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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bestowed {A Subscription Box Review + Giveaway!}

#SPONSORED This post is sponsored by Bestowed. I received a free box in exchange for a review and hosting a giveaway. All opinions are my own. Post may contain affiliate links.

Hey y'all! Boy have I got a treat for you! I was recently asked to review a Bestowed box and I jumped at the chance! I love the idea behind a monthly box subscription, which is exactly what Bestowed is; each month your Bestowed box will come packed with 5 or more healthy nutrition or lifestyle products which are all hand picked by celebrity nutritionist and author Heather Bauer. I really like that fact that brands can't pay to be featured in the box; these items are chosen because of their quality. 

I'm always intrigued by all of the "healthier options" I see but I'm usually afraid to try them out. Often times the products are a bit costly and if I don't like them then I will have wasted my money! Because of this I usually opt out of buying new health food products. Bestowed is a great way to sample new products without forking over a lot of cash. 

Here are some of my favorites that came in my box:

I love olives but I was a little nervous to try these out because of the "habanero chilies." I like hot, but not too hot and I know habaneros are hot! I would have never bought these off of the store shelf, but because they were in my box I gave them a try. Guess what? FANTASTIC. They aren't really hot at all but they had amazing flavor. Also, for those who don't like the tart taste of green olives - these weren't that tart! At only 50 calories they made a great snack! 

The other product that I really loved were these Nektar Honey Crystals. I used to put honey in my tea all the time and I loved it so I gave it a go in my coffee. It was delicious and the best part? No sticky mess! 

While I loved everything in my Bestowed box, I also have to mention the huge bag of KIND Health Grains, Oats and Honey Clusters that we received. My #minime LOVES IT. She literally asks for it as a snack and she has eaten almost the entire bag over the last two weeks. It is really tasty. 

At just $19 a month (cheaper if you purchase annually) I think that Bestowed is a great value. Plus, if you use code 5OFFBSTOWED01 you can get $5 off your first box! If you aren't ready to make the leap to purchase a subscription you can win one free box right here! That's right, one lucky Charm + Sass reader will win their very own Bestowed box (one month!).  

Giveaway is open to U.S. readers only, per Bestowed. Enter below via the rafflecopter widget. GOOD LUCK!

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Call Me Soccer Mom

Y'all remember last week when I told you all about our car accident from last year? You know, the one where my brand new car was only about two months old and we got rear ended? Well, there was one, and only one, good thing that happened out of that whole ordeal. We were blessed with the greatest rental car ever.

Here's something y'all probably don't know about me. I've been begging, I'm telling you begging, my husband to buy me a minivan since 2007. I might have a slight obsession with these beautiful beasts; I did learn to drive in a Dodge Grand Caravan after all. I just can't help but love what minivans have to offer! Spacious interior, convenient sliding doors. Oh, and a third row seat. Do you know what I could do with a third row seat? No, you pervs. I'd put my kids back there - where I can't hear 'em as good from the front! WHAT?! You know you would too. 

When my husband pulled into our driveway with this perfect specimen I about wet my pants. (Okay, that might be exaggerating a bit, but not much.) I give you - the BEST rental car EVER. 

Isn't she pretty? Okay, well if you aren't immediately smitten like I am, let me show you a few nifty little things.

Look at all that space! There's that 3rd row I was talking about! 

Oh, and check these compartments out! There was one on each side of the van and they are so roomy! Perfect to keep extra diapers, change of clothes for the kiddos, etc. Perfection.

Oh, and look! A huge trunk area! PLENTY of room for groceries, bikes, sporting equipment, etc.

And this, THIS, might be my favorite feature.

At the push of a button (from the keyless entry) both, or one, doors slide right open. Not only do they open at the push of the button, but they close too! Hello, awesome.

Then, the last part that amazed me, and that my kids LOVED:

I hear you, you're like "big freakin' deal, the windows roll down?" but y'all, windows don't usually roll down in minivans!!

Okay, now that everyone thinks I'm some kind  of crazy. My hubby has finally agreed that when we get ready to purchase a second car it can be a minivan. However, we are a one car family and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Hmmph!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tanger Taste & Style w/Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone

This post is sponsored by Tanger Outlets. I received two free VIP passes to the Tanger Taste & Style event in exchange for this post. All thoughts are my own. 

Howdy friends! So this weekend, I attended an event hosted by Tanger Outlets, and it was amazing.

I invited my mom to go with me because she is a HUGE Curtis Stone fan and I knew she would be thrilled to see him. I was right.

When we arrived at Tanger Outlets we were greeted with an assortment of food trucks to explore! I'm not exactly "hip" to the food truck scene so I was excited to test drive a few of their offerings!

