How To Start a Family Giving Back Tradition

After Thanksgiving is over, the holiday season kicks into full gear. We quickly start thinking about finding the perfect gifts. We often get so caught up in buying things, and making lists of what we want, that we forget about the true joy of giving. You can change this by starting a giving back tradition with your family. Use this holiday season to think about giving back to the community and helping those in need. By getting your children involved with this, you can teach them the importance of giving to others.

Make a plan to give to others in a way that works for you and what your family is comfortable with. You may be able start a new tradition for you and your family that will bring new meaning to the Season of Giving. Here's some ideas to get you started:

Is Doctor Strange Worth the Cost of the Ticket?

Okay, so, in general I always like a superhero movie because it's a chance to remove yourself from real life and just be entertained. I especially like the Marvel universe that Disney has created with the intertwining story lines. So, it was probably a given that I would like Doctor Strange. What I wasn't expecting is just how much I would like it!

Doctor Strange is a complex character that has to make a journey from arrogant rich selfish surgeon to a much deeper spiritual being. It's a Marvel movie, so it tells this story with fun and humor, and it certainly has it's share of action and excitement, but it's just a little deeper than some of the other Marvel movies we've seen. Doctor Strange becomes part of a group of spiritual defenders like they say where Avengers protect the physical world, they protect the spiritual.

They practice magic like sorcerers, and are able to change and bend reality in a mirror world which makes for a visually stunning film. I'm not a big fan of 3D, but Doctor Strange is worth putting on the glasses. And, it simply must be seen on the big screen to get the full visual effect of seeing the New York City skyline folded in on itself. Don't wait to rent Doctor Strange; go see it in the theater. It's worth the price of the ticket.
Tweet: I'm not a big fan of 3D, but Doctor Strange is worth putting on the glasses. http://ctt.ec/54z35+

Much of the movie was filmed on location in Nepal, so you get a chance to see another part of the world. While on location, Benedict Cumberbatch said he was inspired to give back to the children there. You can help do that by taking a picture in your favorite hero pose. See the video below for more details or go to the Hero Acts website.

Vegetable Chili with Kale and Quinoa Recipe

Fall is here and the weather is turner cooler, even here in Florida. The cooler weather is perfect for a day outside, hiking, and exploring all your favorite local travel spots. After a day of adventure, it's nice to come home to a nice hot comfort meal, especially a healthier version that's quick and easy.

This recipe for Vegetable Chili with kale and quinoa is the perfect way to get the comfort of chili with a healthier twist.



Vegetable Chili with Kale and Quinoa
 Makes 8 to10 servings

·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         ½ medium onion, chopped
·         1 carrot, peeled and chopped
·         2 celery ribs, chopped
·         1 medium zucchini, chopped
·         1 small yellow squash, chopped
·         1 red bell pepper, chopped
·         4 ounces sliced mushrooms
·         3 (15-ounce) cans HORMEL® chili
·         ½ cup quinoa
·         2 cups chopped fresh kale

Directions: In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat. Sauté onion, carrot and celery 10 minutes. Stir in zucchini and next 3 ingredients and sauté 8 minutes.  Stir in chili, quinoa and kale and simmer 15 minutes.


What's your favorite twist on chili?

Queen of Katwe Provides a Positive Look at Life in East Africa

Life is a collection of small moments that like pixels combine together to create one beautiful image. If one pixel is placed differently, or one moments is changed the picture, the life, is completely altered. Disney's Queen of Katwe gives a glimpse at one girl's life and how it was forever changed with the moment that she discovered the game of Chess.

There are several words to describe Queen of Katwe: inspiring, heartwarming, entertaining, but the most important one to me is, real. The movie simply tells a good story. There aren't any Hollywood twists, or special effects, this is just Disney getting back to story telling that is good for the whole family. Queen of Katwe is simple and delightful. Queen of Katwe has so many interesting characters that show that even when times are hard, kindness and positivity can rise to the top.


It also gives us a real view at the colorful life in Kampala, Uganda. The director has lived in Kampala where the movie was filmed, for 27 years, and the cast is all African. This helps to give us a glimpse at a culture that is often twisted to only show the dark side of poverty and disease. Queen of Katwe shows that poverty, but it also shows the love, strength, and fun that fills their lives. The story is filled with positive role models from the coach that teaches the children to play chess and encourages them to chase their dreams, to the mother that will do anything to keep her family safe, to the leading character, Phiona, that demonstrates her strength and tenacity through difficult times.

