Gluten Free Pumpkin Hand Pies are a great treat to make ahead of time for fall festivities. Whether you’re bringing them to the company pot luck, or to Thanksgiving dinner, hand pies are the perfect portable dish!
Rachel and I plan on buying a house in 2015! In the meantime, we are studying our credit like it’s a final exam. In this sponsored post on behalf of Credit Karma™, I will tell you all about my experiences.
We are looking at homes that have an acre (or so) of land, so we can have chickens and a big garden… basically a mini (mini!) farm. We’d love to have our own farm-fresh eggs to eat each morning! While we were pre-approved for a $150,000 loan, we know we want to cut our expenses, so we are looking at houses that are listed at $100,000 or less. A bigger house would be wonderful, but realistically speaking, we’d like to retire at an early age – so now’s the time to get our ducks in a row!
Getting our ducks in a row means improving our credit score so we can purchase a house with a great interest rate on our loan. We don’t have bad credit, but we do have NO credit – which is just as bad when it comes to getting a loan! Thankfully, we’re able to use free tools to improve our credit score before we buy a house.
If you haven’t yet, start tracking your credit on the Credit Karma™ website.
Even if you aren’t looking to buy a house, Credit Karma™ is a great solution for everyone, because everyone should be educated on their credit situation. Monitoring your credit with a free service like Credit Karma™ is the best way to prevent identity theft from getting out of control if it should ever happen.
Credit Karma™ offers a large variety of tools and resources to help you fully understand your credit data, what impacts it, and how to get back on track if you don’t like your credit score number. But how can the tools and resources Credit Karma™ offers help you achieve and maintain good credit?
Good question! Credit Karma™ wants you to take care of your credit and finances, and they will help you do so. They never ask for your credit card information, and you can check your credit score any time you’d like.
You can get a full credit report as often as once a week, and their free credit monitoring gives you peace of mind when it comes to things like identity theft. Credit Karma™ will send you alerts when your credit limits change, and for many other reasons – just opt in to the ones you’d like to receive. You can also view it all on your phone, which is super convenient.
The Credit Score Simulator has helped us a lot. For example, if we get a credit card with a $1000 limit, Credit Karma™ shows us that our score could potentially go up 50+ points if payments are made on time and it’s utilized properly.
Sign up for Mobile Alerts on your phone, and Credit Karma™ will send you an alert when there are any changes made. For example, if you’re using too much of your credit card limit, it will tell you that your utilization rate is high. If you close an account, that will be listed as well.
When talking to the lender about our credit and house buying possibilities, they said you really don’t want any recently closed accounts on your credit report. If you want to buy a house within the next year, work on opening new credit lines and then use 10-15% and leave the rest alone. Make your payments on time, and your score should go up.
There are over 50 different types of FICO scores, but Credit Karma™ does a real score, which gives you a better overall look at your financial credit health. If you’re worried about accuracy, my credit score as listed on Credit Karma™ was just a bit lower than the one that my lender gave me. I asked many of you about your experiences with Credit Karma™, and almost all were positive – and very accurate.
It only takes about 5 minutes to sign up and get started! View your credit reports and utilize their free tools to educate yourself on how to improve your credit. We all know how to set up a budget, we all know we need to improve our credit… now it’s time to actually do it.
Did you know?
— 33% of Americans have never checked their credit report
Instead of just throwing numbers at us, Credit Karma™ makes everything easy to understand. Each section has a purpose, and there aren’t tons of ads flashing on the screen. While there are premium products (like credit card offers), it isn’t spammy or salesy at all. The offers are tailored to fit your situation. The pie chart, color graph, and number line are all very beneficial for visual learners like me!
This DIY fabric tutu is pretty simple to make and is super versatile.. you can literally make almost any fabric into a tutu for your costume! Check out my other post for more DIY Halloween Costumes!
Huge thanks to Taylor from The Tailored Mama for letting me borrow her gorgeous Audrey again.
I’m not going to be sappy about having a teenager, or my baby turning 13, or about how she used to be an adorable little weirdo but is now a beautiful young lady.
I’m not going to cry.
I’m just going to say how thankful I am that I have Nell as my daughter. She really is amazing.
A few years ago, Nell decided she wanted short hair. Other kids her age weren’t quite ready for a girl with a “boys” haircut. She stuck with it anyway.
