year when May comes around I always say the same thing.  I only got to listen to one book last month, but it was a really long one so that is part of the reason.


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah had great reviews and was a New York Times Best Seller, but I wasn't sure if I would really enjoy it.  I had been eyeing it for a while so decided to just go for it.  It's about a family living in the 70's who left everything they knew behind to move to Alaska.  They had no knowledge of what to expect, no preparations made for the harsh wilderness and weather conditions and really didn't know what they were getting themselves into.  It follows the daughter and   the hardships her family endures.  The father is abusive and mentally unstable, the mother does everything to protect her daughter, and they all learn to love Alaska and the way of life there.

I had mixed feelings about this book.  It focused on love, friendships, family and hardships. Nothing was easy for them and there were parts that were a little disturbing.  Other times I loved the characters and found myself cheering for them.  It was eye opening to learn about the way of life in Alaska during that time and just how hard day-to-day life could be there.   This book was certainly more thought-provoking than some of my normal go-to choices, but I did enjoy it. 


JEN
May was a crazy month. How I was able to read four books is beyond me. But I'm not complaining. Three of the four were so good! And I have a stack of awesome beach reads ready to go because SUMMER!


I started Not That I Could Tell in April, but didn't get the chance to finish it until May. It was so good! The story follows a group of close women neighbors. One night the neighbors meet for wine around the fire pit where their back yards meet. (Side note: These are my kind of neighbors!) The next morning they wake up and realize one of the group is missing. Her small children as well. No one knows what has happened, and the more details that come out the neighbors begin to question how well they really knew each other in the first place. 

There are so many twists and turns in this book. It kept me wanting more, and the end has a big twist that I loved! It reads more of a mystery than a psychological thriller to me so if that's your jam I highly recommend this one.  


Next up The Mister by EL James. Yes that EL James. The author of the Fifty Shades series. A friend told me she had a new book out and that she enjoyed it. I grabbed her copy when she was done, and after the first few paragraphs had to take a second to flip through what I was reading. Okay, obviously I kind of knew what I was getting into, but I had figured Mrs. James would have upped her writing skills after such a huge hit. A ten plus year hiatus seems like a long time to conjure up the perfect story. 

But she came up with The Mister. This seemed like a huge slip backwards. In a ton of ways. Basically a rich royal bad boy is living the crazy life until he meets...his maid. His maid who barely speaks English. She's in trouble and he wants to save her. She's also a virgin. 

There's some piano playing. A bad guy. Another bad guy. A lots of rated R time. Top it off with an unbelievable ending and you're left wondering what you really just read. 

Moving on...


After that last book it could only go up. And up it did. My Kindle suggested The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. I read the synopsis and and it sounded cute. Olive is an identical twin and the maid of honor in her sisters wedding. After and unfortunate incident at the wedding she find herself going on her sister's honeymoon to Hawaii with her nemesis - her brother in law. They've had a hate-hate relationship for years and no find themselves on their siblings honeymoon together. But then they realize do they really hate each other as much as they think they do? 

The Unhoneymooners was so cute, and the banter between the characters had me laughing out loud several times. There are some rated R parts, but overall such a fun story. It would make for a perfect vacation/beach read if you need one. And now I'm excited to check out more novels from Christina Lauren. Based on reviews the duo seems to knock it out of the park a lot.  



Last up for the month was It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell. I listened to this one on Audible and the narrator did such a good job with all of the characters. It's Always the Husband is a mystery that follows three college roommates. One of them dies in a tragic way, and as details comes forward you realize any number of people could have done it. Especially those closest to her. This is one of those few books that you really don't like any of the characters. They all have some sort of flaw that would make you never like them in real life. There were several times that I thought I knew who did it and then new twist would occur and I would completely change my mind. The very end is surprising and it all comes together, but you still don't walk away liking anyone. It's well written and I loved listening to it. Definitely recommend if you like a good mystery.


WHAT'S UP NEXT...


CARRIE BETH
It's summer and that can only mean one thing...I have time to actually read a real book!  It feels like forever since I've held a book and turned the pages.  I love reading by the pool, at the beach, and at the lake so hoping to get lots of that in this summer when I'm not running kids all over the place.



I'm going to start on the Kristy Woodson Harvey novels and read Slightly South of Simple first.  Jen passed this one on to me and I actually just started it a few days ago!  It seems like the perfect summer read!  

JEN

One of my favorite things about summer is summer reading time. There's nothing I love more than sitting on the beach reading a good beach book, and that's just what I plan on doing this month! First up is Kristy Woodson Harvey's The Southern Side of Paradise.


This is the third novel in her Peachtree Bluff series and I can't wait to read it. We've been fans for years and she was so nice to send us a copy when it was released. Kristy is on tour in Atlanta tonight if you want to stop by, say hi to her, and snag some of her fabulous books.

I have a few more beach reads wait in my stack, but welcome any suggestions you ladies might have!


