Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Quit Together. Win Together. The Great American Smoke Out November 20th

During my childhood my mom was a smoker. In the 80s and being a smoker was almost a norm. I can still remember her favorite cigarettes, Virginia Slims Menthol because she would send me to the corner store to buy a pack for $1.15 (there were no laws against selling smokes to minors at the time) This particular brand was marketed toward women, commercials featured the long thin cigarette with women looking very posh. The hazards of second hand smoke were just beginning to be talked about but smoking was still permitted almost everywhere including restaurants. As a matter of fact, I can remember flying to California and the back of the plane was a cloud of smoke as folks puffed away.

Despite the prevalence of smoking in media and the community at large, I was never on board with my mother smoking. As a young child I would steal her cigarettes and hid them because I knew the dangers of smoking. There was also danger in this act because she would threaten my life if I didn’t give her the cigarettes. When we drove to my various activities I would keep the window down to try to keep the smoke away from me and did this even in the winter. I would disregard her pleas for me to put the window up because I told her I didn’t want to die from second hand smoke. Despite being an avid smoker, my mom did have the desire to  this quit.  She tried all types of ways to kick the habit including hypnotherapy but nothing stuck.

She smoked through most of my college years, I can remember coming home for the Christmas holiday and washing all of my laundry. When I returned to school I’d have to air it all out because of the smoke smell that still clung to them. By that point I recognized the difficulty with smoking cessation and didn’t harass her about it anymore. I simply believed she would stop when she was ready. In both a fortunate and unfortunate turn of events, she became ill during my senior year with an unidentified illness and decided that because of her health concerns it was time to quit. My mom took the bull by the horns, quit cold turkey and gave up the habit that she had for most of her lifetime. I know this wasn’t an easy task but she did it and the American Cancer Society wants to encourage others to stop smoking too.

Did you know that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — a bit under 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2012, there were also 13.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.” –

November 20 marks the American Cancer Society’s 38th year of the Great American Smokeout (GASO), an initiative to encourage smokers to commit to quit or make a plan to
quit on that day. By quitting, even for one day, smokers will take a critical step to a healthier
life that can reduce the risk of cancer. The official theme of the campaign is “Quit Together. Win Together.”

If you are a smoker, I’d like to encourage you to join the Great American Smokeout. Make a plan of action to quit or simply quit altogether on November 20th. You can find numerous resources on the website, call 1-800-227-2345 and visit the Quit for Life facebook page. Or you can just click this link for a guide to quit smoking. The GASO theme this year is “Quit Together, Win Together”. The biggest thing you can win in my opinion is your health, I encourage you to start your journey to better health on November 20!

Disclosure: This post represents a sponsored editorial partnership with the American Cancer Society. All storytelling and opinions are, of course, my own.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Virgin Mobile Custom a smartphone for my son I control!

My son has been using tech devices since he was a toddler. At 2 he was adept at playing with my iPhone and when the first iPad was released he enjoyed having a larger screen to play with. I have grappled with allowing him to have his own phone because I was unsure about having him use one as a seven year old. However, with parental controls and the ability to limit usage I have decided that he is ready. When I was asked to try the new Virgin mobile custom available only at Walmart, I figured no time like the present! This plan allows me to do a test drive with a cellphone for my son. Providing him with an opportunity to call and text those close to him with a no contract plan that I can discontinue if it doesn’t work out.

The plans start at just $6.98 for 20 talk minutes and 20 text messages. I know my son will be using the phone primarily for playing games so he isn’t likely to need more than this. But if he does, the Virgin Mobile custom plan provides me with the ability to build my own plan, customized for his needs. There are data plans starting at $8.00 for 250MB and since I know he will mostly be using the phone for gaming, this is the area I will need to increase(within reason of course, limiting his screen time is still very important to me). I can make adjustments at any time depending upon his usage. If you have an older child that likes to text or talk on the phone, you can add unlimited talking for $18.00 and unlimited text for $10.00. And although we are are only a family of two, if you have multiple children in your household, you can add up to 4 lines (at $4.98 each) to the plan and adjust everyone’s talk, text and data from your phone!

You see, with Virgin mobile custom, you have parental controls directly from your current phone (iPhone or Android). Virgin mobile is on the Sprint network, but you have control even if you are on a different network. As a mother I love parental controls. Not only am I able to adjust the plan depending on our needs, I also control when and how my son is able to use the phone. During school hours I am able to turn off the internet and only provide him with access to emergency phone numbers for use in the event he needs to call me or his father during school. Not only that, I can set a curfew so he won’t have the ability to play angry birds or other games after bedtime and I can block the apps that I don’t want him to access at all. I can do this all by downloading the app to my android or iPhone so the power is right at my fingertips!

My son received the LG Pulse($79.99) powered by android but you also have the option to purchase a ZTE Emblem ($59.99) or a LG Unify 4G LTE ($129.99).  With this smartphone my son is able to talk, text, and play the games that he enjoys. I think this is a great first phone for him and we are going to see how this experiment works out. My little boy is growing up quickly and by giving him this phone I am teaching him responsibility, providing him with some independence and allowing him to contact me when he is away!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jared Allen, Walmart and P&G Honor Veterans

My family is full of veterans. Both of my grandfathers, my uncle and many of my cousins served proudly in the military. They were all very fortunate because following their years of service they were able to obtain careers and/or complete college and support themselves and their families. Sadly, this is not the story of all veterans. Many of them have challenges following service for a variety of reasons and end up homeless. As a matter of fact, there are more homeless veterans today than US soldiers who died in the Vietnam war.  

