Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursay



One week until Thanksgiving!  I'm so ready y'all.  We purchased our food ahead of time this year and it's been too tempting not to defrost that turkey and eat it already.  Seriously, ask my family.  It's all I've been talking about for the last three weeks.

Also, I'm looking forward to trying to make it to the Thanksgiving parade Uptown this year.  I'm hoping it's not too cold because if it is we might end up watching it from home like we usually do.  We're all just getting over yet another round of colds.  Not to mention, JJ's asthma starts to act up when he's had too much exposure to cold air.  We're not trying to spend Thanksgiving weekend or the week after at the doctor's office nor the hospital.

Enough about that, let's jump into what I'm giving thanks for this week.  So, I want to thank everyone who has been keeping me in my prayer.  I did mention in these last Thankful Thursday posts that I was going through something in my personal life and God sent me a breakthrough.  What would life be without trials and hard times to help us build stronger faith?  Anyways, just want to say I'm grateful.

I'm thankful that my baby sister and I were able to have a bit of a brainstorming session yesterday.  It started off as phone call to talk catch up, but some how we started talking about business stuff.  In this economy, there's really not much stability and it pays to not put all your eggs in one basket.  I think we came up with some great ideas for alternative streams of revenue and I'm looking forward to blooming of a family brand.

I'm grateful that JJ is starting to finally string together words to make phrases.  His therapist was very impressed with his progress during their session yesterday.  My heart just swells with pride every time I think about how far we've come on this journey.  He's not taught not only me a lot, but our family as a whole.

We've been having the most perfect Fall weather and I'm loving it!  My goal is to find a few moments these next few days to get out and take some more nature pictures.  Lastly, I'm thankful that I stumbled across the Favado app (this is not a sponsored plug) because I've been slacking on my couponing game something major y'all.  Like my stockpile is gone and that's no bueno. 

With the Favado app, all the store matchups are done for me.  It tells me which coupons I need and even has the link to printable coupons.  From there, I just decide what deals I want to take advantage of and go shopping.  I'm looking forward to building up a mini stockpile.  I've never grown my stockpile to size of those you see on Extreme Couponing, but I did pick up extra to give to family and donate to local food banks.  I miss doing that.

Don't forget to enter my Portrait Innovations giveaway (click here).  And stop by tomorrow for a special announcement!

What are you giving thanks for this week?
 photo BlogSignature_zps0dda2cf9.png

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Very Berry Smoothie Recipe

I'm not a breakfast person.  At least not seven days a week.  A cup of coffee and off to get on with the rest of my day.  I know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  However, eating breakfast makes me hungrier more throughout the day.

Instead of focusing on my tasks at hand, I end up making more trips than I should to raid the frig and/or pantry.  I usually just wait to eat my first meal around brunch time, but with I've been taking on more opportunities in both my personal and professional life that have me away from home during brunch time.  To solve my breakfast/brunch dilemma, I've decided to just start substituting my morning cup of coffee with my very own Very Berry Smoothie.



I love that I can make as much or as little as I want of this smoothie.  I just have a cup while I'm getting ready and pour the rest into one of cold beverage mugs and take it on the go.  I'm giving my body the nutrients it needs and not binge eating or staving off hunger until lunchtime.  Anyways, below is the recipe.  And of course, you always adjust the measurements of the ingredients to your liking.


Ingredients
1/2 cup ice
1 cup frozen mixed berries (or fresh, if you prefer)
1/2-1 cup soy milk (or milk of your choice)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Directions
1. Pour all ingredients into a blender.
2. Mix.
3. Pour smoothie into a cup and enjoy!


I hope you enjoy my recipe.  If you try it let me know.  Also, let me know if you have any smoothie recipes that you really enjoy in the comments below.

Are you a breakfast person?

 photo BlogSignature_zps0dda2cf9.png

Friday, November 14, 2014

CiCi's Pizza: Creating a Better Pizza Experience

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by CiCi's Pizza.  While I was not compensated for this post, I did attend a tasting event and received a swag bag.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own.



A few weeks ago, I was offered an opportunity to attend a tasting event at CiCi's Pizza to sample and learn about some of the new changes and improvements they were making to offer customers a better pizza experience, effective as of November 5th.  Being the food lover that I am, of course I said yes.   Plus, I was going to have the chance to hang out with some of my favorite ladies. I was first introduced to CiCi's Pizza when I was 13 years old.  My Ma (aunt), whom y'all know passed away a few years ago, took me and every time I visit a CiCi's Pizza, I think back on that and what a great time we had.  But enough with the mushy stuff, let's talk about the food.

via Facebook

When it comes to pizza, the sauce is everything!  Have toppings on your pizza you don't like?  Just pick them off.  Have a yucky or bland tasting sauce base on your pizza?  Then, you're up a creek.  And while CiCi's already had one of the best pizza sauce bases around (in my opinion), they decided to change it and give the sauce a zestier taste created by using crushed tomatoes and Mediterranean oregano seasoning.