I left the theater feeling all the warm and fuzzies,with the end credit song (#1 Spice) stuck in my head, and a giant grin on my face. With my daughter currently serving in the Peace Corps in East Africa, it was nice to get a glimpse at what the world around her is like. It has also further enforced my desire to travel to see the countries of Africa and experience the vibrant culture for myself. Wanderlust has hit me hard! Hopefully more to come on that trip, very soon.


Bottom line, this is a good heartfelt movie that is absolutely worth seeing, no matter what your age. Oh! and make sure to stick through the credits for some extra fun including the song below.




Disclosure: I attended a free screening of this movie for the purpose of completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Five Tips For Choosing Your Next Travel Destination

When I get back from a trip, I can't wait to start planning the next one. It's like I need to have the next destination planned so I have something to look forward to, something to work for. With so many wonderful places waiting to be explored, choosing what's next can be a challenge? Blakely Trettenero shares her tips for choosing your next destination.

Your Boston vacation was great, especially that side trip to Salem to learn all about witch trials.
The Grand Canyon lived up to its name and orca watching off the San Juan Islands was breathtaking.
That was all in the past, though. Now it’s time to plan the next big excursion.
But with so many places to visit, how do you choose the right one?

Blakely Trettenero, a world-traveling chef who has visited more than 30 countries, says her advice is to leave nothing to chance, which is the approach she takes for her own travels.
“It would be fun to say I just close my eyes and throw a dart at a map,” says Trettenero, host of the Hungry for Travels (www.hungryfortravels.com) and Cooking for Bimbos (www.cookingforbimbos.com) websites. “But there’s a lot of planning and research that goes into every vacation.” When pondering where to go next, she recommends:

Bridget Jones's Baby is the Sequel You Didn't Know You Were Waiting For!

I didn't know that I even needed another chapter in the Bridget Jones saga, but as I watched the newest edition to the series, Bridget Jones's Baby, I realized that it was exactly what I needed.

Can you believe it's been 15 years since the first Bridget Jones's movie? I had to look it up. I watched the Bridget Jones's Diary recently, and it is still a good fun movie, and aside from some little fashion things, it still holds up, and makes for a great watch when you're having one of those "just let me stay in my jammies and wallow in ice cream" kind of days. Which, coincidentally is just the kind of day Bridget is having at the start of Bridget Jones's Baby.

It's Bridget's birthday, and the only guests at her pity party are some sad music and a pint of ice cream, but this is a much more mature Bridget Jones that has come a long way in the last 15 years, so she won't pity herself for long. In Bridget Jones's Baby, Bridget, (Renee Zellweger,) is now a forty-something London girl, with a successful career, that just wants to have some fun.  She has plenty of fun, until she finds out she's pregnant and isn't sure which guy is the father. That could put a little wrench into anyone's plans!


Songs of Positivity, Because We Need More Peace and Love

Music has always been an incredible force, one that soothes, heals, and uplifts. It is a medium in which many messages have been shared over the years. With all the violence and negativity in the world, we could all use some positivity and one place we can find it is in music. If music isn't your thing find positivity in travel, nature, family...look for it it's there. Sometimes we focus so hard on the negative in our world that we forget it is full of good, and sometimes you have to be the good that the world needs. Look around there is inspiration everywhere.


Here's some of the best songs of positivity that I'm listening to now.

ID Your Pet Day, Keep Your Dogs Safe

We spend a lot of time with our dogs outside in Summer. We do everything from trips to the park to road trips and just hanging by the pool. We know how important it is to keep dogs safe, and cared for in the hot dog days of summer. It is especially important to make sure your dog has a tag with an ID because with all the time spent outdoors in the summer, dogs are more likely to escape. The tag helps to make sure they are returned home. This is why the SPCA has designated July 1st as ID Your Pet Day.
  • A personalized ID tag is the best way to increase the likelihood your pet returning home. Make sure your pet is fitted with a collar and ID tag that includes your name and phone number.
  • Implanted microchips can serve as an important security measure to ensure that a pet is returned home in the case of a lost collar and ID tag.
  • Download the ASPCA Pet Safety App to access personalized instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances: ASPCAapp.org.


If you're traveling with your pet this summer, find dog friendly hotels worldwide.

Disclosure: This site uses affiliate links, which just means if you click on a link, we might make some money from the advertiser.

Summer Travels: Top 10 Road Trip Songs

When I think of the best road trips I've taken, I realize that they all have the same things in common; conversation, laughter, and fun music. I will never forget the road trip to the mountains when I heard my daughters in the back seat singing along to Faith Hill's This Kiss with their little voices full of heart they belted out "BISCUITS BISCUITS". To this day, when I hear that song I can't help but sing the lyrics wrong and giggle. It was a beautiful vacation and it was made even better with music.


