Laura Story “Open Hands” Album Review and Giveaway!

I’ve got another great album for you to check out! Laura Story just released her new album, Open Hands and I could not be more excited to share it with you! I knew I was going to love this album the moment I slipped it into my CD player and the first song that played was When Death Was Arrested. This is one of my FAVORITE worship songs right now, and her version is phenomenal!

Open Hands is a sequel of sorts to Story’s 2013 album, God of Every Story. You’ll hear many different artists throughout her tracks, including Matt Redman, Matt Maher and Seth Mosley! The title track features guest vocals from Mac Powell of Third Day.

You’ll find that every song on this album is uplifting and relatable, she has truly made an album worth listening too!

You can check out the song, Open Hands, below or checkout the song devotional HERE. Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win your own copy of Laura Story’s album in the widget at the bottom of this post!

 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

How to Survive the Start of the New School Year – Home School Edition

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

5 Tips for Mom for the New School Year

It’s no secret that we are homeschooling our children, it’s also no secret that we just found out that I’m expecting our fourth child! Needless to say, both of these are exhausting on top of the every day “mom tasks”. We just started our school year, Boogie is starting Kindergarten and Bubby is starting Pre-Kindergarten.

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Starting a new school year is intimidating and exciting all at the same time. You have a huge weight on your shoulders to offer an education to your children and the sense of excitement from you and your children about the upcoming school year brings so much joy! So here are 5 tips on how I survive the beginning of the new school year!

  1. Prepare ahead of time. I like to put together about 2-3 weeks of lessons to get us started, then I can see what works for us and what doesn’t. It also allows us time to be flexible and I can move things around until we find the right fit.
  2. Don’t rush into it, you may not like the curriculum or topics you originally chose. So take your time going over the materials with your children and have fun with it!
  3. Don’t limit yourself to schooling inside! Go to the library, the park, the zoo, the museum, or even your own backyard! One of the best things about homeschooling is the immense flexibility you have to school wherever you wish!
  4. Find a support system. Whether this be your family, friends, or even a home school group. While we haven’t joined a local co-op in our new city yet, I have connected with a group of local home school families on Facebook. Having that place to vent, swap ideas, and plan meet ups is so very helpful.
  5. Start every day with a good protein filled breakfast. I discovered Special K protein shakes and bars, pair these with a good fruit and you are set to start your day. Special K helps fortify you for what’s ahead!

 

I knew I needed to find something to fill my queasy tummy in the mornings and that would also sustain me through our morning chores and then our 2 hour school day. (This is a huge plus in my book for homeschooling!) Even though I’m 16 weeks pregnant, I am still suffering through “morning” sickness, it’s a plague that will not relinquish it’s hold! If I can get a good protein into my system I’m usually good to go, but most end up making me feel more sick.

I was excited for the opportunity to try some of the protein bars and shakes that Kellogg’s® Special K® offer, so I headed over to our local Kroger grocery store to hunt some down. You can find Special K products all over the store, if you head to the breakfast cereal aisle you can find granola bars, brownies and cereals. You can head to the breakfast freezer section to find crustless quiche and healthy breakfast sandwiches. However, I headed to the pharmacy department, you can find the protein shakes and protein bars in the aisle with protein powders, shakes and other miscellaneous items meant for enhancing your health. Special K products were easy to spot with their bright colors and brand labels.

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There are many flavors to choose from, I’m a chocolate girl so I chose a box of Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Meal Bars and a case of Rich Chocolate Protein Shakes. I would have loved to try the Chocolate Mocha flavor (because what’s better than chocolate AND coffee flavors?) but they were out of that particular flavor.

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The protein bars are delicious, it’s really like a candy bar! The inside is a crispy rice bar with peanut butter and then it’s coated in a smooth chocolate. I was so worried about feeling sick after eating one, because normally sweets are not good for my tummy in the mornings. However, after eating this I felt satisfied and ready to start the day. I still felt slightly queasy (but let’s get real, it never really goes away!) but I was able to function. I cleaned my entire kitchen this morning without getting sick!

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The shake was good as well, I like to mix mine with ice to make a more smoothie consistency. The shake is a little thick straight out of the bottle for me, but the taste is really good.

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Don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes below for a chance to win a Kroger gift card and head over to Special K Fortify to learn more about their amazing products!