She was bullied, relentlessly. But she turned it into a positive experience by raising money to donate to anti-bullying organizations.
There are many other things she’s accomplished, and she’s made me proud in many ways… but without stalling any longer, I’ll show you what she wanted for her birthday: dyed hair.
This is what Nell looked like when she woke up on her 13th birthday! We had a great day – Rachel woke her up by singing Happy Birthday to her, and even let her have dessert for breakfast. I flew in from an event I was doing, and got here before she got home from school. We went out to dinner and had a great time. It was a very simple birthday, but exactly what she asked for.
Mexican Hot Chocolate is one of my favorite drinks ever, so writing a sponsored post for Fresh & Easy that features my recipe is perfect. I hope you enjoy this delicious drink as much as I do!
As you know, Arizona doesn’t really get too cold. The “cold” months are December and January, but even then it’s hoodie weather at best. Making hot chocolate in October seems pretty silly considering it’s still in the 90s, but I miss Fall and knew this would help me pretend that it was cold and dreary outside like Midwest falls always were.
As most of you know, Rachel lusted after a GoPro for months before I finally bought her one. Then, she insisted on going hiking and swimming and all kinds of crazy stuff to put it to good use! Too bad I wasn’t wearing it when I encountered that HUGE rattlesnake on my hike! The GoPro HERO is 12x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates, which is perfect for catching all of the action – right as it’s happening.
Rachel captured many of our experiences in San Diego. In fact, the first time she had ever seen the ocean was on our trip this summer – and GoPro caught it all!
GoPro HERO features high-quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, plus 5MP photos up to 5 frames per second.
GoPro HERO4 Black: the most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.
Best Buy is the home of the latest cameras and camcorders, including the full line of new GoPro cameras, plus a broad assortment of accessories. GoPro cameras make perfect holiday gifts for everyone, from kids and teens, to gadget gurus. GoPro’s new line of cameras allow you to beautifully and authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life. Learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.
GoPro HERO4 Silver: the first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling The camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.
If you’ve ever wondered how to stop bullying, or how to prevent bullying, this is a great post to read with your kids. My daughter, Jenelle, has experienced bullying first hand and wants to share some tips with other kids on how to stop bullying.
I’ve been bullied before, and it got out of hand. The teachers and principal did nothing, and it just kept getting worse until I had to move schools.
I think stopping bullying is easiest when bullying is prevented. It is so much easier to fix a problem before it starts then after it’s out of control. However, if you’ve already been dealing with bullying, I have some tips to help it stop.
How to Stop Bullying
Avoid the bullies. You’ve seen them around school, you know who the bullies are. Avoid them, even if they seem nice! If you’ve seen them bullying others, you don’t want to be friends with them anyway – eventually, you’ll become their target.
Find some friends. Bullies like to target loners, so if you have one or two friends that you hang out with, you’ll be less likely to be a target for bullies.
Hold your head up. Bullies lack confidence, and they prey on others that seem to lack it as well. If you can’t avoid the bully, look her in the eye and tell her to stop. Just straight up tell them “stop it”, and walk away. After watching the video I made two years ago, I realize I’m not as big of a target now because I’m more confident. I still have my fair share of bullies to deal with (it is middle school after all), but I feel better prepared because of my experiences in the past.
Don’t make it worse. While being firm and telling the bully to stop is a good idea as long as you’re not in physical danger, sometimes you really do have to walk away so you don’t make things worse. If you fight back, the bully will just get angry and you could also get in trouble for fighting back.
Stop worrying so much. If you worry about the bullies all day every day, you’re going to be sick to your stomach (trust me, I know from experience), and they’re going to be able to tell that you’re scared. Focus on more positive things, like hanging out with friends after school or going home and watching your favorite show on TV. Don’t give the bullies the satisfaction of taking up your time by worrying about them.
Tell someone. You don’t want to be called a snitch, but sometimes you do have to tell someone. Whether it’s your teacher or your mom, talk to them about it. They won’t confront the bully right away – they will tell you how to handle the situation. Or, if it’s too bad, they will take care of it. If you notice the bullying happening often or getting worse, you really do need to get an adult involved. My mom went all the way to the news stations when others did nothing – so don’t give up hope! Someone will advocate for you.
Help other bullying victims. When I was bullied a few years ago, I started making jewelry and selling it so I could donate money to anti-bullying foundations. This helped spread the word that anyone could be the target of bullies, and that we are all going to stand up against bullying – together.
