I had to taste Fit to believe it. And you should, too.

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

You have to taste Fit to believe it Title #TasteFitKitchen [AD]

Around this time last year, I shared my newfound love for the fabulous flavors of STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ meals. So it’s been a year and I’m still a big fan of their meals. I love the convenience. I love the flavors. I love the variety. In my mind, there really wasn’t anything else that could be done to improve upon  STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ meals, except maybe add more amazing flavors.

And that’s exactly what they did!

New STOUFFERS FIT KITCHEN varieties #TasteFitKitchen [AD]

STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ has added four new varieties and I couldn’t be more excited!

I’m a busy guy – especially in the Summer. If I’m not at work, I’m usually running one of the boys to their soccer or football practices. Or I’m running the girls to their meetings. Or I’m trying to help manage all the housework that comes with being a family of six. I don’t have time to waste.  STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ is so convenient, it takes the chore of finding an easy, filling lunch off my plate.*

They’ve outdone themselves with the additional flavorful meals. These new options are made from wholesome ingredients with no artificial flavors. They’re also packed with protein, containing at least 25 grams of protein in each meal. The new varieties come in these great flavors:

  • STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ Teriyaki Chicken
  • STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ Chicken Poblano Enchilada
  • STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™Sweet and Smoky BBQ Beef
  • STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ Roasted Red Pepper Chicken

These new varieties are available at your neighborhood Walmart, so I quickly made my way to a nearby store and visited the frozen foods section.

In Store Collage #TasteFitKitchen [AD]

I have to say, I was more than a little excited to try these great new flavors. But I wasn’t going to take anyone else’s word for it. I wanted to taste Fit to believe it. Again. So I grabbed all of the varieties I could and headed home.

Walmart Bag #TasteFitKitchen [AD]

It’s comforting to know that you’re stocked up for the week and you don’t have to figure out what you’re going to have for lunch every day. These meals are so convenient. They’re chock-full of flavor and they’re ready in just a few minutes. They’re also the perfect fit for my lunch cooler.

Fit Kitchen in lunch cooler #TasteFitKitchen [AD]

You can keep up to date on all of the latest great STOUFFER’S® creations by following their social platforms:

STOUFFERS FIT KITCHEN Teriyaki Chicken #TasteFitKitchen [AD]

Can I just say that the new varieties have lived up to the hype? I love the flavors – especially the Teriyaki Chicken and the Sweet and Smoky BBQ Beef. But you shouldn’t just take my word for it. You really should taste Fit to believe it! So head on over to your local Walmart and give the new varieties of STOUFFER’S® FIT KITCHEN™ a try!

Which new flavor are YOU looking forward to trying?

 

7 ways to make laundry more pleasant

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

7 Ways to Make laundry More Pleasant - #TryMembersMark

Can I be honest for a moment? I’ve never really been a fan of doing the laundry. I know that doesn’t necessarily single me out as odd or unusual. In fact, I can’t think of anyone I know who actually enjoys doing the laundry. But it’s true.

When I was in college, I dreaded lugging my clothes down to our dorm’s basement to the laundry/weight room. I procrastinated as long as possible, which probably made things worse in the long-run. After college, my appreciation for doing the laundry never really improved. I think it’s because the job never stops. Ever. As soon as you’re done folding that last load of laundry, you know the dirty clothes are going to start accumulating again. It’s a never-ending cycle and it’s half-tempting to just wear the same outfit every day for a week just so you can have a small break from having to do the laundry again.

7 ways to make your laundry more pleasant #TryMembersMark

It’s tedious. And the amount of laundry that has to be done seems to increase exponentially with each member that is added to your household. Now that we’re a family of six (including three teenagers), that’s a lot of laundry to tackle. And since I’ve taken on the role of stay-at-home, homeschooling Dad during this season of life, the bulk of the responsibility for managing household chores has fallen onto my shoulders. And that includes the laundry.

