Friday, March 29, 2013

Photography Friday {Sam Houston National Forest}

A few weeks ago we went up to Sam Houston National Forest for a little family adventure time. We spent about 4 hours wandering around, hiking through the woods and taking in the sights. We had an amazing time together as a family and BONUS the kids didn't argue at all. At the end of the day we were all exhausted and looking forward to our next adventure :) 













What adventures have you been on lately?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Using Frozen Foods to Lose Weight {#FrozenFacts}


Oh yes, you read that title right. I utilize frozen foods to help me lose weight. A lot of folks think that frozen meals can't be good for someone who wants to drop a few pounds or for someone who is trying to eat healthy, but that just isn't true! 

I'm a busy stay at home/work at home mama - I've got two kids, ages 5 & 3, to care for and entertain all day, a house to take care of and writing deadlines to make, among other things. 
We are all busy, right? 
I don't have time to cook 3 square meals a day that are nutritious and balanced and all of that stuff. So, I often turn to frozen meals for my lunches. Healthy Choice meals provide built in portion control; they offer more than 80 meals with less than 400 calories each. 
Yes, please.

I just ate this one the other day:


It was super delicious! It was the first time I had tried the Healthy Choice Cafe' Steamers and I was really impressed. I also loved that the meal was inspired by Top Chef. You might be afraid that frozen meals will taste like cardboard, but these Healthy Choice meals do not disappoint! 

Does this look as if it tastes like cardboard to you?


When I'm feeling uninspired to create something healthy and tasty for myself, I love that I can pull out a Healthy Choice meal from the freezer. In just a few minutes I have a great meal to eat and I'm still on track with my weight loss goals.


You can tell from the picture above just how fresh these ingredients are. The vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness and most go from farm to freezer within 24 hours. 


"Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s created a video that follows two women on the adventures of their daily lives, imagining how new technologies will impact their routines, especially in the grocery store. From apps that store your grocery list to recipe research on Pinterest, the landscape of shopping is quickly changing. With various resources available to consumers, they are now, more than ever, interested in learning where their food is coming from.
And just in time for National Frozen Food Month (March), these brands are helping shoppers to predict the future of shopping for frozen food!"



So, I'm curious. Has technology changed the way you shop? Do you use your phone to keep a grocery list handy? Do you use apps to compare prices on your favorite items? Or maybe you use Pinterest to create a weekly meal plan?
(I know I do!)

How do you use frozen foods to cook for your family?

ConAgra Foods frozen meals give families accetss to real ingredients like crunchy, freshly cut vegetables, homemade pasta and ripe fruit year-round. Just like most people blanch veggies before freezing them – ConAgra Foods does too – to help preserve color, texture and keep them fresh!

Give it a try sometime! Marie Callender’s hearty pot pies are filled with tender meat, freshly cut vegetables and Marie’s authentic golden, flaky crust. And Healthy Choice recipes use chef-inspired ingredients like, apples instead of sugar for tart sweetness and a splash of red wine for a punch of flavor instead of added salt.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ConAgra Foods.

All opinions stated in this post are 100% my own. I really do love Healthy Choice meals & they have helped me lose some weight (yay!).

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Wednesday Weigh In {Week 13}

Happy {sort of} weigh in Wednesday ladies! 

This is going to be short and sweet today because I feel like my to do list is getting longer and longer by the second. 

I've had a bad week in terms of watching what I'm eating and also just in general. I've comforted myself with food. I knew I was doing it while I was doing it and yet I continued to make bad decisions. We went out to dinner last night and I even had dessert, my favorite dessert. That is like 1,000 calories by itself. I didn't feel guilty about it at the time, and I told myself I wouldn't feel guilty about it later, but I did. 
Crap.

Do you ever feel like you are sabotaging yourself?  I do. 


I'm up .6 lbs. this week and to be honest, I expected much worse. 

I'm wiping the slate clean and starting over as of now and looking forward to a week full of healthier choices. What else can you do?

Link up your fitness related posts below! 



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{This month's advertisement}

On Seat Belt Safety

We all know how important it is to wear a seat belt by now right? 
Please say you do
If you are someone who chooses to not wear your seat belt I'm going to advise you to just click off of this post now, otherwise there is a good chance you'll be offended by the end.

PARENTS 
Why are you not buckling your children up in seat belts and/or safety seats? 
WHY? 

Last week there was a horrific accident near my home. A woman was driving her 10 year old son home from a doctors appointment (he had a heart condition). 
He was in the back seat and he was not wearing his seat belt. 
The "mother" ran a red light and crashed into an oncoming vehicle. 
Her son? Killed at the scene. 
Heartbreaking. 