Anti-Bullying Resources: Books to Read
If you haven’t yet, watch my video. It’s kind of shaky – sorry – but my mom recorded it while I was dealing with a lot of bullying issues at my old school. It is hard for me to watch now.
Do you have any tips for avoiding bullies or helping it stop?
In 2006, I was a single mom of two little girls and pregnant with a third. I was living in a trailer in a shitty trailer park, driving a shitty car and working 2 shitty part-time jobs. The only thing I was good at at the time, was being a mom… and I felt like I was failing miserably at that.
Every time my kids had dirty faces because we were saving water until the one time a day we could all take a bath real quick. Every time my kids wore torn pajamas to bed because I couldn’t afford a new pair for them. Every time I had to share a blanket with them because I couldn’t afford my own. Every time they longed for a baby doll they knew we couldn’t buy. Those were all times that I felt like I was failing as a parent.
In the grand scheme of things, I did a good job with it all. I mean, the girls didn’t know how broke we were. They were still little, and after all, they enjoyed sharing a blanket with mom and having a camp out in the living room. They didn’t know we were sleeping in the living room because that was the only room with a space heater. They didn’t know that the reason we shared blankets is because the others were hanging in the hall to keep the cold air out. They didn’t know any of it, and I’m thankful for that. They still remember our “sleepovers” and “camp outs” as if they were fond memories – and for the girls, they were.
For me, they were not fond memories. I remember crying myself to sleep, snuggling them as tightly as I could to share my body heat so they wouldn’t be cold. I remember wondering if my shitty boss was going to pay me this week or if I was going to have to figure out which other utility could be shut off before it was the end of the line for us. For me, it was absolutefuckinghell and I’d never wish it on my worst enemy. Well, maybe on a few of them… but not their kids. Definitely not their kids.
Summer came, and things were looking up. The girls were staying at an in-home daycare during the day, so I could work my job. It wasn’t quite as shitty now that I had a new boss, and at the end of the day it was an actual paycheck so I tried not to complain too much. I kept to myself mostly those days, but my friends didn’t know how bad my situation had been – or how bad it would get.
There are many details of this story I’m leaving out, because even my family members don’t know why I ended up homeless to begin with, but we’ll just say this — it happened, and it sucked… but it wasn’t as bad as you might think. I wasn’t on the side of the road, holding a sign and begging for money. I wasn’t going hungry – even on the shitty days, we had food stamps. Food stamps were literally our saving grace. That is probably one of the reasons I put on so much extra weight – food was the one thing I could control in my life.
The girls and I ended up in a homeless shelter in July of 2006. I was 7 months pregnant. It was a new shelter and we were among the first to stay there. It was a maternity shelter, and each family had their own room. The building itself was a nursing home that they converted into a maternity home, so it was nice. Like, really nice. There was a parlor with several comfy chairs, and a huge living room (with a huge TV!), and even a play room for the kids.
There was also a computer room, which is where I officially started finding jobs to do from home. While the other moms were surfing Myspace and hitting up dating rooms, I was learning how to write resumes and then I sold them to job seekers. While at the homeless shelter, I “sold” templates – usually exchanged them for child care or chocolate milk or movie time – and then I would “teach” them how to fill them in if they weren’t sure. I read up on which words were best to use, how to word things when you literally had no experience, and taught them how to dress for their interviews.
So, here I was, pregnant and “homeless”. It’s a technical term – I didn’t actually have a home of my own, but I also wasn’t living on the streets so I hate to use the word “homeless”. But, it is what it is.
I got fired from my one job when they realized I was pregnant. The other job was too far away to drive to while living in the shelter, so I had to quit. I was making a few bucks by selling resumes, but nothing spectacular. I started posting on mom forums and ended up getting promoted to a paid moderator position. Again, just a few bucks, but it started to add up.
I had Sapphire at the end of August, and literally the week I came home from the hospital, I was in the computer room, working. The staff noticed my drive, and put me in for consideration for a new program the county had. It was like Section 8, but a little different. It had stricter requirements, and it was basically like a scholarship program but for housing. Things moved quickly, and it only took a few months before we were moving out! I got my own condo – it was amazing, and still the nicest place I’ve ever lived, to this day – and things started to look up once again.