I’ve discovered rather quickly that you really can’t avoid doing the laundry when you’re a family of six. The clothes aren’t going to wash themselves, unfortunately. And if you procrastinate, it spirals out of control in a hurry. So instead of dreading the chore of doing the laundry, I’ve decided to find some ways to make the never-ending cycle of sorting, washing, drying, and folding the laundry a little less dreadful. Here are 7 ways I’ve discovered to make laundry more pleasant.

1. Use a quality laundry detergent

If you’re spending all this time doing laundry, you want to make sure the job is done right the first time. You can’t waste time re-washing clothes that should’ve come clean after one wash. It’s imperative to use a quality laundry detergent. And if you can find a quality detergent at an affordable price? What’s more pleasant than that? That’s where Member’s Mark® comes in.

7 ways to make laundry more pleasant #TryMembersMark

We’re big fans of Sam’s Club. Being a member there means we can find great deals for our family. It’s our go-to place for stocking up on household goods.

Available in Fresh Scent and in Paradise Splash, Member’s Mark Ultimate Clean Detergent is specially formulated to get the job done, delivering excellent cleaning performance. It also helps brighten your colors and whiten your whites. The patented Ultimate Clean technology tackles tough stains in all temperature settings. Since it’s only available through Sam’s Club, it’s a great value for members.

Member's Mark collage

2. Keep things organized

“Dad! Have you seen my school ID?”

I probably hear this at least twice a week. Of course, this was usually approximately 30 seconds before the student of mine was supposed to be at the bus stop. So it threw us into a panic because someone would remember seeing it in the laundry room because it was in someone’s pants pocket. But it was never where anyone remembered seeing it. And with the bus barrelling towards the bus stop, we would find ourselves in a mad dash around the house in a vain attempt to find the missing student ID. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not the best way to start your morning.

Lost student IDs, loose change, medicine, unused gum, unwrapped candy – all of these things get stuffed into pockets at our house. And then they’re discovered while loading the washing machine. We used to just sit these random articles on top of the dryer, hoping someone else would eventually claim the miscellaneous items. But before someone could claim them, they would get lost again.

No more.

7 Ways to Make laundry More Pleasant - #TryMembersMark

Now there’s a specific place for all of these lost articles. I created a simple box to store all of my laundry equipment. There’s room for dryer sheets. There’s a space for the contents of everyone’s pockets. There’s a spot for a lint roller, because I can never find one when I need it. There’s also a great place to store my Members Mark laundry detergent. And I don’t have to worry about causing a mess by spilling the soap. It has a no-mess dispenser that prevents leaks and minimizes spillage.

It was really easy to make and I love having all of my supplies in one place. You can easily customize it however you’d like, but here’s the basics of what you’ll do.

What you’ll need:

7 Ways to Make laundry More Pleasant - #TryMembersMark
1 cardboard box (approximately 2’x1′)
box cutter (or scissors)
1 roll contact paper
1 roll dry-erase contact paper

What you’ll do:

  1. Remove flaps from top of the box. Please be sure to use proper cutting tool safety techniques. You don’t want to wind up like me when I misused an ax.
  2. On each side of the box, cut a line from the top corner to the lower corner, creating triangle-shaped sides to the box.
    7 Ways to Make laundry More Pleasant - #TryMembersMark
  3. Remove the front of the box, keeping approximately one inch at the bottom of the box. This will allow you to easily see and grab anything in the box, but it will also keep all of the items in the box.
  4. Cut out a 1 inch by 1 inch notch in the front lip of the box, allowing the no-mess dispenser to stick out of the box.
    7 Ways to Make laundry More Pleasant - #TryMembersMark
  5. Cover the box with your favorite contact paper, smoothing out air bubbles along the way. Be sure to keep the back panel free for the next step.
  6. Place a sheet of dry-erase contact paper on the back panel of the box. Be sure to hold on to your remaining dry-erase contact paper. You might want it for tip #7.

That’s it! It’s pretty easy and took me less than an hour to make, when all was said and done. Once you’re done, you can put a few small baskets or bowls inside the box. I like to keep our dryer sheets in the box, too. That way everything is in one place.