What should we read next? What were your favorite books last month?



BOOK CLUB 2019 

January | February | March | April | May |


Follow along with us on Goodreads!


HAPPY READING! 


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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Movie Night: How to Train Your Dragon 3

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TrainYourDragonAtWalmart http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV


School is finally out for Summer! To say we are all excited is an understatement. We limped through the end of the school year, and still aren't quite sure how we survived the chaos that is the month of May. We've determined that this summer is going to be epic and what better way to kick off our celebrations with an epic movie night in?

Just before school let out the latest movie in the How to Train Your Dragon series was released. My kids have been begging to see How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. We missed it while it was in theaters, and for months they have let me know how bummed they were about this. So while the kids were wrapping up their last day of school, I was busy planning a fun movie night in.


I already had the perfect themed snack idea in mind, and wanted to grab a few other fun themed goodies to make it a special movie night for the kids. As I was placing my order for Walmart's pick-up in store option, I was so excited to learn they carried a special How to Train Your Dragon 3 Walmart Exclusive DVD Gift Set.


The set contains both Blu Ray, DVD, and Digital options of the movie as well as two super cute Funko keychains I just knew the kids would love. I quickly added the How to Train Your Dragon 3 Walmart Exclusive DVD Gift Set to my cart and threw in a fun How to Train Your Dragon t-shirt for Cute, and a few new toys as well. I couldn't wait to surprise the kids!


MEET THE LIGHT FURY

If you haven't heard of the How to Train Your Dragon series, get ready for lots of fun and dragon filled adventures. The story line follows a young viking chief, Hiccup, and his best dragon friend Toothless. The duo have had many adventures over the years to protect one another and each movie is jam packed with amazing animation, tons of adventure, and laugh out loud characters.



In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, a new character is introduced. A girl dragon - the Light Fury! My girls were so excited about this! The original duo now both have female counterparts to share their lives with, but are faced with the ultimate challenge - stay together or be split apart to stay safe?

Grimmel the Grisly is hot on their dragon tails to steal Toothless and use him as a prisoner to be the alpha dragon and give him ultimate control of all dragons. Hiccup, Toothless, and their fellow dragon riders search for safety in the quest to find the Hidden World.


REVIEWS ARE IN

My kids loved the movie! It was just as fun and entertaining as the previous movies in the series. I was extremely impressed with the storyline and the roles the females played in it (there might be some alpha males, but the females become the heroes in this one!).


The animation in this one is also beautiful! There is one part in the Hidden World that is just stunning! My kids were so amazed and wanted to know if it was a real place they could visit. 


Our fun celebratory movie night was a huge hit, and the kids have already requested to watch the movie several more times. 



NIGHT FURY + LIGHT FURY SNACK MIX

For movie nights I usually just do a quick snack or charcuterie plate for everyone to munch on. For our How to Train Your Dragon movie night I wanted to do a little something special. We were celebrating, and the kids were so beyond excited about seeing the new movie. I came up with a quick themed dessert bar, including a themed snack mix.








My special How to Train Your Dragon snack mix was inspired by the new movie. I loved the idea of creating a black and white snack mix to represent Toothless and the Light Fury. Snack mixes are also great because they require little to no baking - just the way I like my snacks.


I opted for a salty-sweet snack mix, and at first thought a black and white only combo would be tough to come up with, but in the end it was actually quite easy and I had to limit the amount of sweet ingredients I used. The black and white snack mix was super easy to make and was ready to go in just under a minute (perfect for the movie goers who requested a refill and a mommy who didn't want to miss any parts of the movie).



What You'll Need

  • Popcorn (use as your salty base)
  • Black and white chocolate morsels
  • Cookies and creme crumble candies
  • Mini-marshmallows
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
**All sweet items can be found on the candy aisle.



What To Do

  1. Pop popcorn according to instructions.  
  2. Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl. 
  3. Add in candy items and marshmallows. Stir together. 
  4. Serve and enjoy!


Note: Let popcorn cool completely before mixing in chocolate candies otherwise the popcorn will be warm enough to melt the chocolate. Still super yummy (obviously), but might get messy with small children. 



Family movie nights are always so fun! I love that we were able to kick off summer with something the kids had been looking forward to for so long. And that I was able to be little "extra" about it with it feeling like additional pressure and stress at the end of the school year. Everything came together with ease and very little effort. Between the How to Train Your Dragon 3 Walmart Exclusive DVD Gift Set, the fun themed apparel and toys, and the convenience of in store pick-up, the movie night took no more than a few minutes to put together. Their little smiles were huge, not a single snack was left over for me to munch on for breakfast the next morning, and now we have three options to watch the movie where ever the kids summer adventures take them.


I expect by the time school starts in August I'll have How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World completely memorized.


Enjoy your own movie night in! Head to Walmart and purchase the new release of How to Train Your Dragon 3 Walmart Exclusive DVD Gift Set today! 



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