Our first stop? Angie's Cake. That's my mom up there posing in front of the van! Angie was super nice and we ended up purchasing 3 cake balls for $5. We chose lemon, key lime, and ginger beer. Both the key kime and lemon were fantastic! I didn't get a chance to try the ginger beer though.

We also snagged a cupcake from Custom Confections; after noticing that they had won awards from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo the last two years in a row, I was excited to try one of their yummy looking cupcakes!

Looks good right? I wish I could say it was amazing but I was rather disappointed. It just lacked flavor in my opinion.

The final food truck we sampled from was POCKet To Me;'all. SO good! I had a pita pocket stuffed to the brim with a lightly fried fish and a fresh slaw on top. It was divine! I want one, right now, actually. Sorry, didn't get a picture, probably because I ate it too fast!

While we were waiting for the Curtis Stone event to start, my mom and I walked around a bit. We stopped and picked up a copy of Curtis' new book, What's For Dinner?

Photo Credit
Then we noticed that there was a photo booth set up for folks to be silly and grab a free photo op. Yea, we were all over that!

We were having a great time and before we knew it we had to rush back to our seats because it was time for Curtis to come on stage. He started off his demo by making a Berry Bramble cocktail; he kept complaining that the tool he was using to mash the ingredients was "wimpy" (see below).

I'm not a fan of wimpy things myself which is why when he brought out the glass he intended to put his drink in I felt obliged to let him know that it was a wimpy one! I did, and he agreed! 

Curtis was highlighting some of the new recipes in his book and one of the categories in that book is ten minute meals. Curtis challenged himself to create one of his 10 minute meals in just 5 minutes! Of course he needed someone from the audience to time him and he picked my mom! 

I know you can't really see the expression on her face here, but this is her shocked expression! She loves Curtis Stone y'all! Can you believe he complimented her on her shoes?! HER SHOES!!! 

You may not know this, but Curtis is a bit chatty. I didn't mind though; he was funny and has a gorgeous smile so he can talk all day long for all I care. Anyway, once my mom told him he only had three minutes left to complete this stir fry he turned up the heat. 

And this is where she peed her pants. Kidding. She does however still have that huge grin on her face even three days later. 

Handsome guy right ladies?

After the demo was over we were able to meet with Curtis and take a photo and get his autograph! This was the greatest day y'all. I've been flipping through Curtis' new book since the event and there are some amazing recipes in this book that I can't wait to try and share with y'all. 

A HUGE thank you to Tanger Outlets for putting on this great event! 
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On Buying A New Home

I mentioned to y’all a few months ago that my husband and I hope to sell our home this year and in turn buy a new home.  We haven’t quite reached that point yet; we are still, slowly but surely, working through our list of home repairs. Y’all saw the big house reveal didn’t you? While we aren’t ready to make that leap and put our house on the market yet, we have been talking more about our options lately.

My taste in homes differs a lot from my husband’s tastes. He would be happy in something that is brand new from the foundation up. While I totally get the lure of a brand new home, I’m personally drawn to older homes in more established neighborhoods.  

Then we found out that our current neighbors were building a brand new home in a neighborhood that I already know and love; a neighborhood that is very well established and “right up my alley” if you will. I’ve watched my neighbors go through this process over the last few months and it was practically painless for them. They had a great experience and they are now happy in their new home, and I’m sad without my neighbors (that’s a whole other post).

Needless to say, their home building process has my husband and I considering newly built homes rather  than already existing homes. Luck for my husband, it’s not hard to come up with good reasons for buying a brand new home.

New builds are more energy efficient than older homes; some builders even build with specialized products that are more eco friendly, but just having brand new windows and doors would make a difference in anyone’s heating and cooling costs. I’d love to have new windows in our current home; our home was built in 1979 (it’s older than me!) and I’m fairly certain the windows have never been replaced. Replacing them would cost a pretty penny, one that we don’t have!

The other thing that I’ve grown to love about newly built homes is that we could trade our “to-do list” in for a “want to-do” list. Listen, I’m a woman and there are a lot of things that I want. What? It’s true and you know it! My poor husband, he is such a trooper! I’ve always got some crazy DIY idea to try and typically he just goes with it. Unless of course he has things that he “needs” to do – like fix the tile in the kitchen or replace the siding on the back of the house. Yes, those are two things that we’ve been working on around here lately and it has put off some of the projects that I’ve wanted to do because those things had to be done first. Well, my smart husband made a point to tell me that if we built a brand new home that everything would already be done to our specifications. There would be no more what we “need” to do, just what we “want” to do. As a woman, doing what I want sure appeals to me! 

You can find more information about buying a new home here. While you are there enter to win a grand prize of $10,000. (Hello down payment on a house!!)