3. Make and keep a schedule

Like I said earlier, it’s far too easy to let laundry get out of control. You have to stay on top of it. And if you wait to do all of your laundry in one day, you’re going to spend all day doing laundry. And no matter how pleasant we try to make the laundry experience, spending all day in the laundry room is not my idea of a good time. In order to prevent this, it’s necessary to divide and conquer. Wash a different type of clothing each day.

Here’s one idea:

Monday: clothes – bright and dark colors
Tuesday: clothes – tans and grays (we have a lot of this color in our house)
Wednesday: towels and washcloths
Thursday: clothes – whites and delicates
Friday: bedsheets and blankets
Saturday: catch up on anything missed earlier in the week

Obviously, this is just a suggestion. You need to figure out what works best for your family. And if you have kids in sports, you’ll probably have to make room for their special sports-related equipment.

Of course, if you practice the next tip (#4), your schedule will look completely different. But that’s OK. The important thing is that you have a schedule and you keep to that schedule. Otherwise, things will just get out of control. And your clothes just might grow their own legs and try to walk away.
spilling out of dryer

4. Consider sorting by room instead of by color

I haven’t been brave enough to try this one yet. But here’s the reasoning: Why take extra time to un-sort everyone’s clothes into big piles of darks, whites, delicates, etc., only to turn right back around and re-sort everything? Simply keep all of the clothes from one room together and wash them together. Once you’re done washing, drying, and folding, they go right back into the basket that they came from.

This makes total sense to me in theory. It eliminates what might be unnecessary middle steps. And I’ve put some of this method into practice. I generally wash one load of whites from a room and follow it by a load of colors. So each room generally has two loads of laundry washed when I’m washing from that room.

If this is part of your laundry routine, I’d love to hear about how it works for you. Please share your insights in the comments!

5. Listen to something.

When I’m outside mowing the grass, I’m usually listening to one or two of my favorite podcasts. When I’m doing the dishes and cleaning up around the house, I’m usually listening to a local sports talk radio station. When it’s time for laundry, I need to listen to something with a little more…oomph…to it. Depending on my mood, I have three different go-to playlists that I listen to while sorting, washing, drying, and folding the laundry (you can listen to them here, here, and here). So while my son is either doing schoolwork on his own or practicing soccer outside, I can plug in my earbuds and focus on the task at hand. It certainly helps make the chore go faster.

6. Pretreat stains as soon as possible.

The label on the Member’s Mark detergent says that after checking a hidden area for colorfastness, rub a small amount directly on the stain before washing. You want to do this as soon as you can. The longer you wait to pretreat a stain, the harder it is to get out. Believe me. I know this from experience.

7. Never forget your hangers again.

Need hangers

Has this happened to you? You have a shirt you don’t want to dry in the dryer. It could be for a multitude of reasons. You want to make sure a stain is out. Or maybe you’re afraid the fabric will shrink. Or the shirt’s care instructions say you should only line-dry it. Whatever the reason, there are times you want to hang up an article of clothing after running it through the wash. So you’re there at the end of the spin cycle, ready to transfer all of the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.

And you do exactly that.

You take everything that was in the washing machine and run it through the dryer. Even the clothes you really wanted to line-dry. It happens to the best of us. I promise.

I tried putting hangers on the washing machine itself, thinking that if I had to remove the hangers in order to get to the clean clothes, I’d remember to hang that amount of clothes. Unfortunately, the hangers accidentally find themselves on the ground sometimes. And then you’re back to putting all of the clothes in the dryer again.

Here’s what you do – remember the dry-erase contact paper you used for the box in Tip #2? Cut off a sheet of that and place it on the lid of your washing machine. Now you can write yourself a note. You know, something like, “Don’t forget to hang up your your favorite shirt!” or “3 items to hang” or something like that.

You can store your dry erase markers in the handy-dandy organizing box. And you’ll never forget to hang up an item of clothing again. How great is that?

Your turn!

I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving your laundry experience. I’m always looking for new ways to improve my methods. What laundry tips do you have? And while you’re at it, go ahead and try Member’s Mark Fresh Scent or Paradise Splash. Let me know what you think.

Want more? Check out Walmart Family Mobile

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

Our growing family uses more of everything. Including data. #DataAndAMovie

We’ve been home with our new son for almost a month now, and I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised at how well things have been going. Sure, every day has its share of awkward moments, but we get through them. And we’re growing through those awkward moments as we navigate through our new normal as a family of six.