A church helped me furnish my condo, and the Head Start right up the street not only took my kids while I searched for a job, they offered me a job and I accepted! I was making $10 an hour, which was more than I had made in the past. It was great! My job was within walking distance, so even when I had car problems, I could make it to work.
The one bad thing about the housing program was that it was limited. So, after we had spent four months in the shelter, we had a limit of 2 years in the condo with adjusted rent. The real rent would be like $1000. I was working from home, and bills were getting paid, but not $1000 a month rent getting paid. You’d think that would be plenty of time to get on your own two feet, but as a single mom with three kids (and never a dime in child support), it was difficult. I did it, but things were tight. We moved to a smaller place once our time was up on the program, and since then I’ve worked hard to teach the kids how important it is to give to people less fortunate – even when it might seem like we don’t have a lot ourselves.
My story isn’t one that is god awful. I wasn’t shivering out in the streets, my kids and I weren’t sleeping in a car (though that is a story for another day, because I have had to do that), and we never went hungry. Not everyone is so fortunate. Even in our worst of days, we were more fortunate than most of the homeless population in our own country – not to mention other countries that have it much worse.
I wanted to write this to show you guys that, you know me. You know I’ve never done drugs, or even smoked a cigarette(!), you know that I’m a good mom and you know I’m a hard worker – and I still ended up homeless. If it can happen to me, it can happen to many good people – and it does, every day.
If you skipped that huge long 500000 word story above, please just read this below. Our homeless population grows every day, and while it might seem ideal to drop a dollar in the plastic cup they are holding, or dig out some spare change, you can make much bigger changes with that money. Visit JustGives for more ideas.
What to Give Homeless People, Besides Money:
Also, don’t forget to donate to shelters! The highlight of my week was when these ladies would bring in all their old magazines and newspapers. We would read them, do crafts with them, and even do practice job interviews with the listings in the “Help Wanted” section.
P.S. The best thing you can donate to a shelter is your time. Consider it.
Everyone has an opinion on what it takes to write the perfect blog post. ProBlogger is full of an unlimited amount of knowledge that will have you well on your way to crafting an amazing one, and if you haven’t started following Pat Flynn yet, you need to. However, sites like theirs are so amazing that they can sometimes be overwhelming. So, I’m here to break it down for you… how do you write the perfect blog post?
Truths About the Perfect Blog Post
Size matters. Oh yes, it definitely does. Too small and it’s over in 30 seconds… too big and everyone is scared of it. You have to find a happy medium. Most writers will suggest that your post stay around 500 words. I struggle to stay under 1000 some days, but you definitely want to be over 400.
Strong titles are a must. Depending on where we discover an article (Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc), titles and images are the things that make readers decide whether they’re going to click or not. Having a strong title is non-negotiable.
It needs to be relevant. I blogged about Kirk Cameron a while back – because he pissed me off – but it was relevant at the time because he was in the news. If I blogged about him today, I’d get maybe 1/10th the amount of clicks on my post because, well, nobody cares about him right now.
It’s gotta be engaging! If you’re not entertaining your readers, they’re going to find another blogger that does.
Include some useful information. While everyone loves a mindless read once in a while, most people will visit your blog in hopes of reading something useful – educational even. Give it to them!
It’s all about traffic. Okay so it’s not all about traffic, but obviously we want the result of the perfect blog post to be the perfect amount of blog traffic, right? Read up on 99 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic, as that’s a great jumping off point.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
Is it scannable? Some people (like me!) just speed read through everything, scanning articles for a few seconds and moving on. If something is really interesting, we’ll stick around for a few extra seconds – but that’s it. Use bolds, italics, bullet points, and headings to keep the article easy to read.
Does it solve a problem? Because it needs to. In this day and age of instant gratification, your blog posts really should solve a problem – even if that means the problem is the reader is cranky and just needs a laugh.
Is it well-researched? If your post goes viral, people are going to call your bluff real fast. So, make sure your blog post is legit and well-researched before hitting “publish”.
Does your blog post have grammatical errors? Proofread that shit, yo. There’s nothing that annoys me more than constant grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Of course having a few here or there usually isn’t a big deal (I’m the queen of starting sentences with “and” or “but”) – having them all over is.
How to Write a Perfect Blog Post
I’ve never done the half-width images like this infographic suggests, but I might try them some time. It’s all about providing the best experience for your readers so they come back again and again!