I want to have sympathy for this family, I really do, but I just can't find any. 
There is ZERO reason why this child should have been without his seat belt! 


Now - I wasn't in that car and I don't know what was going on. The report doesn't state whether or not the mother (driver) was wearing a seat belt. She was however flown by life flight to the hospital and because of that I'll assume she wasn't wearing one. Concerning the child - is it possible that the mother told the child to buckle up and he didn't do it? Is it possible that while en route the child unbuckled himself? 
Sure, it's possible. 



As a parent it is your responsibility to ensure your child's safety. I always wear my seat belt. It sets a good example for my children. My vehicle doesn't move until everyone is properly buckled. If someone in my vehicle (adult or child) refuses to buckle or unbuckles - the car stops. 

I may be overly sensitive about this subject, but with good reason. I never had the chance to meet my maternal grandmother. When my mother was 15 years old her mother passed away in a car accident. A drunk driver ran a red light and hit the car that she was riding in. She wasn't wearing her seat belt and she was ejected from the car. 

When I was 16 years old I was riding in the car with my mom and baby brother in the back seat. A teenage driver ran a red light and t-boned us. We were all properly restrained and we walked away from the accident with minimal injuries. 
It scared the hell out of me

Last year, my husband and I were going out to eat with our children when we were rear ended. My babies were in the backseat. Of course they were in safety seats and were properly restrained. As a parent, there is no greater fear than the fear of something horrible happening to your children. Everyone walked away, but had they not been in their seats and buckled? I can't imagine. 

I see people all the time riding in vehicles with babies in their laps. I see parents putting their child in the car and not taking the few seconds needed to buckle them up.

There is no excuse. Isn't your child's life worth it? 

Just a heads up: I'm the woman who will report you to the authorities if you choose to not buckle your children.

Seat belts save lives people. 

***Note*** I wrote this post last week when this incident was still fresh on my mind. Randomly tonight while getting in the car after a dinner out my 5 year old struck up a conversation about seat belt safety.

Addison: "Okay, is everyone buckled up? Because you know we all have to buckle up before the car can move!"

We continued to talk about why seat belts are necessary (they save lives) and who should wear seat belts (everyone) and when they should wear them (all the time, every time!).

I am one proud mama. I have one very happy heart  knowing that I have shown my children how to be responsible in this way and knowing that they have retained this information.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ilana Mercy Recovery Fund 5K & Fundraiser

Today I wanted to share with you about a fundraiser going on in my area for a sweet little girl who was in a bad accident recently. I have so many readers with a kind and giving heart and my hope is that some of you will feel the desire to help this family either through donations or your time. 


On Thursday, March 14th, 2013 Ilana Mercy was involved in an ATV accident that caused serious head trauma. At the time of the accident Ilana was taken by life flight to Texas Children's Hospital where she spent several days in I.C.U. and has had numerous tests, scans, etc. By the grace of God she is on the mend, but the recovery period is going to be extensive. 



There are a lot of ways that you can help this young lady's family in her recovery. 


- My cousin, Andrea is donating all of her commissions from this Scentsy party that she has set up specifically for Ilana's recovery fund. To order from this party, visit Andrea's Scentsy website and select the party called "Fundraiser for Ilana." 

- I will be donating 20% of all proceeds from ad sales on Charm + Sass starting now until 04/09. 

- If you'd simply like to make a cash donation and/or find out more about Ilana's situation, you may do that here.

- If you are local to the Houston area and you would like to sign up to participate in the 5K or donate to the silent auction, you may do that here. There is no fee to register for the 5K, only a suggestion to donate to the fund.

You can get up to date information by liking the Ilana Mercy Recovery Fund 5K & Silent Auction on facebook.

If you can contribute in any way - be it with a donation or simply just spreading the word - the family would be so grateful. 

Thank you friends!

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Not Your Typical Q & A

Happy Tuesday Darlings! I've been chatting with one of my sweet sponsors for this month, Samara, and we came up with a fun little Q & A to help y'all get to know her better! So y'all pull up a chair and check out Samara's interview and then pop over to her blog to say hi will ya?

BLOG.TWITTER.PINTEREST.

1) Tell us a little about yourself & your blog. 
Hello! As you may have guessed from the title of my blog, my name is Samara. I am 25 years old and have been married for three years now to my 6"8 husband Joel. I love to craft, which you will see a lot of on my blog, as well laughing at my rabbits antics, which you will also read a bit about on the blog. I am a Christian and seek to share a bit of my faith with my readers. I am also Australian- which people often don't realise when reading my blog, except when I spell favourite, mum and metre differently.

