How I was Able to Share an Ice Cold Coke with my Office Teammates

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

How I was able to share an ice cold Coke with my teammates #ShareIceColdFun #ad

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I recently made a career change. I left my job as an Instructional Assistant, working with lower elementary school students with Special Needs. Now I work with a nonprofit organization. I get to help adults with Special Needs find meaningful work in the community. I’m not going to lie. This was a bittersweet decision. I really enjoyed working with those kids. But it was also a no-brainer.

I’ve joined a pretty amazing team of Employment Advisors. I’m excited to work with them. And they’ve been very helpful as I’m trying to get up to speed. They’re a hard working, dedicated, and passionate group of people. It’s an honor to join forces with them to help change lives in our community.

I wanted to show my appreciation for the work my teammates do. They have been so patient and welcoming and accommodating during this transition. I also wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself to everyone on my team. So I created a little gift basket to share, thanking them for making me feel like I’m already an important part of the team.

My quest for the perfect gift basket.

This Summer, the Coca-Cola™ Share an Ice Cold Coke campaign has returned. It’s bigger and better than ever before. They’ve added a thousand new names this year.  They’ve also added last names!

That’s right. Last names.

I had to include personalized Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero™, Diet Coke®, Coca-Cola Cherry, and Coca-Cola Life bottles in this gift to my teammates. It just made sense. So, I visited our closest Giant Eagle store, the Market District in Carmel, and went about grabbing some personalized bottles and some other goodies to share with my team.

Why a Giant Eagle store?

Have you seen their bulk candy and trail mix section?

Giant Eagle treats #ShareIceColdFun #ad

It’s amazing.

So I hit the road for my local Giant Eagle (you really should check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest profiles) on a quest to find some goodies for this special basket I’m creating. When I walked in the door, it was like the heavens opened up before me. There, right before my eyes, was the sea of personalized Coca-Cola bottles. It was right there in the cold drinks section at the entrance.

It was glorious.

So I grabbed the appropriate Share an Ice Cold Coke bottles of Coca-Cola. I went over to the bulk area and got a bucket of cheesy popcorn and created a container of trail mix. Although i probably could have spent another hour or two wandering through the store, I had other things to get done that evening. That’s what’s great about Giant Eagle stores. I love the layout. I love the products they have. And of course I love their bulk confections. I’m never disappointed when I visit a Giant Eagle store.

An appropriate gift basket for a small nonprofit office

Share an Ice Cold Coke with an office gift basket #ShareIceColdFun #ad

In addition to some tasty treats and personalized Share an Ice Cold Coke bottles, I wanted to give some things that were fitting for our team’s setting. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there are times where our equipment and supplies can feel cobbled together. Such is the nature of an organization like ours. Our time, money, and energy are focused on serving our clients to the best of our abilities. So, some necessities might become a little scarce sometimes.

I ran to a local discount store and found a few things that every office like ours must have. And I included them in my gift basket.  Our office has a refrigerator. It has a microwave. But it’s almost near impossible to find any eating utensils. So I included plastic cutlery in my basket. And speaking of the basket, I decided to use a stackable mail tray as the container to hold all of these tiny gifts. That will come in handy with keeping things organized. I also found some inexpensive buckets to add a splash of color to our office.

The nature of our work requires that we keep detailed records. There are timesheets and follow up sheets and sheets upon sheets upon sheets. Almost all of them require black ink. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard enough for me to keep track of my pens. It’s like they grow legs and walk away. Black ink pens are even harder to keep track of. So my gift basket included a package of black ink pens to support the cause. Because if we don’t have black pens, we cannot do our jobs effectively. They’re that important.

I considered putting the basket in the Break Room, but this is a gift for my team. So I sat it on a desk in the office that our team shares. Giving office supplies in a gift basket might be considered “out of the box,” but I thought it was a highly appropriate gift for my teammates.

I hope they enjoyed it. Because I know I appreciate them.

Share an Ice Cold Coke Gift Basket for my office #ShareIceColdFun #ad

Who will  you share an ice cold Coke with this Summer?