One thing that has surprised us about adding a teenage boy to our family is how much more we need of everything. The amount of laundry has increased exponentially.We go through an insane amount of milk and juice each week. And, over the last month, I think I’ve flipped more pancakes and scrambled more eggs than I did during the entire year last year. OK. I might be exaggerating just a little bit. But I think you get the point. Continue reading “Want more? Check out Walmart Family Mobile”

These Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats are out of this world!

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

Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats #FoodAwakens

The Star Wars™ franchise evokes some pretty strong emotions for me. One of the first movies I remember watching in the theaters was one of the films in the original trilogy. I remember the drama, the flashing lights, the roar of the giant spaceships, the funky aliens, and the intense battles on other worlds. The larger than life story that unfolded on the big screen captivated me in a way that no other film has ever come close.

I was already a big fan. I loved the Star Wars™ toys. I would play for hours with my neighborhood friends. One of my favorite things to do was to turn the space under our kitchen  table into a huge base for the good guys. It was safe in there. And we could plot the final push against the tyrannical forces of evil.

A perfect base #FoodAwakens

I think it’s safe to say that the kitchen table was the perfect base for the good guys. It could serve as an ice cave, protecting them from the harsh elements of a frozen planet. Or it could easily convert to a giant spaceship, headed to meet the enemy head-on. Or it could also become a base in some forested terrain with giant trees that provide a canopy of protection over the heroes as they hide from their foes.

While growing up, the perfect morning for me would have begun with an hour or two underneath the kitchen table, preparing my base for battle. Then I’d probably listen to the Star Wars™ storybook on my little record player in my room. Then the galactic battles would begin and I’d play with my Star Wars™ toys for the rest of the day. Or maybe my friends and I would go outside and re-enact one of the climactic battles outside. I would only slow down in time to eat some breakfast. For breakfast of choice? Why, Cookie Crisp, of course. Finding a toy inside the cereal box would have been the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake.

Free toy in Cookie Crisp #FoodAwakens

This is an exciting time for our family. Like many dads who grew up on a steady diet of Star Wars™ films, books, costumes, toys, and Saturday morning cartoons, I faithfully did my duty and raised my kids to be fans of the same cinematic universe. So we’re all counting down the days until the release of the next chapter in the saga. Continue reading “These Cookie Crisp Asteroid Treats are out of this world!”

3 signs that Bella might be too bright for her own good

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BrightMind #CollectiveBiasBella Close Up #BrightMind #ad

Well, 30 days on the Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formula (plus 7 days of transitioning to the new food) have come and gone. And it’s clear that Bella really likes her new food. And I think we’re starting to see some changes in her alertness.

Purina Pro Plan #BrightMind #ad

That’s a very good thing. Because that’s the purpose of Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind. It was designed with older dogs in mind. And of the 87 million dogs in the US, it’s estimated that 44 per cent of them are seven years old or older. So there’s a large population of “Man’s Best Friend” that can benefit from the Bright Mind formula. And right now, if you spend $10 on any Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog or Cat Food* at PetSmart by October 4, you can save $10 on your next Purina Pro Plan Dry Food purchase of 14 pounds or more, on or before November 1 (*subject to availability. Transaction total is after discounts and before taxes). That’s a great deal!

Bella was already a pretty smart dog. In many ways, she was already too smart for her own good. Sometimes, she winds up getting herself into some trouble because she was a bit too smart.

Here are 3 ways Bella might be too smart for her own good:

Bella at the top of the steps #BrightMind #ad

 

1.) Bella is an alert watchdog.

She sits atop the steps whenever someone leaves and patiently awaits that person’s return. And if she hears any movement from anyone – human or dog – outside, she’ll bark out the window until she has successfully scared away the potential intruder.

2.) Bella has “trained” us to feed her in a special way.

Bella loves to eat. And she especially loves to eat the Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formula. Of course, she can’t merely eat her food out of a bowl. That would be too simple.

That’s right. Bella insists on being hand-fed her food.