I recently heard of a peer to peer car rental network, Turo.com, that is helping people make money by renting their own vehicles. I think this is a really cool concept and what struck me most is that many of the car owners are making playlists, and leaving CDs for the renters to enjoy music on their road trip. This got me thinking about what songs I would put on my road trip playlist. It took me awhile to narrow it down, because there are so many great songs that I love to listen to when I travel. I think for a road trip the music needs to be a nice balance of energy and mellowness; not too hard and not too soft. If it's too energetic it's hard to sit still, and if it's too mellow you'll just want to pull over and sleep. So, it was a struggle, but here it is: the top 10 road trip songs.


A Weekend Trip to Mall of America

Back in the early 90's, I heard about this mystical mall creature with 4 floors of shopping, an aquarium, and an amusement park all under one roof. An amusement park inside the mall! I knew that someday I had to go there and see it for myself. Last week that someday came. I went to the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.

As I walked past the Lego store and in to Nickelodeon Universe, I was instantly transformed into a kid again. This was a teenager's dream, so many stores to shop in, plus movies, rides, games, and oh so much more! Can you imagine growing up with this as your local mall hangout spot? Oh the fun!

5 Tips for Summer Travel With Dogs

Summertime is a great time to grab the leash and head outside. Take your dog hiking, head to the beach or even a road trip with your dog, you can enjoy all of these, just make sure you're following these 5 tips for traveling with dogs in the summer.


With school days coming to an end, temperatures rising, and vacation plans being made, there is no doubt that summer is upon us. Summer, is a great time to spend outdoors with family and friends, and it’s also a great time to grab a leash and head out for a trip with the dogs. I like to take my dogs on the occasional road trip, to the local dog beach, and to the coffee shop for their favorite treat; a cup of whipped cream.

No matter where you're traveling with your dog, whether it's weekend away or just a trip around the block, while you’re enjoying the summer with your favorite furry pets, keep these things in mind.

Water: Just like you get extra thirsty and can get dehydrated in the heat, so can your dogs, maybe even more so. No matter what you’re doing outside, make sure to have plenty of fresh clean water for both you and your dog. I suggest bringing a travel pet bowl to make it easy. Remember, if you do take your dog to the beach, that salt water is not any more drinkable for dogs than it is for humans.

Lunch at Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar, Disney Springs

We recently went to the newly named and revamped Disney Springs, (formerly known as Downtown Disney) for some lunch and shopping. We grabbed a small bite at the Indiana Jones themed Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar. This small bar is decorated with worldly items from Jock's many adventures including some pictures of our favorite snake hating archaeologist.


We enjoyed drinks on the deck overlooking the pond, but if your travel here is during hotter or rainier  it weather would be best suited for inside the hangar seating. Jock's has a great selection of specialty drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The "Cool Headed Monkey" is a refreshing fruity cocktail perfect for a hot Florida day. If you're looking to hold off on the alcohol, I recommend the Poisonless Dart, it's like a Shirley Temple with a twist.

Cool Headed Monkey, Anti-dote, Poisonless Dart

Let me tell you the food was delicious and the portions were big! I absolutely loved the wings, and the pretzels were the best I ever had.

Lao Che's Revenge, Spicy Asian sticky wings
Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar is great for drinks and small bites and we really enjoyed it. Something to keep in mind if you're traveling with small children: Disney has designed Jock's to have an old world dive bar feel so the food menu is not very extensive, and though children are welcome there isn't much for traditional kid's meal foods, so they may need to broaden their tastes a little; or just bring them a snack from somewhere else in Disney Springs.

A flight of pretzels with beer cheese fondue and spicy mustard.

P!nk Creates New Song and Video for Disney's "Alice Through the Looking Glass".

P!nk has a written a new song for Disney's new movie "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and it is quite wonderful. The video is designed to give you the feel of the film with whimsical style and typical P!nk flair. It's like a musical journey to a faraway land of garden tea parties, chess boards, and a touch of madness for good flavor. See the video for "Just Like Fire" by P!nk.












Disney's "Alice Through the Looking Glass" marches into theaters on May 27th.

How A dog's Story Can Teach Your Children About Life

I strongly believe that for as much as we do to give pets a happy life, they do so much more for us. In my house, our pets are an important part of our family. Just like any family member, they can sometimes be frustrating, but they enrich our lives so very much; I can't imagine life without them.

One common method parents use to teach children responsibility is pet ownership, where kids help feed, clean and generally look after pets.