#NourishWhatsNext Special K at Kroger

Travel Gift Basket Ideas for Mom

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone.#BestSummerMemories #CollectiveBias

Traveling during the summer is something most families do, kids are out for school, the weather is warm and who doesn’t love a family road trip?! My mom and I are taking my kids on a road trip to visit some of our family in Ohio, originally we planned to go next month, but with our big move coming up we had to postpone until Fall. Even so, I decided to go ahead and make my mom a travel basket for Mother’s Day. These are great for short trips, long trips, or even to take down to the lake or the beach! And what better way to fill these baskets, then with the new Coca-Cola™ “Share a Coke and a Song” labeled bottles?!

Travel Basket Ideas for Mom

I found the “Share a Coke and a Song” labeled Coca-Cola products at CVS, you can easily find them in the grocery refrigerated section (which is where I purchased mine), or usually CVS also has a small refrigerated section at the front of the store. I love that at CVS you can find all of your travel needs quickly and easily. Check out the Best Summer Ever Deals at your local CVS. Buy 2 20oz bottles of Coca-Cola products for $3! 

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For this basket, I grabbed two Coca-Cola bottles and two Diet Coke® bottles. For my mom, I filled the remainder of the basket with her favorite chocolates, gum, snacks and some wet wipes for her hands.

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For our actual trip, I’ll make a similar basket and add a homemade CD filled with some of our favorite travel music as well! My mom and I both love to listen to music on our road trips. We may not always listen to the same kinds of music, but you better believe that no matter what we are listening to, you’ll find my mom dancing and singing while she’s driving! I can remember driving to and from Ohio on trips as a kid and my mom blaring AC/DC, Shania Twain, and Michael W. Smith…. could those be ANY more different? But that’s what she likes! If you’re a music lover like my mom and myself, be sure to download the Shazaam app (available on most devices, including Apple and Android devices) and download your Coca-Cola Share a Song.

Some other ideas for your travel baskets for mom could be:

  • Gift Cards for restaurants – you have to eat a good meal at some point!
  • Gas Cards – especially with the up and down prices of gas, a little extra gas money can go a long way!
  • GPS – If your mom is anything like my mom, she is NOT good with directions, a GPS would definitely help.
  • Meds – This could include anti-nausea, motion-sickness, pain relievers, etc. Road trips are fun, but sometimes you find yourself with a headache or getting nauseous on curvy roads. This is a MUST in my opinion!
  • Satellite Radio Subscription – this is a great gift for any music lover.

What other items would you include in your travel basket for Mom? And don’t forget to Share a Coke and a Song with your mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, be sure to let them know how much you love them! They are doing the HARDEST job!

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How to Manage Mountains of Laundry

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

 

As a growing family of five we always strive to find the most affordable and reliable products to use for our family. Whether it’s paper products, meats, diapers, or laundry detergent. Laundry detergent is a big one, it can get super costly to keep our house stocked with a good quality detergent to clean the many clothing items, linens, and more that we dirty up. I probably do 10 loads of laundry a week, that’s including diapers most of the time. But usually it’s more than that. My kids know how to get dirty, super dirty.

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We have a sorting area in our master bedroom hallway where our laundry room, master bath and closet are located. I have a laundry sorter that has three hanging baskets, a trash can and two plastic hampers. The hanging baskets are used for whites, delicates (I sort these when we are ready to wash), and towels. The trash can is for diapers, the white hamper is for adult regular clothing and the teal hamper is for the kids regular clothing. I gather linens on linen day and just put those right into the washer and place fresh sheets on everyone’s beds. When I do blankets (I do this maybe every other month), I just dump those in the floor outside the laundry room so I can do those after the linens. Same thing with the bath mats, I just gather those when I’m ready to wash them!

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Our laundry room is pretty small, but I have a nice little shelf above the washer and dryer where I can keep my detergents and stain removing products. I also have a trash basket for lint and tags from new clothing.

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How do I keep up? I created a schedule to help me keep up with the amount of laundry we have, this doesn’t mean I don’t ever get behind because really… nobody is perfect! But if I stick to this schedule as much as possible I don’t get nearly as behind. I’m including a free printable for you to use as well! Who doesn’t love FREE?!

So basically I wash our cloth diapers 3x/week and then I split up our delicates, whites, the kids’ regular clothing, the adult regular clothing, linens, towels and bath mats up into different days. Typically, this splits it up enough that I’m doing between 2-3 loads a day, usually 2. Whites typically only get done every other week, as we don’t usually have enough for a full load. Delicates I can sometimes combine the kids and the adults as we typically only wear delicates on Sundays for church and when we go out (our delicates include the kids nice shirts, dress pants, dress shirts, dresses, tights, ballet attire, etc.). There are some weeks when we aren’t home every day, so I squish those laundry days into another day or I put it off until the weekend. But having a schedule seems to help keep Mt. Laundry to a minimum!