Mihret feeding Bella by hand #BrightMind #ad

And not only that. She wants us to throw it to her.

Throwing food to Bella #BrightMind #ad

Although this makes Bella’s dinner time last twice as long as it really should, it’s a win-win situation for us. When Mihret feeds Bella, she’s able to get in some extra occupational therapy in by picking up the individual pieces of food. And Bella gets some extra exercise by chasing down the morsels.

Like I said, it’s win-win.

3.)  Bella is an expert at hiding bones.

Bella loves rawhide bones. In fact, she loves them so much that instantly tries to hide her bone whenever you give her one. We don’t have any other dogs, so I guess she’s afraid the kids are going to steal it from her.

So she wanders through the house with her bone in her mouth, whimpering at the top of her lungs until she finds the perfect hiding place.

Bella hiding her bone #BrightMind #ad

 

More often than not, it’s buried between the cushions of one of our couches. I’ve also found bones in our closets and hiding under piles of dirty clothes in the Laundry Room.

As you can see from the picture below, she’s an expert bone hider. It’s really hard to see that bone in the couch cushions (unless you know to look for it).There is the bone hiding in the couch #BrightMind #ad

In fact, Bella’s so good at hiding her bones, that she forgets where she hid them! And then she whimpers and whines as she searches the house in a desperate attempt to find the bone she had just buried.Bella looking for the bone she just hid #BrightMind #adIs Bella really too smart for her own good?

No.

But I’m glad we’re able to encourage her to be mentally sharp with Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind’s enhanced botanical oils that promote attention, trainability, and memory.

 

Effortless Apple Nachos for an effortless meal

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

Apple Nachos Recipe #EffortlessMeals #ad

I don’t know what it’s like at your house, but Fall is the season of controlled chaos around here. Well, I hope it’s controlled. Our three kids are enrolled at three different schools and their events seem to be stacked on top of each other. I’m working two jobs and Christy’s job requires a lot of prep at home. Homework demands, doctor appointments, and church commitments keep us on our toes. And in our free time, we’re usually taking Aiden to and from something football related. Yes, our lives are hectic. Sometimes it even feels like Christy and I are expected to be in three different places at the same time. In the midst of our family’s hustle and bustle, we still try to make sharing a meal together a top priority. That’s why I’m glad Walmart has effortless meals that are quick and easy. They’re the perfect meal for busy families like ours. Continue reading “Effortless Apple Nachos for an effortless meal”

Aly, Bella, and Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formula

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

Bella Close Up #BrightMind #ad

It wasn’t meant to be…

Nine years ago this Fall, our family walked into a local animal rescue shelter in Upper East Tennessee, determined to bring home a dog named Bella. Christy and Aly had been there earlier and they had fallen in love with this beautiful, gentle giant of a dog. As we all walked in to meet Bella for the first time.

As we entered Bella’s cage to meet her, a family walked in with a leash. They had just adopted her and were taking her home. We were sad. I think Aly was pretty close to devastated. They already had a connection with this dog and we were looking forward to  having her join our other dog, Diego, as part of our growing family. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

Perfect timing.

As we walked around the rescue shelter, wondering what to do next, Aly watched a family bring in an adorable 10 week old puppy. She was white with some brown spots. Nobody was sure what breed she was. Maybe some type of beagle/pointer mix?

The details really don’t matter that much. Because Aly was instantly in love. As soon as the family left the building, we made a beeline to the volunteer who was working that evening and instantly began the paperwork to adopt this precious little puppy.

We named her Bella, in honor of the Bella we were originally planning on adopting. We left home that night, fully intending on bringing a Bella home. It just wasn’t the Bella we were expecting.

Puppy Bella

The photo above was taken shortly after we brought her home. Just look at that face! Who can resist those legitimate puppy dog eyes? We instantly fell in love with our Bella. And Aly has considered her to be a sister since Day One. And their personalities really do mirror each other. It’s kind of spooky how much they’re alike sometimes. These two have a very close bond. They have very similar spirits and temperaments. It’s almost like they’re soul sisters.

She’s growing up like everyone else.