As important as instilling a sense of responsibility is, there are many more lessons pets can teach us, says Cheryl Smith, a rescue-animal advocate who founded a non-profit that assists pets in need. Smith, a public defender, has cared for rescue animals since childhood and believes they can help humanity as much as humans help them.

“Our courtroom deputy found a scared and thin little Chihuahua, alone on the street; I had to adopt the little guy, who I named Oliver,” says Smith, who adds the incident was the impetus for her to write “Oliver’s Heroes: The Spider Adventure” (oliversheroes.com) and “Oliver’s Heroes: Two Paws Up.”

Oliver joined the rest of her six rescue dogs. Smith says the happy dog pack features the perfect characters for teaching the following life lessons.

• Acceptance of others, despite arbitrary differences: Humanity has bred dogs to suit a variety of purposes, resulting in an enormous diversity of physical and character traits. Despite the differences, most dogs have an innate ability to assemble into a pack. In Smith’s children’s book, when the group encounters different kinds of creatures, such as a polka-dotted and striped spider, the dogs judge the spider on its character and not its exotic markings.

• Overcoming fear, together: Oliver and his friends go places like the woods, which are unknown, unpredictable and scary to some. The dogs who are scared are reassured by those who are not, which is a great example for children who may fear the next grade level, or moving to a new town.

• The regular expression of gratitude: Anyone who has ever rescued an animal has probably experienced the gift of gratitude in return. These rescue animals tend to be more loving and are less likely to take for granted what’s given to them, such as love, food, shelter and company. It’s a great reminder for children to keep in mind as they mature.

• Now is a good time to have fun: Dog owners are constantly reminded of at least one thing – the time, and the time is always now to play catch, enjoy a treat or simply bask in the company of companions. Remembering that the time is now, and that now may be a good time to enjoy fun, is a lesson children may not want to lose as they grow older and take on more responsibility.



About Cheryl Smith
Cheryl Smith is a public defender who started a non-profit, Just The Place Inc., to assist in the care of pets when owners were experiencing difficult financial situations or environmental crises. She was inspired to write “Oliver’s Heroes: The Spider Adventure” (oliversheroes.com) after her courtroom deputy found Oliver, a dog who was alone, thin and scared on the street.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but this site does use affiliate links.

Prince and Dancing With Girl Scouts

Like many people, I was shocked and saddened to hear of the the death of Prince. I wouldn't call myself a fangirl, but I do have a great appreciation for his artistry and his contributions to music. As an 80's girl, I think Prince's music has been a huge part of my life's soundtrack. There was, "Little Red Corvette" and "Kiss" and I still break into a chorus of "Raspberry Beret" when I think of shopping at the Five and Dime; yeah my small town still had one of those when I was little.

Oh, and Remember when we actually thought 1999 might be the end of the world? So, naturally, we were going to have the most epic party to compare all other parties to and the Purple one realized the need for a theme song for those awesome parties. ♪Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999

Friends, Labels, and Drugs

Friends are a lot like drugs, they can solve many problems, make you feel great, sometimes even a little loopy, but sometimes even a good thing can have bad side effects. So, wouldn't it be easier if they each came with their own "friendship warning label" so you know what to expect. Because all friends are great, but some you can only handle in small doses.

For example, I have a friend who has a "never been a mother complex" you know the one that doesn't have kids, never wants kids, but wants to not only tell you how to raise yours, but also wants to mother you! I still love her, but sometimes I just need a break from her. So, because I know this, I know not to schedule a long day alone on an island with her because she would surely become shark food by the end of the day.

Another friend is the "lack of movement may cause drowsiness" she is a ton of fun, but if she's not doing something to keep her entertained, she quickly gets sleepy eyes, and the night will soon be over. So simple solution for this label, when we go out it's never just a bar to sit and chill, we have to go somewhere to dance and mingle.

Then, there's the 2 friends that are like drugs and alcohol, they just don't mix! After one night of drama with them together, I now make sure to give them there own time on separate nights!

So what should you know to be my friend? What's on my warning label? Well, I'm the friend that will never call, but I'll be there when you need to talk. I'll buy your birthday gift months in advance but forget to give it to you. I don't respond well to being told what to do, but I'm always open to new things. I will be the first to jump on stage to dance, and will try to drag you with me. I love music of all kinds, and I sometimes break out into song in the middle of our conversation. I'm a bit of a nerd with a love of books, unicorns, and exploring new places. I love hanging out with friends, but sometimes I just want to be alone, and if we're on vacation it will most certainly involve good food.

We have our strengths that make us great and our opportunity areas that make us unique. We should all own our little quirks because they make us who we are. It's our diversity that makes us interesting, and keeps our friendships strong. In friendship, be willing to compromise, but don't compromise who you are. Be yourself and wear your "warning label" with pride.