Jared Allen of the Chicago Bears founded Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors to provide support for homeless veterans in Chicago. This past Tuesday, Veterans’ Day, Jared partnered with Walmart and Proctor Gamble to celebrate and provide support for the veterans staying at the Eddie Beard Homeless Veterans Housing Program (Vet House).

Jared visited a local Walmart and stocked up on P&G supplies for the Vet House, an organization dedicated to providing interim housing for honorably discharged veterans. The Vet House houses 15 veterans at a time ranging in age from 25-80 and currently has a waiting list of 50. The house is managed by Abdullah Hassan, a Vietnam vet. Within eight months, 70% of the veterans find permanent housing and establish an income.

During the celebration, Jared visited the Vet House and dropped off the P&G products from his Walmart trip. “I’m happy to have this opportunity to work with P&G and Walmart on a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” stated Allen. “Our wounded warriors have sacrificed to protect our freedom, and this is one important way of recognizing them for their service and saying thank you.”  In addition to the items gifted on Tuesday, P&G is providing a year’s supply of items for the Vet House. I think this is a wonderful example of honoring veterans who have risked their lives to protect our country. I want to give a great big thank you to ALL veterans, you have made us proud!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Christmas Centerpiece {DIY}

Did you know that Christmas is just 6 weeks away? And for the first time I am in the mood for the holiday early. Last month I took a trip to Arkansas to visit the Walmart headquarters with the Walmart Moms program. We were given the opportunity to preview some crafts for the holidays and I wanted to go right home and get crafty! I absolutely adore centerpieces and we were shown a wide variety of them for our homes.

I however am going home for Thanksgiving and since I have been traveling so much over the last month, I’ve decided to get a head start on Christmas decorating. I enjoy making my son happy, he loved the Halloween decorations and likes my fall floral centerpiece. Later today we are going to work on a Thanksgiving craft that he can do but for our holiday table, I decided to go ahead and get into the Christmas mood. Six weeks! I gotta do it. I am so much into the Christmas spirit that I will likely put up my tree as soon as I return from New York because there will only be 3 more weeks until Christmas!

So, what did I do? I made a very simple centerpiece from things I purchased from Walmart and a few leftover ornaments from last year. To start, I used a silver mirrored picture frame from the Better Homes and Garden line ($12.00). I purchased some glitter scrapbook paper and flamless wax candles by Mainstays. I really love the votives because they are vanilla scented and that is my favorite!

I cut out the glitter paper in two colors -white and blue. I like both and will switch them out depending on my mood. With the blue you can see more of the glitter so I think I will keep that for awhile. I placed the paper in the frame and replaced the back. I found that the kickstand for the frame made it uneven on my table so I removed the pin and took it off. I am keeping it in a drawer until after the holidays when I will replace it and put a picture of my son in the frame!

Next, I took last year’s spiral ornament and removed three spirals. I wrapped each candle with one like a ribbon. I attached a flower ornament to the “ribbon” on the largest candle using the clip. And then I arranged the candles and a couple silver ornaments on my “platter”. Finally, I sprinkled the glitter pieces that fell off my ribbon onto the platter and Voila! My centerpiece is complete! Check out my video below.

My son and I both enjoy having dinner to “candlelight” this centerpiece is a winner!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanksgiving recipe Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving is two weeks away and I am all ready for the holiday season. As they say “its the most wonderful time of the year!” and I am a believer! I absolutely LOVE the holidays because I get to throw down in the kitchen. I always make my famous sweet potato pie but I also do a little bit of experimentation too. One of my favorite vegetables are brussels sprouts and I usually enjoy them roasted in a little olive oil with salt and pepper.  A great side dish but I also like them as a snack. This year, I decided to take this up a notch and add more flavor to my favorite dish.

I give you - Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Cranberries. Believe me when I tell you they taste as good as they look. I drizzled them with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pomegranate red wine vinegar, maple syrup and then roasted for 30 minutes. 

After removing from the oven, I topped them with chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. I am telling you, this dish is amazing. Even folks who claim they don’t like brussels sprouts will enjoy it. The acidity of the vinegar combined with the sweetness of the maple syrup and cranberries is a perfect combination. The pistachios add a nice crunch. DELICIOUS!

It is so simple to make that even the most inept folks in the kitchen (I know you are out there but trust me, this recipe is easy) will be thought of as gourmet cooks and have the crowd asking for seconds! I suggest doubling or tripling the recipe if you are having company. The brussels sprouts shrink and I am telling you, folks will want more.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Cranberries

1 lb Brussels Sprouts, rinsed trimmed and halved
1 large tart apple (I used honeycrisp), cored and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsps maple syrup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I also added pomegranate red wine vinegar)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup salted and roasted pistachios

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a large bowl combine sprouts and apple. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and maple syrup.
  3. Pour maple syrup mixture over sprouts and apple until evenly covered.
  4. Season liberally with salt and pepper
  5. Roast in oven 10-15 minutes until brown and tender, turning halfway through cooking (In my oven roasting for 30 minutes worked better for me).
  6. Top with cranberries and pistachios.

If you are looking for more holiday entertaining ideas, check out Walmart Entertaining.

Share it

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Clicky Web Analytics