2) You live in Australia - a place that I've been fascinated with since I was a little girl (true story) - tell us some things that we might not know/or expect about Australia.
This question always makes me laugh. When I visited family in England for the first time as a teenager, they were shocked that I wasn't a tanned surfy! The stereotypical Australia that you see in pictures is not what it is in reality- we are not all slim, fit, sporty types nor do we have kangaroos jumping down our streets. And no, all the guys here are not total spunk muffins, unfortunately. In fact, it is all pretty ordinary and often the stereotypes are inaccurate. We do use slang words a lot however. For example, McDonalds is "Maccas", "that's good/great/awesome" is "heaps good" and people really do say "G'day". It is an awesome place to visit though- definitely come over here for a holiday, the scenery is stunning.

3) What made you decide on a pet bunny?
I have had pet rabbits ever since I was 7 years old; I was rabbit obsessed as a child. While I was studying at Uni and living out of home I didn't have a rabbit so as soon as I was married and more 'settled' I knew I wanted to get one again. My rabbit Nibbles was actually given to my husband and I as a wedding present from one of my bridesmaids and to this day blesses our lives immensely. My husband may disagree with this when she pees on him or chews the fridge cord (even I was pretty unimpressed with that one!).

4) It's Saturday morning and you have no plans - how do you spend your day?
I dream of this happening! First of all I would sleep in until about 8 or 9 before spending my morning crafting and watching One Tree Hill. I would then meet up with friends for a lazy lunch date before heading back home for a bath in preparation for dinner at an expensive restaurant with my husband.

Love me some One Tree Hill! 

5) What is your favorite aspect about blogging? Least favorite?
My favourite aspect about blogging is interacting with my readers. I love the conversations that I have with readers via email and the comments that they leave. I also really enjoy writing the blog posts; I just have so much to say! My least favourite part about blogging is feeling inadequate. Sometimes I feel like a little fish in a big pond and feel like I'm not 'cool' enough- I don't have an extensive wardrobe, struggle to take amazing shots and don't have thousands of followers or page views. The pros certainly outweigh the cons however.

I think we are all little fish in a big pond, but honey, you are enough! 

6) Top 3 movies of all time, go!
Oooh, tough one! I am a sucker for romance and nice 'fluffy' movies. I love The Notebook, any Disney movie and any Julia Roberts movie... is that too broad or too much of a cop out? I honestly wouldn't be able to pick!

I hate this question too - I can never pick :)

7) Your dream vacation - describe it.
Oh boy, I love holidaying! I have been on my dream vacation with my husband. It was in Fiji. We spent a week island hopping and then a week at a luxury resort. We drank lots of cocktails, stuffed ourselves silly with delicious food and spent our days lazing by the pool/beach, reading and relaxing. It was sooo good! As for future vacations, I hope to one day go to Disneyworld having been to Disneyland a few years ago.

...and now I'm jealous because you've been to Fiji :)

8) #1 on your bucket list?
Adopt a child. I have felt a calling to adopt since I was about 15 and that calling is getting stronger and stronger by the day. My husband and I have just started the process to adopt a child, but know that it is still a few years off. 

9) One thing you will never, ever do?
Get a tattoo. I hate needles and pain, so a tattoo is out of the question. That and I change my mind too much; I would get a tattoo and within a year be sick of it no doubt.

I want one. I'm also a chicken so it will probably never happen.

10) You get a whole day to spend with anyone you can imagine - who would it be?
I would be happy with spending just 5 minutes with Taylor Hanson. I had the biggest crush on him in school and swore that we were going to get married. I would love to meet him one day to tell him about the scrap book that my friend and I made about him and his brothers. I think perhaps telling him about the collage we made of their faces might be taking it a step too far though, agreed?!


This gal is awesome don't you think? 
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Monday, March 25, 2013

Houston Children's Festival {+ A Giveaway}



The Houston Children's Festival is the largest children's festival in the United States and is celebrating it's 25th year this April 6th and 7th. The festival benefits Child Advocates, Inc., a group that speaks up for abused children.  

This is a fabulous event; I took the kiddos last year and we had a blast. There are so many activities (over 300) and plenty of entertainment (on 5 different stages!). There will even be appearances by Victoria Justice from Nickelodeon's hit series Victorious and Laura Marano from Disney Channel's Austin and Ally. Let's not forget appearances from everyone's favorite explorer, Dora, as well as Sid the Science Kid! 