What would your friendship warning label say?

Wordless Wednesday, Take a Closer Look at the World Around You.

Life is an adventure, what will you discover when you see the world from a different view?



View from Franconia Notch, New Hampshire

5 Songs For Tax Day

It's Monday and it's Tax Day, not a great combination, but hopefully not as bad as it sounds. Hopefully, like me, you took advantage of the weekend and got those taxes done and done! Each year as my kids ages got higher, the tax refund gets lower. I'm happy that I'm still getting a refund, but I think it's time to face reality that with both my daughters out of college, it may be the last year for that. So, unlike that year the oldest turned 16 and I was surprised by the loss of the child tax credit, I'm gonna try to get in front of this change and make some adjustments because the only thing worse than paying the taxman is being surprised about paying the tax man. Ugh! Now, enough talk about taxes, let's let the music speak.

It's Music Monday, and this week is all about the hard work we do for the money we need. Here's 5 songs for Tax Day.



Celebrate National Pecan Day With Nonni's Biscotti and Enter To Win- EXPIRED

April 14th is National Pecan Day, and I'm happy to celebrate what is probably my favorite nut. Pecans are heart healthy and full of antioxidants, but most importantly, they are delicious! I like them raw, roasted, salted, in my oatmeal, toasted, and in desserts. I certainly don't need any excuse to eat desserts, especially one with pecans, but it sure feels nice to know that there is a delicious options with lower calories out there. I'm talking about Nonni's Turtle Pecan Biscotti!

Find out how you can win a box of your own.

Netflix Original "The Ranch" Delivers Comedy With Heart and Music

I didn't have much adventure this weekend, unless climbing my way out from under a pile of homework counts...no...yeah probably not. I did, however, find some time to binge watch a new Netflix show, "The Ranch". It's a good comedy series that is a little heavier on the drama side, but still with plenty of laughs. It's set on a cattle ranch in Colorado and has a real family feel to it, but heads up this series is not one for the little ones in your family. It's worth the watch and it has a great Country soundtrack' starting with the opening theme song sung by Shooter Jennings and Lukas Nelson.


"The Ranch" really highlighted the music as if the songs were characters themselves. I love when a director is able to do that and not lose the heart of the show. Here's just a few of my favorites from "The Ranch" Season 1.

April Fool's Day, A Bully's Dream

Ah, April 1st, the day for jokes, pranks, laughs,…humiliation, anxiety, and tears. Let’s face it, April Fool’s Day is a bully’s dream and a victim’s nightmare.

As a child, I felt such relief when April Fool’s Day fell on a weekend. Since, there was no school, there were no kids lying in wait to prey upon me. I would be able to go about my day without worrying about what lied behind every corner. There would be no bra straps being popped (I developed early so my bras were always a target of interest.) There would be no ketchup packets squirted in my direction, no rubber bands shot at my face, and no signs stuck to my back. I could breathe freely. But, if April Fool’s fell on a school day there was no way to escape it. I knew that the big prank was waiting for me and I was a ball of nerves because of it.

Gwen Stefani's New Album is Like Reading Her Personal Journal.

Relationships are difficult, especially at the beginning and end, but having to deal with both heartache and new found love while in the public eye, that must be exceptionally challenging. When Gwen Stefani went through a divorce and found a new relationship in Blake Shelton, the whole world watched. Now, with her new album, This Is What The Truth Feels Like, we get a glimpse into what Gwen was feeling about it all.


This album is much like reading a personal journal. The lyrics are full of raw, sometimes chaotic emotions. It is exactly what I imagine going through a divorce, losing a great love, while realizing that love is developing elsewhere would feel like. It is all there in song, every little emotional, sometimes irrational thought. This is real true human emotion. While Gwen may have been holding it all together on stage, it is clear that she was being torn apart on the inside.

Happy First Day of Spring!

 I hope your day is filled with happiness and cheer because the first day of Spring is here!

♪Good morning Mister Sunshine, you brighten up my day♪
(Bee-Gees)


Self-Love Songs By Women for Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month, and this is the first Monday in March, so for today's Music Monday, let's hear from the ladies. We have a lot of women to thank for all that has been accomplished. They wouldn't have achieved a thing without a strong confidence in what they were standing up for and a even stronger belief in themselves. The same is true for all of us even now, if we want to achieve anything we have to start with achieving self-confidence and that special inner power that says "I'm worth it."