Bella’s definitely not a puppy anymore. In fact, now that she’s older than 7 years old, she’s considered a senior. Now that Bella’s older, her nutritional needs are changing. Like any other family member, we want to give her what she needs to remain healthy. And providing the proper nutrition is pretty important. The experts at Purina  have discovered that a dog’s brain chemistry begins to change significantly. This change can have a pretty big impact on a dog’s memory, awareness, and decision-making. That’s why Purina has created the Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind for adults. Their formulas were created with senior dogs like Bella in mind. Owners who include Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind as part of their dog’s daily diet may see an improvement in their dog’s memory, attention, and trainability.

#BrightMind available at PetSmart #ad

We want the best for our dog. After all, she’s kind of like family. So we went to our local PetSmart to give this new formula a try. Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind includes enhanced botanical oils that promote mental sharpness in older dogs like Bella. Some owners have seen improvements in their dogs’ mental sharpness in as little as 30 days. That’s pretty remarkable! So we wanted Bella to give it a try.

Purina Pro Plan #BrightMind #ad

Because changing dog food can cause unnecessary stress on a dog’s digestive system, it’s important to take a few days to transition to a new dog food. For Bella, most of her diet consisted of the original dog food with a few bites of Pro Plan Bright Mind mixed in. Each day, we increased the amount of the new food while decreasing the amount of the old food. By the end of the week, she had transitioned completely to the new Bright Mind formula. Transition to Purina Pro Plan #BrightMind #ad

It might sound like that was a lot of transition, but it really wasn’t. It only took a few extra seconds to mix the food. And it was worth that extra effort to ensure a smooth transition for Bella’s digestive system. After all, she’s like family to us. And we want to do what we can to care for her properly.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Aly already has plans for Bella to be an integral part of her bridal party if she gets married somewhere down the road. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Aly and her “soul sister.”

 

A relative’s switch to bluPLUS+ e-Cigs

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. Readers must be 18 years of age or older. All opinions are mine alone. #bluPLUS #CollectiveBias

A relative's switch to bluPLUS e-cigs

We have a relative who is tired of smoking cigarettes. She’s tired of the expense. She’s tired of the mess. She’s tired of smelling like smoke everywhere she goes. Our family is happy to help her make the switch from cigarettes to bluPLUS+ e-Cigs. Because we’re also tired of the mess. And we’re tired of the smell. Everyone in our household welcomes this change and we want to do whatever we can to help support her as she makes the switch.

blu PLUS+ e-Cigs Xpress Kit Close up

It’s pretty easy to buy bluPlus+ products. You don’t even have to leave your home. You can buy them online with ease. And that’s pretty important for us. We’re able to help provide this relative with a regularly updated monthly supply of vape tanks. What’s a vape tank? It’s the part of the e-cig that holds the flavor. It provides the most enhanced vapor and flavor available. You can find out more information about their tanks by clicking here.

When you order from the website, you have access to nicotine strength (anywhere from Non-Nicotine to High) and flavors that are not available anywhere else. It is a personalized shopping experience. The digital store also offers exclusive discounts and sales that are only available online. And when you sign up for the blu Nation Rewards program, you’re eligible to earn some pretty neat stuff. And you don’t even have to make a purchase to participate. You can earn points by reading specific articles or connecting your social accounts.

Ordering blu PLUS+ e-Cigs online

We’re starting our relative off with the bluPLUS+ Xpress Kit. It includes a long-lasting rechargeable battery and two flavor tanks. It also includes a USB charger so you can quickly recharge your e-cig’s battery while you’re on the go.  For a limited time, the kit is also bundled with a free pack of flavor tanks.  This means the bundle contains $30 worth of product and is currently available for only $14.99, while supplies last.

blu PLUS+ e-Cigs Xpress Kit charging

In addition to the online store, there are several other ways you can keep up to date with how blu is continually improving the e-cig experience. You can like their page on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram (@blucigs) and Twitter (@blucigs). If you want to hear what others are saying about bluPLUS+, this Pinterest board is a great place to look.