So I want to know, what do y’all think? New home or existing home? Why?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Emerald City Custom Jewelry

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Howdy friends!! I don't think I've ever been happier to see a Monday in my life!! I'm so glad to be starting a fresh, new week. I'm hoping to leave the tension from last week (mostly) behind me and hopefully this week will be a little bit sunnier! 

I would like to introduce to you today, Emerald City Custom Jewelry


Emerald City is a company run by Emily & Moise, a husband and wife team. Emily is the creative artist of the duo - she makes all of the custom jewelry. Take a look at some of the pieces she has done recently

Aren't these pieces fantastic? You can see more of Emily's work on the Emerald City Facebook Page.

I had the opportunity to ask Emily a few questions recently and I wanted to share with you our little interview. 

1) I'm a Texas girl, through and through. You moved here from the Northeast; what made you decide on Austin? Do you like it?

I moved to Austin in 2001 for a job. I had never been to the city before. I decided to stay because I love how accessible Austin is. There is so much you can see and do without much planning. It’s a welcoming city. Austin is a community that is always supporting new and interesting things. I also love hot weather and sunshine so this is the perfect climate for me.

2) You run Emerald City Custom Jewelry with your new husband. How did the two of you meet?

I actually met my husband at his own birthday party - I was invited by a mutual friend.  He was having a karaoke party and my friend asked me to tag along.  So I actually have pictures of the first time I ever met my husband which is kind of strange.

3) Where do you draw inspiration for the jewelry you create?

I am mostly inspired by visual art.  I focus on color, composition, and design. Keith Haring was my biggest artistic influence growing up. All my visual art work is abstract. Even the portraits I do are highly abstracted. I’m not into photorealism, I don’t do still life or realistic portraits. I think this translates into my jewelry making. I tend to become intensely focused on the design and color combinations of the pieces I’m creating. How do the colors communicate with each other? Is the piece balanced, proportioned? It is a unique, colorful, bold piece I would wear?  I'm also fascinated by gemstones, I have been since I was a child.  So I'm definitely inspired by all the different gemstones I get to play with.

4) It's obvious that you love to create, but when you aren't doing that, what do you love to do?

I'm a devoted animal rescuer and pet lover - my husband and I own pet rabbits, a guinea pig, a cat, and a fish.  All except the fish were rescues.  Though technically we rescued the fish from a sad existence at a pet store.  I'm a big city person and like exploring and being out and about.  I love going to see movies at The Alamo Drafthouse, I paint and draw, and do urban patio gardening (we live in an apartment in the city, but still try to grow vegetables and flowers.)

5) Share with us your most favorite piece that you've ever made.

I don't know that I have a favorite piece, I had to think a long time on this question.  My favorite pieces are those I customize for people that they end up giving as gifts, those are always a lot of fun.

Emily, thank you for submitting yourself to all of my questions, you are awesome! 

Know what else is awesome? The April special at Emerald City Custom Jewelry

When you buy any TWO pieces, custom or pre-made, you will receive a free initial pendant necklace of your choice. Yes please!

Be sure to check out Emily's website or you can "like" Emerald City Jewelry on facebook for regular updates! 

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

The New Car Curse

Last February around Valentines Day (either a few days before or a few days after - it was more than a year ago, I can't flippin' remember!) hubby bought me a brand new car.

Wait, Wait, let's back up. I used to drive a Chevy Avalanche. I'm a Texas Girl. I like trucks. Chevy trucks.
BIG CHEVY TRUCKS.  Y'all should definitely know that about me. Anyway, I loved my Chevy, still miss it to this very day but gas prices were (shoot, still are) shooting through the roof and being that we're a one car family (with the exception of hubby's motorcycle which doesn't count for me) we were spending an arm and a leg for gas. We were paying damn near $100 every time we filled that sucker up and we were doing it way too often.

Okay, back to the story. Hubs bought me a brand spankin' new car. I had an instant love/hate relationship with this car. Hate(d) it because it was a car and it was not a Chevy. Love(d) it because it was brand spankin' new! I've had some really nice cars in my day (God, how old am I?!) but never one that was brand new. I was pretty excited about the whole ordeal and it didn't take me long to settle in nicely with my cute little Ford Fusion.

About a month later - I had literally just made my first car note - Hubs, the kids, and I headed out one evening for a dinner out (hubs was driving). It was still daylight out and it had been raining a little bit that day, but at the time the skies were clear. We were stopped in the middle of the road way with our left blinker on to turn into the parking lot of the restaurant when all of a sudden WHAM! We were rear ended.

Of course my first reaction is to make sure my kids were okay and they were. They were very scared and so was I. I didn't have time to think about that though because my second thought was to keep my husband from whoopin' someone's a@@.

It was a teenage driver who hit us. He claimed that he didn't even see us which is pretty much impossible unless his eyes were closed or focused on something else; most likely the case if you ask me.