If you're not already feeling the power that is women, these songs should help because they are all about loving yourself, which as Whitney Houston said is "the greatest love of all." Did you hum a little just now? I certainly did. Remember you have something to give the world, for that you are beautiful, so love yourself the way you are!

So let's see what some of the women in music have to say about loving yourself.











Have a wonderful empowered week!


The Cat's Meow Awards Recognizes Irresistible Moments and Gives Away Free Cat Treats

The focus tonight may be on the Academy Awards but all the fun is happening at the Cat's Meow Awards. The awards feature nominations from more than 25,000 cat enthusiasts with CAT-egories like "Best Cat Cuddle", "Wild Cat Card", and more...

With The Cat's Meow Awards you not only get to see all of the cute cuddly cat moments, but you can also submit your irresistible cat moment and get free Meow Mix Irresistible Cat treats.

Watch the Best Kitty Hijinks nominees below, then head to irresistiblemoments.com/ to submit your own cat moment and get your free cat treat while supplies last.

A Sweet Treat Made with Raw Protein and Greens

I know that I need to eat more veggies. I know it. I know all the health benefits of eating the greens, I know that it will help me lose weight, have more energy, be healthier, blah blah blah. I know all this stuff, but knowing that just doesn't make them taste any better. Now, I'm not going to stereotype that it's all veggies, because it's not; there are some veggies that are good, it's just not those leafy green ones that I'm supposed to be eating more of, and it's certainly not kale!

I tried kale chips, and kale smoothies, but I just couldn't get past the bitter taste. I really think there's some marketing genius out there that has convinced the world that they are supposed to like kale, so they think they do, but it is not good. So, what's a girl with anti-kale taste buds to do to get all the veggie nutrients I need? Thankfully, Garden of Life has given me an answer, a sweet sweet answer!

Garden of Life makes a variety of really good healthy products, but this one is my favorite because it solves my problem and it tastes awesome!


That's right, you heard me...RAW Protein and greens tastes awesome! Now, you know it's hard enough to find a protein powder that tastes good, but now you've thrown in greens too...I thought for sure it would be bitter and pasty, and gross. But RAW Proteins and greens is actually really really good, and it can be used in so many ways.

RAW Protein and greens comes in 3 flavors, Chocolate, Vanilla, and Lightly Sweetened. They are all good.

Hubby likes the chocolate with almond milk and peppermint.

The Lightly Sweetened is perfect for baking. Just add a scoop or 2 to your favorite muffin or bread recipe, and you've added some protein and veggies to your sweet dessert.

My favorite is the Vanilla. I love it blended with raspberries, bananas, and almond milk or throw it in to the blender with some ice, almond milk, and coffee for a great start to your day. It's super yum!

If you want a super fun no bake snack packed full of energy from proteins and greens, give this recipe a try:

Peanut Butter Protein and greens bites


In a large bowl, mix the following ingredients, then form into small balls, chill and serve anytime you need a sweet energy treat.
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 2 scoops Vanilla RAW Protein and greens
  • 1 cup raw oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flax meal
  • 2/3 cup coconut flakes 
  • 6 tbsp chocolate chips


I'm not an expert on nutritional requirements, so for all the information on how this product is gluten free, organic, vegan, and just plain healthy, head to gardenoflife.com  Plus, they have tons of healthy recipe ideas and other great products!

Enjoy!




This product was provided to me for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated, but by posting, I am entered to win a prize. All opinions expressed are my own. This site does use affiliate links.

Music Monday, Deadpool, White Rabbit, and Duckie.

It's Monday and that means music. This week, I want to talk about music in movies. I love a good movie, and I especially love a good movie with a great soundtrack. In fact the music of a movie is often one of the first things I notice. Music can set the tone for the movie, will it be serious, fun, sad; just like our week, we can set the tone by kicking it off with some fun music.

First up, a fun song highlighted in Deadpool, which is a super fun movie. If you haven't seen it, go, it's worth it, but seriously leave the kids at home...but, um get someone to watch them, geesh, don't be that kind of parent! :) This is Shoop by Salt-N-Pepa.


One of my favorite Disney Characters is the White Rabbit. I love the Jefferson Airplane song White Rabbit. P!nk is an awesome performer, so I'm happy to see it all come together in the upcoming movie Alice Through the Looking Glass. P!nk has recorded White Rabbit, and I'm excited to say that she'll be heading into the studio to record an original song for the movie.


This leads me to another good song from a great movie. Pretty In Pink is 30 years old this year. Can you believe it? Wow! If you Leave was written for the movie when the studio decided to change the ending that originally had Andie living happily ever after with Duckie! So glad they changed that one!



Wordless Wednesday, Cat Helps Make the Bed.