I’m glad we’re able to help our relative make the switch. With bluPLUS+ e-Cigs, we’re able to provide her with a smokeless experience that feels and tastes good. Our family welcomes this alternative to the smelly, ashy, expensive lifestyle she has been living.

blu PLUS+ e-Cigs Xpress Kit wood

7 must-have apps for international travel

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Tips4Trips #CollectiveBias

7 Must-Have Apps for International Travel #Tips4Trips #ad #cbias

As mentioned earlier, a lot of moving pieces finally came together at just the right time in just the right way in order for Christy to be able to meet “W,” the teenage boy we are in the process of adopting. Late Sunday night/early Monday morning, I drove Christy to the airport. Nearly 18 hours later, she landed in Ethiopia. There were times where I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to pull the whole thing together. With my full time job, Christy’s responsibilities at her school, and taxiing the kids to and from sports practices, church activities, and camp, it just felt like too daunting of a task to get together all of her necessities plus a bag full of donations in less than two weeks’ time. I honestly don’t think we could have done it without our unlimited talk, text, and data/web from Walmart Family Mobile.

Ethiopia or Bust #Tips4Trips

If you’re looking for the lowest priced unlimited plans with access to a network that covers over 280 people, Walmart Family Mobile is the place you should look first. Their Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data service plan starts at $29.88 a month for the first line. In addition to unlimited talking and texting, you also get access to up to 1G of 4G LTE data per month. Plus, they have a variety of phones available at some pretty incredible prices, including the Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro for only  $64.88.

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to this link or your local Walmart for current pricing.

#Tips4Trips Store Collage at Walmart

While we’ve taken several vacations in the States, I think it’s safe to say that we’re no world travelers. And we definitely haven’t made a habit of jet-setting around the globe. So when it was finally decided that Christy was going to make this trip by herself, life became a bit more hectic. And life was already hectic with the kids’ activity schedules.

We had travel agents to call. And social workers to call. And our adoption agency to call. We had to make sure my work schedule was arranged in such a way that I could be home as much as possible. We had doctors to call. We had family to contact. We had to collect items – diapers, wipes, educational supplies, DVDs – that we were going to donate to the Care Center. The to-do lists kept piling up, adding more and more chaos to this whirlwind.

You know what we didn’t need during this mad rush to get everything done and ready for Christy to get on a plane? A phone service that dropped all of my calls. Or a phone that was so slow that it would be easier to send documents via passenger pigeon or the Pony Express. Been there. Done that. Not going back.

Ever.

Luggage and phone at the airport #Tips4Trips

That’s what I love about using Walmart Family Mobile. I don’t have to worry about wonky Internet connection. And I can be confident that I’ll be able to have an actual conversation on my phone without worrying about how many minutes I’m using. That’s pretty important when you’re in a time crunch.

And the phones are pretty cool, too.

In preparation for this great journey, I discovered some pretty cool apps. I think these are some tools that every traveler should have in their digital suitcase. They’re very helpful. And they’re free, although some can be enhanced with in-app purchases.

7 must-have apps for international travel:

Android Apps SmartTraveler #Tips4Trips

SmartTraveler

Provided by the U.S. State Department , SmartTraveler gives a plethora of information about countries around the globe, including local customs and laws, political climate, and the location of the U.S. embassy. It also keeps you up to date on travel alerts and warnings that have been issued by the State Department.

 

Android Apps iBlueButton #Tips4TripsiBlueButton

You never plan on having a medical emergency while traveling. But just in case the unforeseen does happen, it’s a good idea to have iBlueButton. It keeps all of your medical information and medical history in one place so you can access it with just the swipe of your finger.

 

Android App Google Hangouts #Tips4TripsGoogle Hangouts

This was pre-installed on our Androids, and although it’s gotten some negative press in the past, Christy and I have been using it to communicate over the the thousands of miles between us. You can use it to send text messages. You can also use it for free video calls via wifi, too.

Christy checking the phone at the airport #Tips4Trips

Android Apps iTranslate #Tips4Trips

iTranslate

With over 90 languages available on this app, you can translate words and phrases in a matter of moments. With an extensive dictionary library, you’ll be able to discern contextual clues and dialects. It’s easy to use and essential for a world traveler.