Hands down I am even more of a fan of their sauce base now.  It has a rich, zesty Italian flavor that screams of fresh ingredients.  Their pizzas are made with 100% real cheese and they're using almost 50% more cheese on each pizza now.  Trust me you can never have too much cheese on a pizza.  And now that they've upgraded their buffet pizza size from 12 inches (medium) to 14 inches (large), that's more gooey goodness to chow down on.



One of my favorite pizza toppings is three meats- pepperoni, sausage and beef.  Well, they've made the pepperoni thicker and added more spice, but not too much that kids wouldn't enjoy it.  The beef crumbles are meatier and the sausage has a bolder flavor that really explodes in your mouth (in a delicious way).  

Aside from having a create sauce, having a great crust also key to making yummy pizza.  CiCi's makes their each and every crust from scratch, brushing it with their own garlic butter sauce.  The outer crust has been reduced from 1 inch to a half-inch in thickness to allow more room for toppings and sauce.



The salad bar is bigger and offers new options like sunflower seeds and sliced beets depending on your location.  Other changes you'll notice at CiCi's is that they brought back the Garlic Cheesy Bread!!  I can't even begin to talk about how happy I was to hear that.

But the change, I was most excited to hear about is that they now offer wings!!!  They come in four different flavors- Garlic Parmesan, Mild Buffalo, Hot Buffalo and BBQ.   And y'all better believe it, those wings were on point.  They're baked not fried, which loved because I've worked hard decreasing the amount of fried foods I consume.



While at the event, we got to try our hands at crafting our own pizzas.  Check out mine below.  I topped it with sauce, a few handfuls of cheese, red onion, black olives, pepperoni, sausage and beef.  It was fun because I don't get make pizza at home often having two kids with gluten allergies (gluten-free pizza crusts sell out quick). 



I am keeping my fingers crossed that CiCi's Pizza will one day offer gluten-free pizza crusts as well as soy cheese options for those with food allergies.  Until then  I'll continue to enjoy treating myself to a mom's day out lunch every now and then.  However, when my was here visiting last week, I did treat her to lunch at CiCi's and she gave everything two thumbs up.  We did get nice swag bag that came with a tote, apron, tumbler, buffet vouchers and a gift card.



Lastly, I was delighted to find out how involved CiCi's Pizza is in the community like hosting Spirit Night Fundraisers for schools, Lunch & Learns for parents with children who stay at home and Pizza Pass Key Tags Fundraisers for sports organizations.  I love it when businesses give back to the community. It shows that they're interested in more than just collecting our coins.

If you haven't checked out your local CiCi's Pizza in a while, stop by and see for yourself the yummy goodness they have going on.  Also, make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay updated on all new changes and special discounts.

 photo BlogSignature_zps0dda2cf9.png

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thankful Thursday


It's Thursday YUMMs!  And you know what that means. . . it's time for another edition of Thankful Thursday.  I'm going to go ahead and jump right into it this week.

The first thing that I am thankful for is the weather today.  Yes, it was cold and slightly windy at time, but it was (in my opinion) the most perfect Fall weather day we've had in the Queen City since Fall arrived.  I didn't get to light my fireplace because I need to stock up on firewood, but I did make one of my one pot chili recipes. It was the perfect compliment to the weather.   

This week I'm also giving thanks for my inbox starting to overflow with lots of different opportunities.  The business is a welcomed reprieve from worrying about a current situation that has been putting me into a funk/borderline depression.  Being busy isn't a blessing all the time, but when I need my mind distracted, it's welcomed.  Also, I'm having a chance to build relationships with brands I haven't worried with here on YUMMommy before.  I'm looking forward to adding more fashion and beauty related posts the remainder of this year.

Our washing machine went up to washer heaven about a week and a half ago.  Thankfully, our replacement is finally on its way.  It's suppose to be arriving any day now.  Fingers crossed it'll  be here tomorrow, but definitely before the weekend is over.  

I'm thankful that JJ is still making great strides with his speech.  We're still working getting him to use sentences.  It's such a joy to see him saying "hi" and "bye" on a regular basis now.  He's becoming more confident in his ability to communicate verbally.