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You can click the image above to download the PDF schedule that includes cloth diapers are click HERE to print the PDF schedule that does NOT include diapers.

Because of the amount of detergent we use, we try to find the most efficient and affordable detergent to purchase, the best way to do this is by shopping at Sam’s Club! You can save a lot of money by purchasing products in bulk. I was shocked at the low prices you can get by not only buying in bulk, but also buying the Sam’s Club branded items. The Member’s Mark® Ultimate Clean Liquid Laundry Cleaner is just as good, if not better, than some of the leading brands you can purchase.

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The best part is that you can purchase Member’s Mark laundry detergent at a fraction of the cost of the leading brands! And right now, both the Fresh Scent and Paradise Splash are $2/off with Instant Savings! They are easy to find on the Laundry/Home Care aisle at your local Sam’s Club. I found them on the inside aisle AND on the end caps at both ends of the aisle!

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These Member’s Mark detergents are formulated to provide a top of the notch cleaning of your laundry and helps improve the brightness of your colors AND your whites. My favorite aspect is that they created their detergent bottles so that they can easily set on your shelf, you just use the handy little cup attached to the nozzle and dispense as needed! It’s perfect for our tiny little laundry room. If you use a HE machine, no worries, it’s HE safe and can be used in any machine.

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Do you have an efficient way to keep up with your mountains of laundry? Head on over to the Sam’s Club website and leave me a comment below  telling me what you think about the Member’s Mark Laundry Detergent!

 

Family Movie Night with Hotel Transylvania 2

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

Family Movie Nightwith Hotel Transylvania 2

Our family really enjoys having movie nights, we have started making Friday nights our official family movie night. We make fun finger foods or pizza, gather around the living room and watch a great new family movie. This past weekend we watched Hotel Transylvania 2! This is such a cute movie, all of us (young and “old”) had a good laugh watching the antics of Dracula and his friends.

Before our movie night began we ran to Walmart to purchase our movie, we also picked up a 6-pack of Coca-Cola, Orville Redenbacher 6 pack Movie Theater Popcorn, these adorable containers of M&M’S® Chocolate Candies (we made a skillet cookie with these, you’ll find the recipe at the end of this post) and of course, our movie! Walmart has a great display for Hotel Transylvania 2, you can buy it in a few different formats.

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Our snacks and drinks were in various other places throughout the store, the M&M’S® Chocolate Candies were the last item we picked up – conveniently located at the cash register!

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I mixed and baked our M&M’S® Chocolate Candies Skillet Cookie and prepared the popcorn and we were ready to watch our new movie! It doesn’t take much to have a fun family movie night. You just need a few simple snacks, some yummy beverages and a great movie – and the best part? Quality time with your significant other and children!

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Don’t forget to purchase your M&M’S® Chocolate Candies so you can make this super yummy skillet cookie for your movie night!

M&M'S® Chocolate Candies Skillet Cookie
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (+1-2 Tbsp for greasing skillet)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 (3.5oz) containers of M&M'S® Chocolate Candies, divided
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet with 1-2 Tbsp butter. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine your flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl (I use my stand mixer so I use the bowl attachment for that) combine brown sugar, white sugar, butter and peanut butter. Blend 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg to wet mixture until combined.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients (low speed) until just combined - don't over mix!
  5. Stir in 1 full container (3.5oz) of M&M'S® Chocolate Candies, then ½ of the second container. Set the remaining ½ of the second container aside. Stir in peanut butter chips.
  6. Scrape cookie dough into your greased skillet and top with remaining M&M'S® Chocolate Candies. Bake for 25-30 minutes until it achieves a golden brown color. The edges should be nice and crisp and the center soft and cooked through.
  7. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and serve warm. Enjoy!
Have your own family movie night, we highly recommend Hotel Transylvania 2. You can find some more great ideas for your movie night HERE, and purchase all four participating products you’ve seen in the above photos at Walmart between 12/22/15 and 2/2/16. Submit a photo of your receipt displaying all four products to uploadreceipt.com/movienight to receive a $10 Vudo movie code* by email! *While supplies last. Limit 1 per person.

What’s your favorite meal or snack to make on movie nights with your family? Share them by commenting below! I’d love to hear from you!