 

 

Android App Google Goggles #Tips4TripsGoogle Goggles

Let’s say you’re overseas and you see a landmark some 30 miles away but you don’t have any idea what it is. It looks important, but that’s about all you know. With Google Goggles, you can take a picture and search the web with that image. This app has some serious potential.

 

Android App FlightAware #Tips4TripsFlightAware

FlightAware was the perfect app for me to use while Christy was up in the air. No matter where I went that day, I could check the app and track her flight. And if you’re using it while traveling, you’ll be able to keep up to date on the flight schedule and which terminal you have to go to. That’s amazingly helpful if you have a short layover.

 

Android App XE Currency #Tips4TripsXE Currency

You can keep up to date on the exchange rates with this app. It’s a great way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your currency.

It’s also helpful if you’re trying to plan and budget your trip.

 

There are so many apps available that are related to travel. I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones. Now that Christy’s begun her journey, I can start planning for my trip to Ethiopia, which should happen within the next few months.  What apps should I add to my list? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

#Tips4Trips Phone and suitcase

 

Say goodbye to boring meals with STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PowerfulProtein #CollectiveBiasSaying goodbye to boring lunches with STOUFFERS Fit Kitchen

I don’t know about you, but lunch is always a challenge for me during the work week. Since I’m currently working two jobs, I am constantly on the go. I need something satisfying to give me the energy to make it through the rest of the day. I have 30 minutes to fix, eat, and clean up my meal before heading back to the grind. That’s really not enough time to run to a nearby fast food joint to grab a bite to eat. I used to bring leftovers to work, but our growing football playing teenager usually wipes out those reserves. And one can only have so many cold cut sandwiches before hoping for something more fulfilling at lunch. In the end, I’m left with a pretty boring, forgettable lunch experience. Fortunately, STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen provides a tasty protein packed punch that gets me through the afternoon.

So I’m saying goodbye to boring lunches. And you should, too.

FIT Kitchen Steak Fajita

Available at Walmart in the frozen foods section, STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen entrees are available in six mouth-watering varieties:

  • Steak Fajita
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • Rotisserie Seasoned Turkey
  • Bourbon Steak
  • Oven Roasted Chicken
  • Monterey Chicken

STOUFFERS FIT Kitchen #PowerfulProtein available at Walmart

Each meal is packed with at least 25 grams of protein. You know what that means? My hunger is satisfied. All afternoon long. But it’s not just my hunger that’s satisfied. My tastebuds are, too.

FIT Kitchen Fajita fork 2

I love STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen Steak Fajita.

It’s chock-full of tender prime rib steak with a smoked red chile sauce. With green and red peppers, beans, corn, and season brown rice added to the mix, every bite is bursting with flavor.

My mouth is actually watering just thinking about how great this meal is. Seriously.

It’s that good.

FIT Kitchen Cilantro Lime Chicken

I’m also a big fan of STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen Cilantro Lime Chicken.

White meat chicken with black bean and corn mix and seasoned brown rice with a verde tomatillo sauce – what’s not to love? I have to hide this package in the freezer for fear of someone else eating it before I can take it to work for lunch. It’s a family favorite at our house. Having STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen Cilantro Lime Chicken for lunch makes my belly full and my mouth happy for the rest of the afternoon.

FIT Kitchen Title

10 minutes. That’s all it takes.

These meals only take 10 minutes or less to prepare. So I’m saying goodbye to boring lunches. Goodbye, half-hearted meals. Goodbye, running to the nearest fast food joint to get something that’s only moderately satisfying (at best). Goodbye, wimpy frozen meals. Hello, STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen entrees! These entrees provide a balanced single-serving meal that keeps me going the rest of the day. They are the perfect addition to my hectic work schedule.

Want to know more about these fabulously satisfying meals so you can say goodbye to boring lunches? You can learn more about STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen on their social platforms. Follow them on twitter at @Stouffers. You can also like their facebook page.  And they have some pretty great ideas on Pinterest.

FIT Kitchen Title Image (2)

How about you? How will these new STOUFFER’S® Fit Kitchen meals fit with your busy schedule? Leave your ideas in the comments below.