I'm grateful for good friends who lend a listening ear without passing judgement.  It felt so good to vent about my current stress to someone who could relate.  It was also fun cracking up over stuff from the past and talking about our families.  I don't take any of my best friends for granted.  What I tell them will go to grave and I don't have to worry about the most intimate details of my personal business getting dirtied in the streets or back alleys.

Moo had her first award ceremony this week.  She received an award for perfect attendance for the first nine weeks as well as the Mathematics Excellence Award.  I'm thankful I was able to attend and that she is excelling in school.  Everyday that she comes home, she's bursting at the seams to tell me about what she's learned.

This week I've been doing some planning for my YUMMommy vlog channel.  I'm thankful for all of my Facebook YouTube groups and for all of the wonderful resources I've been finding.  I really want to master vlogging and improve.  Next month I'll be doing Vlogmas and I can't wait.  Also, have a HUGE announcement coming up in regards to my vlog in the next coming weeks.


What are you giving thanks for this week?

 photo BlogSignature_zps0dda2cf9.png

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Santa Claus Is Coming: Skipping the lines and keeping a family tradition alive

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored Portrait Innovations.  All opinions expressed are my own.

If there was one holiday festivity that my mom was semi-religious about, it was making sure that we took yearly pictures with Santa.  Whether we believed in the Big Guy or not was irrelevant because for our family pictures with Santa was about creating and preserving a family tradition and spending time together as a family while doing a fun activity.  While I appreciated my mom giving us something to look forward to year after year, what I didn't was the long line we had to wait in.  Fast forward two decades and some change and the lines to get our (me and the kiddies) pictures taken with Santa seems have more than doubled.


We've tried three years in a row without any luck to wait out the long line at not one, but two of our local malls.  Each year one of my kids ends up having a meltdown or having to go potty, which results in us having to leave the line, thus losing our place.  Very frustrating to say the least, especially when you're trying so hard keep alive a family tradition.  Thankfully, the folks of the newly renovated Portrait Innovations at the Promenade on Providence Shopping Center understand that long lines and waits plus young kids don't mix.

Tuesday, November 11th through Sunday, November 16th, families like mine have a chance to not only get an early start on holiday traditions, but also a way to skip and avoid the long picture lines at the mall and elsewhere by dropping in or scheduling a professional portrait session with Santa during Portrait Innovations' normal business hours.  "For 12 years, we've been a part of the Charlotte community, helping families capture lasting memories throughout the year, " says Johnny Grosso, COO.  "But this is the first time we've brought Santa Claus to the studio.  The children will be delighted to spend time with Santa, and our studios provide a relaxing environment so that everyone can enjoy the experience."


If having a relaxed and long line-free environment isn't incentive enough for you to check out Portrait Innovations at the Promenade on Providence, they are offering a 43 Holiday Portrait Package priced at $19.99 that includes 43 printed photos of various sizes, 5 free 5x7 greeting cards and a choice of a free 11 oz portrait mug or ceramic ornament using this coupon (click here).  I've had pictures professionally made of Moo and JJ when they were babies and they weren't under $20 for 43 printed photos.  Needless to say, I didn't get anything free either.  This is definitely a steal you shouldn't miss out on.

And I'm not the only mom who's excited to get our holiday pictures done by Portrait Innovations this year.  Fellow Charlotte mom and South Charlotte Playgroup organizer, Lauren Riemer says, " We've always gone to the mall for our annual Santa portraits, but I dread it.  Navigating the mall with kids in tow is so stressful, the lines are long, and the pictures are always the same.  This year, we're looking forward to getting our Santa pictures at the same time as our traditional holiday family portraits."

In addition to the in studio Santa Claus, they have a variety of new holiday themed backgrounds, props and poses for families to choose from this year.  Sessions are typically an hour to 90 minutes, which is great if your kids have to take a few practice shots to get warmed up for the camera.  Also,  photos and greeting cards are printed the same day in studio and you can order portrait gifts and keepsakes that will make great gifts grandparents, other family members and friends.

Because the folks at Portrait Innovations are so awesome, they're offering YUMMommy readers a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to use on a future visit.  To be entered to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below.  Contest ends Sunday, November 22nd!

I'm looking forward to sharing a few of our holiday pictures in the coming weeks.  In the meanwhile, check out the Portrait Innovations website at www.portraitinnovations.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/portraitsdotcom) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/portraitsdotcom).


 photo BlogSignature_zps0dda2cf9.png

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thankful Thursday



Happy Thankful Thursday!  I hope everyone's week has been going well.  My week has been pretty uneventful for the most part . . . and slow.  I'm looking forward to the weekend to do some much needed networking and vlog editing.