My cat loves to "help" make the bed. It makes putting sheets on take a little longer, but it sure is fun to watch her go crazy.
Marilyn the cat in a tunnel of sheets


Do your pets like to "help" around the house?

Performances to See on Tonight's Grammy Awards

It's President's Day, and it's Music Monday! Music Monday is like Valentine's Day for music, only no one is left feeling excluded because we love all kinds of music. How perfect is it that the Grammy Awards are on tonight, on Music Monday? So perfect in fact that it is our topic of the week. The Grammy Awards always have great performances. Some of the performances we'll see tonight will be Lady Gaga with a tribute to David Bowie, and a tribute to Glen Frey by the remaining Eagles members.
Also, tonight, We'll see Gwen Stefani create a video LIVE for her new song "Make Me Like You" which will be on her upcoming album. This will be part of Target's #MoreMusic campaign.



I'm also looking forward to performances from the following artists:

I adore the Alabama Shakes, and I'm happy to see their album, "Sound and Color" is up for Album of the Year. I'd love to see them take this award home.

Adele is back and with a start to finish fabulous album. "25" was not eligible for nomination this year, but I know she'll give us a great performance!

Hollywood Vampires is Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry. They will be doing their first televised performance, and this I have to see!


Along with Alabama Shakes, I'm also hoping to see awards go to, Ed Sheeran, Meghan Trainor, Maroon 5,  Wiz Khalifa, and Elle King.

Do you watch the Grammy Awards?

"The Finest Hours" is Glorious, Intense, and Just Wow!

In the movie The Finest Hours we see the brave service that the United States Coast Guard performs, we experience the agony of waiting and not knowing what will happen, and we see the suffering of the ship-wrecked crew hoping to be rescued. It all comes together in an intense immersion into the action on screen.

Two weeks after I got married my husband left for boot camp, and I was left waiting at home for letters of his well being. When he graduated boot camp, he was stationed at the United States Coast Guard Base in Miami, FL. Hurricane Andrew had just devastated the area, so I had to wait until our baby was born to be able to join him. A couple months later, our baby girl was born. He tried his best to make it to us in time, but she just wasn't waiting.

During our time in the Coast Guard, there would be many times when I was at home just waiting while he was doing search and rescues, drug busts, patrols, and hurricanes; I can't forget hurricanes. When a hurricane came through they took the ships out so they wouldn't get smashed against the dock, and they stayed on them! This left me waiting at home while a hurricane passed through, wondering if he was going to be okay. That's the life of a Coast Guard wife; there's a whole lot of waiting and not knowing. I felt it all again while watching The Finest Hours.

This movie is amazing! To see this incredible story of the most daring rescue in U. S. Coast Guard's history, and to know it actually happened is just awe inspiring. The Finest Hours takes place in 1952 when a massive nor'easter struck New England. The storm pummeled towns and tore apart ships including 2 large oil tankers, one of which the S.S. Pendleton, is left with one half of its hull still afloat with 30 plus men still aboard. The Finest Hours tells the story of the S.S. Pendleton's engineer, (Casey Affleck) and his incredible ingenuity and courage to fight to keep the ship's remains afloat long enough to be rescued. By chance, the broken ship is spotted, but due to other rescues in the area, the Coast Guard station is only left with one option; to send a small wooden boat with a tiny crew out on what is sure to be a suicide mission.

From the first moment this movie grabbed a hold of me and wouldn't let go. I was dragged in by the love story, and held tight by the action. The Finest Hours is intense! The special effects of the broken ship and the massive waves, the writing, the acting, it is all wonderful; and all worth a trip to see it on the big screen. I saw it in 3D which I'm normally not a fan of, and while I still don't know if it's worth paying extra for, there were some cool effects that may make it worth it for you.

Chris Pine is good as the rule following Bernie, Captain of the rescue boat, and Holliday Grainger is both beautiful and strong as his girlfriend, but the one who steals the show is Casey Affleck. Affleck's role as the ship engineer is superb, leaving me to once again say that in the Affleck family, Casey is the one with the true acting skills.

Needless to say, I truly enjoyed The Finest Hours. It is a nice recognition of the work done by the men and women of the U.S.C.G., and a great reminder of how trivial life's little problems are. There is a great world out there with people fighting to make it a better place, and a great many people supporting them and waiting to know that they are safe.









Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but I attended a free screening of the film for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and I'm under no obligation to endorse the film. I just really like it.