Cherry Coke Pulled Pork makes college basketball even better [Recipe]

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  Coca-Cola is a corporate champion of the NCAA. #FinalFourPack #CollectiveBias

#FinalFourPack Game Day

I love this time of year. The air is starting to warm up. The birds are returning. The flowers are starting to bloom. And a select few college teams are still playing basketball. All are signs that March is upon us. And I believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

NCAA® March Madness is about to descend upon us. It promises to be full of s the proverbial David vs. Goliath stories, surprising upsets, instant classics, and heartbreaking losses as the field of 68 men’s teams will duke it out for the opportunity to visit my fair city of Indianapolis. It’s in our beloved town where the kings of the college basketball world will soon be crowned.

Yes, I am excited about NCAA® March Madness. I get this way every year. I love every minute of the tournament, from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer. It’s wall-to-wall basketball for three weekends in a row. And I can’t get enough of it.

I have already made the declaration in our home: if the TV is on, we will be watching basketball. End of discussion.

With so much on the line with each game, I believe watching them should be an event unto themselves. This year, I plan on gathering the family around the TV to soak in as much of the hoops hysteria as possible. We’ll probably even invite some friends over to watch with us.

When gathering people together to watch, you want to keep things simple. After all, the tournament is primarily about the games. Right? You don’t want to spend half of Game Day in the kitchen making snacks. Fortunately, Coke has provided a convenient way to help you prepare for the tournament with the Coca-Cola NCAA® Final Four Pack available at Walmart.

#FinalFourPack display at Walmart

These convenient four packs come in three different flavors: Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, and Coke Zero. They’re easy to carry and a great deal! You can get four 4-packs for only five bucks. A #FinalFourPack is a great way to make wall-to-wall basketball watching even better!

You have to eat while watching basketball, right? Watching all those games can be exhausting. With help from one of the Final Four Packs, you can make a simple meal-sized snack that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser: Cherry Coke Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I love this recipe because you can put it together quickly and then go back to watching the games. You just set it and forget it until it’s time to remove from the oven several hours later.  #FinalFourPack Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cherry Coke BBQ Sauce

 

The process to make Cherry Coke Pulled Pork Sandwiches is really quite simple. It just requires a lot of patience. But that’s OK. You’ve got some great basketball games to keep you occupied!

What You’ll Need:

#FinalFourPack Cherry Coke BBQ ingredients

  • 1 3-to-4 pound pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • hamburger buns
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 12 ounce can of Cherry Coke
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Spices (see below)

#FinalFourPack Cherry Coke BBQ spices

Spices:

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

What you’ll do:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

3. Put hamburger buns to the side. You won’t need them for a few hours.

4. Place pork shoulder into roasting pan or similar dish with sides.

5. Combine remaining ingredients (ketchup, Cherry Coke, red wine vinegar, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices) into a mixing bowl. Stir until blended.

6. Pour over the pork.

7. Bake until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. But you can bake it longer than that if you’d like. In fact, it’s recommended. Some say you want to reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Because that gives the connective tissue even more time to break down, making the meat amazingly tender. You want to set it low and bake it slow. A good rule of thumb is to plan on an hour per pound of meat at minimum.

8. Go watch a game or two. Or maybe even three! It is NCAA® March Madness time, after all. Don’t worry about the pork for a while.

9. Seriously. Stop worrying about the pork. Set it and forget it.

10. Once your meat reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a large platter. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

11. While the meat is still warm, use two forks and pull the pork apart.

12. Add some of the sauce from the baking dish to your pulled pork.

13. Spoon the pulled pork onto the hamburger buns.

14. Enjoy!

See? It’s really that easy. Some people like to top their pulled pork with slaw. You can do that if you’d like. Or serve it with pickle spears. Or top it with mayonnaise (I know, it sounds weird, but trust me. It’s pretty good). This sandwich is the perfect pairing with the Tournament because it gives you all the time in the world to watch all the buzzer-beaters you can handle!

What’s your favorite Game Day snack? Do you have any traditions for NCAA® March Madness? Please share them in the comments below!

But that’s not the only way Coca Cola can make your college basketball experience even better with their Final Four Pack. You can follow Coke and Coke Zero on their social media platforms and continue the fun all year long.

Coca-Cola

Coke Zero

The college basketball fun with Coca Cola doesn’t stop there!

Enter the giveaway below for the chance to win the ultimate #FinalFourPack basketball giveaway!

 

Coca Cola #FinalFourPack Walmart Sweepstakes – $1,000 in Prizing

 
When you enter, you also have an opportunity to enter to win tickets to the 2016 Final Four! All you need is a selfie.
#FinalFourPack selfie
So what are you waiting for? Enter to win today!