The Houston Children's Festival will be held in Downtown Houston - City Hall, Houston Public Library Plaza & Tranquility Park on Saturday and Sunday, April 6-7, from 10:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are just $10 per person with children 3 and under being free. Food, beverages and games are by coupon only, 9 coupons for $10. 
Get more information on the festival & tickets.

However, one lucky reader is going to win themselves a family 4 pack of general admission tickets! 

Just enter below via the rafflecopter widget for your chance to win. All entries will be verified. Tickets will be mailed once winner has been notified and claimed their prize. 

GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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I received complimentary tickets to the Houston Children's Festival in exchange for this writing this post and hosting a giveaway. All thought and opinions are 100% my own.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekly Whhaaaat?

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Let's recap the many blog posts from this week shall we? 
You know, just in case you missed something! 

Monday

Of course there was the ever so present Weekend ReCap. We spent the majority of last weekend painting the exterior of our house and it looks uhmazzing now. 

I also introduced y'all to some of my beautiful sponsors for March; if you haven't read that post yet, you should. I've got some great ladies hanging out with me this month and I think y'all will love 'em as much as I do! 

Tuesday

I jumped in feet first and talked about everyone's most hated topic:  money! 
I gave some good advice and told you how to get even more so you should definitely read that. 
It's for your financial future people. 

I also had the pleasure of co-hosting the Texas Tuesday Link Up this week! I shared all about my favorite spot in the Texas Hill Country as well as some of my favorite things to do there. This is mine & hubby's go to spot when we just have to get away for a bit! 

Wednesday

Oh you know, Wednesday is weigh in day around here. 

Thursday

My sweet friend Sheree guest posted on the blog and told you a little about herself. 

I also teased you with this delicious recipe.

Friday

Friday is Photography Friday around here and this week I shared with you photos that I took at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year! 

As always, thanks for hanging out with me y'all! Have a great weekend! 


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Friday, March 22, 2013

Photography Friday: Take 5 {Rodeo Edition}

Happy Friday lovelies!! 
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo just wrapped up a few days ago so I thought that today's Photography Friday should be photos that I took while we were enjoying the festivities!


















Have a great weekend y'all! 

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

So Much Yummy {Semi Homemade Cream Cheese Danishes}

Hey y'all! 
Okay, so I know I've been teasing you for a good week at least about these amazing danishes I've been making (twice now!) and I've been promising you the recipe for almost as long.
  Well, I"m here to deliver on that promise.


The thing is though, you'll have to go over to Rachel's blog to find it! I'm guest posting for her today and I thought this recipe would perfect to share with her readers. 
We like to share around here don't we ladies? 
Yes, we do.


Y'all go on over there and check these beauties out and say hi to me at Rach's place and don't forget to pin the recipe so you can find it later!

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{This month's advertisement}

Say Howdy!

Howdy friends! I've got a little treat for you! You may have noticed the new banner at the bottom of all my posts lately - well it's a new ad spot I'm offering and today I'd like to you introduce you to the very first blogger to utilize that space! I met Sheree through a giveaway that she won and I"m so glad that I did! She is a total doll and I know y'all will love her! 

Hey everyone! I'm Sheree from The Hartungs Blog. Today I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself  :)

When and why did you start your blog? I started my blog last fall. I'm from BC, and my husband and I live in Alberta. With all of my friends and family back home in Vancouver, I started the blog as a way to keep in touch with them. I found that I'd forget to tell them small details about our lives and our marriage, so I wanted a place where I could write about the little details of our lives. I thought a lot about starting a blog last year, and I decided to jump right in in November! I never thought that it would become a hobby of mine. I write about the dates Cade and I go on, or evenings with friends, or new recipes I'm trying. I think that months/years from now, I'll be able to look back and remember the daily lives of our newlywed years.

Describe yourself in three words: organized, genuine, chocoholic (haha)

How long have you been married? Tell us a bit about your husband, Cade: My hubby and I have been married for two years this August. He is determined, hard-working, and sincerely kind-hearted. But my favorite thing about him is his sense of humour! More often than not, he has me doubled over with laughter. I can't believe how fast the past two years have gone! I'm stilling calling ourselves newlyweds...how long should a couple be considered newlyweds? Who knows!

What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time? What spare time, haha. My hubby and I are both full-time students, so we're always very busy! If I do have a moment to myself, you'll probably find me baking. I love trying new recipes and experimenting (like mini meatloaves, or mini mint chocolate fudge cheesecakes). But I don't like keeping my baking in my house - otherwise I'll eat it all! Haha. So my friends and family usually get yummy gifts :)

A big thank you to Lacey for letting me guest post! Hopefully you stop my blog and say hello :)

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