What’s your best tip for writing the perfect blog post?
Parmesan Roasted Potatoes are one of my favorite side dishes. They’re easy to make, delicious to eat, and impressive when you bring them to potlucks. Check out the rest of my gluten-free recipes while you’re here, and please pin this recipe if you like it!
Parmesan Roasted Potatoes Recipe
1⁄2 Cup Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400*F.
In a small bowl combine the Parmesan, Garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
In a separate small bowl melt the butter. Dip the cut side of a potato in the butter.
Hold the potato over the cheese bowl and using a spoon (or your other hand), coat the potato with cheese.
Place cheese side down on a greased cooking sheet. You may want to place them on greased parchment paper for easier release after cooking because they do tend to stick a bit.
Bake at 400*F until the cheese is browned and crispy and the potatoes are tender, 25-30 minutes.
Depending on how large your potatoes are they may need to go a little longer. Serve hot, with an amazing dipping sauce.
Fall is approaching quickly, whether we like it or not! Well, who doesn’t like fall?! The sights of beautiful colors, the sounds of crunching leaves, and best of all… the smells of yummy Fall Drinks! Don’t forget your Vitamix to make the awesome smoothies.
25 Fall Drinks and Smoothies
1. Fancy Hot Chocolate
Can’t get enough? Check out my other post: 131 Smoothie Recipes!
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Samsung fan. I had an iPhone back in the day, and it was fine – but since then I’ve had Samsungs and have no interest in going back to an iPhone. With that being said, this post is in jest – I know how upset you iStalkers can get. ;)
And then they’re all …
So you’re online shopping for some gifts, but aren’t sure what to buy? These are items I’ve been sent to try out. I’ve shared (short) thoughts on each, as well as links so you can purchase said toys! I’ll add more thoughts as the kids play with them, and I’ll add more toys as they’re received. Bookmark this page and check back from time to time! If there’s anything you’d like me to review, leave a comment and I will get to it ASAP!
Lalaloopsy – Various Toys, Various Prices & Appropriate Ages
Lalaloopsy Girls 9″ BEA SPELLS -A- LOT Doll – Color Change Hair (Retail $26.99)
My thoughts: We love Lalaloopsies. The tinies are not something we’d play with – Adam is 2 and I wouldn’t want him choking – but the Color Me and Bea Spells-A-Lot are definitely keepers for us! I’m not too keen on the “diaper surprise” types of dolls, but I know some kids LOVE them.
VRÜM – Ages 3+, $49.99
I got Adam the TMNT VRUM because, well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are favorites in our house! At first, he wasn’t really sure what to do with it. We don’t have any ride-on toys in the house and though he has them at home, they’re more obviously ride-ons (with big wheels showing and such). This looks kind of like a little toy box or a bench, with small wheels attached.
It’s not just a ride-along toy, it also serves as storage! So, it kind of is a toy box. Though, when you open it, everything kind of falls out. So he usually just keeps a few books and cars inside.
See it in action in this review:
My thoughts: This toy is cute and functional, but I don’t see myself spending $49.99 on it.
Cat Paw, Ages 0-100, $9.99 #CatPaw
Like Cat Paw on Facebook for hilarious video updates!
See it in action in this review:
My thoughts: I don’t really like cats, but I think this could be a funny toy for the practical joker.
Join The Boxtrolls Cardboard Challenge, where kids create and build Boxtrolls crafts! Using cardboard boxes as the main resource, kids will have a blast participating in this contest. Check out this list of cities, dates, and times for the hosted events in the Boxtrolls Cardboard Challenge.
The mission of the Imagination Foundation is to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world.
Imagination Foundation Event Dates:
Boston, MA: Saturday 9/20 from 11am-3pm at the Framingham Food Truck Festival
Even if you can’t attend a live event, you really must see The Boxtrolls in theaters!
Contest dates: 8/25-9/29
How to enter the contest:
Participants can share their creations via Twitter or Instagram by tagging their photos with the hashtag #TheBoxtrollsCC to enter
Grand Prize: one (1) Grand Prize winner will be picked on September 29th and receive an “Imagination Box” for creative play, including an Apple iMac, an iPad Air, Microsoft Office, The Print Shop and Kid Pix softwares, a $500 DiscoveryStore.com gift card, and a $1000 Michaels Arts & Crafts gift card.
Release Date: 9.26.14