Last week, I posted about how thankful I was to have my baby sister visiting with us.  She went back home last night.  Moo cried three times (twice before she left and once after) while JJ and I pouted in sadness.  I did get a little spoiled having here to help out and be my adult company since I don't get out much.  I'm thankful though that she'll back soon!  We can't wait.

I'm giving thanks that with the help of Moo's teacher, we finally got the lunch situation at her school straightened out.  No more packing lunches for this mommy.  She's been eating school lunch for two weeks now and loves it.  Today, she had baked chicken, strawberries, sweet potatoes and juice.  

And while we're on the subject of school lunch, I'm grateful that the schools here provide free breakfast and lunch for all students regardless their family's income status.  That's a huge help for families who are $1 or $2 over the free lunch income cutoff.  Times are still hard in this area and a lot of families are still paying catch-up in terms of paying bills and getting out of debt.  Schools and the government don't necessarily understand that though when they set these income limits.

I'm thankful that my uncle is still in stable condition and is out of the hospital.  He still has a few checkups to come to monitor his health.  I feel so blessed that God has been watching over my aunts and uncles because they're getting older and a lot of them have health problems that has caused some close calls.

Lastly, I'm thankful for the reminder to remain strong in my faith even during though times.  I've hit a bit of crossroads in my personal life and I've been praying for guidance on the matter.  Also, I've been giving God thanks for this situation because it's teaching me somethings and opening up my eyes a little bit.

What are you giving thanks for this week?


 photo BlogSignature_zps0dda2cf9.png

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hi November


Is it really November already?  Someone pinch me because I can hardly believe that we have less than two months left in 2014.  I'm starting to reflect and take stock on this year.  Considering that I spent much of last month with patchy internet, I didn't do too bad with my October goals.

I'm very proud of myself for picking up my camera a lot more than I had been.  I actually took the picture above on Halloween.  My sister was here to visit and the kids wanted to go on a little walk.  So, I pulled out the double stroller and off we went.  Now on to my goals for this month.

Holiday Prep

The holidays are always a busy time.  The stores and roads get more and more crowded the closer it gets to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So, my goal for this month is to finish up all of my holiday prep for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Thankfully, I've already gotten a head start on this goal.  Most of Thanksgiving dinner was purchased this weekend including the turkey and I've already been wrapping gifts as I buy them.  I'm looking forward to being able to just sit back and enjoy celebrating with my family.

Blog Sponsors

This year was a great year for YUMMommy in terms of sponsors.  And I'm looking forward to making next year even greater.  This month I'll be re-evaluating some of the sponsorships that I currently have and deciding which companies I'd like to continue working with.  Also, I want to start reaching out to a few more of my favorite brands and seeing what kind of projects we can collaborate on in 2015.

NaNoWriMo

This is my second year doing NaNoWriMo and I'm super excited.  Last year, I failed miserably.   There was so much going on that I could barely concentrate on day-to-day happenings less more writing a 50k word novel.  However, I'm in a much better place and I have already gotten off to a decent start.  Also, something that I'm doing different this year is that I've joined a few writing groups and have been interacting more with other writers.  Some are moms like me and understand how hard it is to juggle motherhood and trying to create a great body of written work.  I'll leave you guys with a look at my current book cover.


I'll be doing weekly NaNoWriMo diary posts and sharing a few excerpts from this Surviving You as well Forever Branded here.  Hope y'all will stop by!  And if you're doing NaNoWriMo be sure to add me as a Buddy.

Home Life

While Moo is doing great in school, there are a few things that her teacher asked me to work harder with her on.  So, this month I really want to make sure we get on top of those things and nail it.  Also, I'll be working with JJ on learning how to communicate using full sentences.  Right now he speaks mostly using random phrases or just one word.  I think he's up for the challenge and I'm on the lookout for fun activities that will help us with this.

We've been in our new place since the end of May and I feel like we haven't quite personalized it yet.  So, I've been pinning a few DIY and craft projects that I want to try to spruce this plain canvas.  I've been keeping my eye open for some awesome curb finds, too.

Faith

Sadly, we haven't been to church in a minute.  We've been catching the Joel Olsteen telecasts on TV.  While that's all good and well, there's nothing like going to church and being surrounded by your church family and pastor.  I feel awful for missing as much church as we have considering we're back close to the church we had been going to and have at least three churches in our neighborhood.

My goal is definitely to make it to church at least 2 Sundays this month.  Moo has been asking when we're going back and I don't want her to get discouraged.  We've been doing our morning and nightly prayers as well as bedtime devotions.

What are your goals for this month?


 photo BlogSignature_zps0dda2cf9.png