A survey of the damage:

The reason I'm posting this today is because it is the one year anniversary of our accident, 04/20 (which I also suspect had something to do with the accident if you know what I mean.)

I couldn't post in detail about the accident when it happened because unfortunately it became a long drawn out process with insurance claims, lawyers, doctors, etc. Hubby and I had to see a chiropractor everyday for like 3 months straight. We still have pain from the accident. This is the original post about the accident.

My car was fixed and looking at it now you would never know that it's been wrecked. Except that I know and I hate it. I can't wait to get rid of that thing. This accident cause a ton of stress.

I am however grateful. As bad as the damage was, we were rear ended while at a complete stand still. The vehicle that hit us was a mini van and it was travelling at an estimated 45 MPH. Our accident could have been much worse. My Ford Fusion did it's job by protecting our family.

Come back tomorrow to read about the rental I drove while my car was in the shop. I've deemed it the "greatest rental car ever!"
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Just Checking In

Hey y'all. Is anyone else tired of me being down in the dumps? Cause I sure am. 

I'm totally off balance this week and I'm trying, trying to regain my composure! I"ve been waiting all day with bated breath, hoping that this monster will be caught and brought to justice. 

I've been keeping myself busy, err, my kids have been keeping me busy and I"m so thankful for that, especially today. 

I had a lot of really great things lined up to share with you this week but I just couldn't get myself to produce them. Good things are coming, next week. 

I hope that all of you are doing well and are safe. My prayers are with each and every one of you. 

Here's to a good weekend friends; I think we all need it! 
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just Being Honest

Let's just be honest. It has been one craptastic week. Hell, it's no wonder I've been in an awful mood.

First, Boston.

Now West.

Poisonous letters being sent to members of our government. Suspicious packages. School lock downs. Plus the many other senseless acts that we haven't even heard about yet, or may never hear about.

No wonder I'm stressed out, down and out, in a fowl mood. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for my health and my safety. I'm thankful that my family hasn't been hurt in any of these cases.  My worries and troubles are nothing compared to what others are going through.

However, I still feel unsure. I don't really feel safe. There are unanswered questions and there are worries.

I just don't understand WHY. Of course this is what everyone wants to know and there is a good chance that we never will.

I don't mean to be such a Debbie Downer, y'all. I just don't get it.

My friend Whitney wrote a great post yesterday and I wanted to share it with y'all. What she said is a lot of what I feel; especially the parts about how we all deal with tragedies differently.

I'm an avoider. I keep going and try to focus on something else, try to keep myself busy. That doesn't mean I'm not thinking about the things that are going on or that my heart isn't breaking right along with the victims and their families. It's just my way of coping.
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LEGO® KidsFest Ticket Giveaway! Ends 04/24/13

#Sponsored Thank you to US Family Guide and LEGO® KidsFest for sponsoring this giveaway.

Remember on Tuesday I told y'all that the LEGO® KidsFest was coming to Houston?

If you do, then you might also remember that I promised that one of you lucky readers would win a pair of tickets to the opening night, Friday May 17th, session
(4-8:30 P.M.)! As a BONUS prize, that's also the time that I'll be there with my family! I kid. I mean, that is when I"ll be there but you might not even care!

If you love playing with LEGO® bricks or if you have kids who love the LEGO® brand then this is an event you won't want to miss!

Here's a little bit of what you can expect:
  • 40 life-sized models made entirely of LEGO® bricks
  • Race Ramps - build your own custom car and then race it down the ramps
  • a gigantic pile of LEGO® bricks for creative play and enjoyment

FUN FACT: More than 400 billion LEGO® bricks have been produced since 1949.

Stay up to date on on LEGO® KidsFest happenings:

Like on Facebook
Follow On Twitter

Based on sell-out attendance in previous cities, advanced ticket purchase is strongly encouraged. Adults tickets are $20 and children's tickets are $18. 
For a limited time Save $2 per ADULT ticket

So who wants to win a pair of tickets to the LEGO® expo in Houston on 05/17? 

Enter to win by completing this form
Winner will be chosen randomly by US Family Guide on 04/24/13 and notified by email. I will also announce the winner here on Charm + Sass.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Weigh In {Week 16}

I allowed myself to temporarily forget this morning that I needed to post for Wednesday Weigh In. Damn if I didn't remember. 

I'm taking a break from Wednesday Weigh In's. Maybe a week, maybe two weeks, I'm not sure. I'm still going to post on Wednesdays and I'm still going to put the linky at the bottom of this page so that I can support all of you, my friends, in your journey. 

For the last two weeks I've been stressed out and overwhelmed. I've been eating my feelings. Stress eating, emotional eating, and no-excuse eating just cause I wanted to. I  have set myself back and I'm feeling defeated. 

I need to take a break, compose myself and get up and try again. 

I will get up and try again.

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