Care Bears and Cousins Return For Another Season

I have a confession to make, I'm a huge Care Bear fan; have been for more than 30 years.  I've got stuffed Care Bears, and vinyl Care Bears, and I can't get enough of the Care Bears belly match game. Care Bears are cute, and colorful, and they represent all that's important in life; friendship, fun, and caring. Imagine how much the world would suck without caring...ick, not a world I want to be in! That's why I'm proud to be a #ShareYourCare Ambassador!


I have an equal amount of love for the Care Bears Cousins. They show that it's not only bears that know how to care. I first saw them in The Care Bear Movie as a kid, and I've loved them ever since. I was excited last year, to see that the Care Bears and Cousins were back with a whole new series of fun and caring. All my old favorites were there, including Lotsa Heart, BraveHeart, and Cozy Heart. 
Now, I'm happy to tell you that they are back again this year with 6 new episodes on Netflix. Season 2 of Care Bears and Cousins will premiere on February 5. Watch it on Netflix/CareBears to see all the fun, music, laughter, and of course lots of caring good times.


And, if you want your own Care Bear to snuggle with while you watch, you can now make your own Cheer Bear or Tenderheart at Build-a-Bear Workshop. Hmm that may be a nice way to show your love to your favorite Valentine.


Follow on Twitter and Instagram @CareBearsFriend and tune into Netflix for the Season 2 premier of Care Bears and Cousins.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, but by posting, I am entered to win a prize. All opinions expressed are my own and I am under no obligation to recommend any product or service.

Music Monday, S.O.B. Give Me More of This Music!

I love finding new bands to love! About a month ago, I discovered Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, when I heard an awesome song and had to Shazam it to find out more. The song is S.O.B. and it is the song that has brought Rateliff onto the radio. He's been making music for awhile now, but sometimes it takes that one song with the right sound to get people to really notice, and that's what it did for me. Now, I can't get enough of that song and his many others, so for Music Monday, here's a sample of some of the  Nathaniel Rateliff songs that I love.





What music are you listening to this week?


5 Favorite Songs from Glenn Frey

What a rough week it has been with sad news abound. It was only a week ago that we lost the great David Bowie, that was followed up by the great loss of the wonderfully talented Alan Rickman, and now Glen Frey has passed away at the age of 67. Unlike my first kiss with David Bowie, I don't have a story of when I discovered Glen Frey and the Eagles; in fact, it seems like their music has just always been there for me.

My father and I always sung along to whatever music was playing on our car rides together, and that was often rock music including The Eagles, and later Glenn Frey's solo work. That may be why I feel such an attachment to music, because there wasn't a whole lot of conversation happening between Dad and I, but we could always agree upon good music. Thanks to Glenn Frey for contributing so much to music and to my car rides with Dad. He leaves behind quite a soundtrack of songs that trigger memories for many of happy times.

Here's some of my favorite songs from Glenn Frey and The Eagles.









May you all have a wonderfully blessed week.

My First Kiss With David Bowie and 5 Favorite Bowie Songs

As I heard of David Bowie's death this morning, I couldn't help but think of my time spent with him. I was 10 when I was first introduced to David Bowie. It was a chance Christmas gift, most likely on the bargain shelf that scored me the "Tonight" album. It wasn't at all what I wanted. Heck,  it wasn't the album I asked for, or even the right band, but I couldn't get enough of it.  I listened to that cassette tape over and over and since none of my friends were listening to Bowie, I felt like I had some secret knowledge of this great artist that no one else knew.

As I grew older and discovered more Bowie music, I would learn that "Tonight" wasn't his best work, and that it wasn't an album he was very proud of, but like a first kiss, it will always be special to me. Because of David Bowie, I learned to look beyond what was popular and step outside the norm, to see the world from a different perspective. Just like music, life doesn't have to fit into a box.

David Bowie wowed me with his creativity and unique style, not to mention all that glitter! He wasn't afraid to put himself out there and be as he envisioned himself. I didn't love all his music, but I loved that he wasn't afraid to make it. He was and is an inspiration, a reminder that we all have have something to give, and only a short life to live.



In honor of the late David Bowie, here's some of my favorite Bowie songs.



"We can be heroes, just for one day."









May your week be full of music, art and all things sparkly!

Be Brave and Make This Your Year!

A new year is here! It's a chance to start fresh, to set new goals, and to take steps to make a positive difference in the world. I am no longer the person I was when I started 2015, and neither are you; with each day we grow from the challenges we have faced. We are stronger and wiser from all that we have accomplished, so we must make 2016 our year.

Whatever it is that you want for yourself, and whatever positive change you want to see in the world, you can make happen. This year be brave; speak up, have fun, be happy, be kind and grow yourself. Make this your year!

I love this song by Sara Bareilles, "Brave".