Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Stovetop Taco Pasta - Recipe





My niece found this recipe circulating on Facebook and made some for her family.  I had a few bites and immediately knew I needed to make it for my peeps, with just a few tweaks. 




Ingredients

 1 box large shell macaroni

 1 tablespoon canola oil

 1 pound ground beef

 1 yellow onion diced

 2 tablespoons garlic salt
 2 tablespoons taco seasoning

 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 3/4 cup water

 1 cup jarred salsa

 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded

 Salt to taste

 Pepper to taste



Directions 

Cook the pasta according box directions, drain and set aside.

In the meantime, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Once it starts sizzling add the ground beef and brown well.  Drain.

Add the onion;  stir and cook for 1 minute.
Add the taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add 3/4 cup of water, stir and cook until water is gone.

Add the pasta to the pan. Add the salsa and cheese. Stir to combine.
Serve immediately.

Where's Waldo?: Exciting Expeditions - Book Review and Giveaway


Book Overview:

 Planning a vacation? Be sure to pack this compact compendium full of things to spot, story games to play, and puzzles to create, featuring the elusive Waldo and his wily friends. Want a creative challenge to boot? Check out the writing prompts for making up your own stories, plus bonus journal pages inviting you to record your own travel escapades and a creative story game with twenty-four cards. Move over, Waldo — there’s more than one intrepid traveler in town!

What did you do on vacation? Waldo’s latest travel-size collection features puzzles, searches, and prompts for writing about your own adventures.



Age Range: 5 - 9 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
Series: Where's Waldo?
Paperback: 72 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (February 12, 2019)


My Review:

If, by chance, you're not familiar with Waldo he is a male character who travels the world and blends in with crowds.  His trademark outfit includes blue pants, a red and white striped shirt and stocking hat, and glasses.  In the Where's Waldo? books, it's up to you to pick Waldo out from a crowded scene.  If you are familiar with Waldo, then you already know that it's not easy to spot Waldo among the backdrop.

Take your visual senses on a journey with Where's Waldo? Exciting Expeditions.  This book showcases Waldo on several adventures.  Not only is it up to you to find Waldo, it's also up to you to find many other objects within the settings.  For instance, you may be asked to search for a dog bone, a certain book, or a particular animal.  You can check off the box beside each item you find.  

Besides being on the hunt to find Waldo, other fun things within this travel-sized book are puzzles, games and activities.  You may be asked to spot ten differences between two pictures, write out an escape plan, or even write out what sea dwellers are thinking.  In addition, there's pages for someone to write out their own adventures by detailing where they went and what they saw there.  Cut-out cards hidden within the pockets at the front and back of the book create even more "find-it" fun.

This book will keep you busy for hours, and it definitely makes you use your noggin.  Because the book is smaller, the figures and pictures are on a more stunted scale.  It makes looking for specifics  more of a challenge.  But, otherwise, this is a book that will keep you entertained and engaged.

Win It!

One person will win Where's Waldo?: Exciting Expeditions.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the  USA.*

I received book for review from Candlewick Press.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

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Wordful Wednesday - Annual Hall Family Reunion


It's been over a month since it happened but the Annual Hall Family Reunion was held and was a success.  It had actually been several years since a family reunion was held but my sister remedied that situation and started it back up again.  The first was held last year and we plan on keeping it an annual tradition, rather than let it die out again.

My Uncle BJ and my husband talking about something important, I'm sure.

The family reunion was held at a local campground's shelter house.  Everyone brought a dish and there was plenty to eat.  The olds mingled with the youngs and traded stories.  

Rahjae became the official Luau girl with all the leis

Although I didn't take pictures, a lot of people took advantage of the campground's pool.  
The older I get, the more important family is to me.  I enjoy getting together and conversing with those I grew up around and making memories with those younger than me.

Me and my mini-me.
The sun was out in full force so I got a lot of "squinty-eyed" photos.

Does your family have an annual family reunion?

Final Winners For July

Photo by phil sheldon on Unsplash

A few of my giveaways have ended and the winners have been randomly drawn.

The winner of the Wink Brow Perfecting Quad giveaway is #14, Monique S.

The winner of the Pennywise Figurine giveaway is #4, Sharon Schoepe.

The winner of the Canvas Print giveaway is #54, Heather!

The winner of the Ugly Dolls Blu-ray giveaway is #36, Robin A.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to all who entered.  There's almost always giveaways going on at my blog.  Be sure to enter.  There's no limit to how many you can enter or how many you can win.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Fundraiser: I'm Selling Shirts for Cambodia Mission Trip

"I'm just a nobody
trying to tell everybody
all about somebody
who saved my soul."
-Casting Crowns

In September of 2017 I went on my first mission trip.  It lasted a week and was in Quito, Ecuador.  I went there thinking I'd change lives (and I'd like to think I helped make a small difference).  But, in reality, my life was changed more.  I was moved in so many ways that I can't even explain.

I've been given the opportunity to go on another mission trip.  This time it will be to Rapha House in Cambodia.  The difference between this time and the last is that the trip will last twelve days and I will be going alone, without my husband.  Rapha House exists to help the girls who've been involved in human sex and labor trafficking.

To help offset the costs, I am holding a fundraiser by selling shirts.  There are three different designs (Women's Racerback, Premium Unisex Tee, and V-Neck Unisex Tee) with different color options available.  If you'd like to help by purchasing a shirt, I'd be very appreciative.  Prayers are welcome as well.  There is no shipping charge and the shirt will be sent directly to you.  The last day to order is August 13th, 2019.  Thanks for any and all help.


The Root Beer Float Challenge - Game Review and Giveaway


I grew up playing games with my family, and have passed that tradition on to my kids.  We like to gather around for some friendly competition. When my kids (or even friends) come to visit we usually get out games to play.  I love the quality time and friendly banter.  A new game we've been playing is The Root Beer Float Challenge.  Playtacular, LLC released this game in June of this year.


The Root Beer Float Challenge is a hands-on challenge game using straws, a ball, tin soda can, and two plastic cherries.  Depending on what challenge is presented, one or more of those pieces will be used to complete a challenge.  This game is for 2 to 8 players.  The items included in this game are 1 ice cream ball, 2 cherries, 4 straws, 1 root beer can, 1 challenge die, and 200 Game cards.

Players take turns competing in Solo, Cooperative, and Head-to-Head Challenges.  For each challenge completed you get an Ingredient Card.  The first player to "build" a root beer float with the correct ingredient cards wins.


The challenges that each player is given depends on the roll of the die.  If the challenge is completed, the player gets an ingredient card.  One example of a challenge is for two players to each suck up a cherry using the straw like a vacuum.  The player who keeps the cherry attached to the straw the longest wins.  Another example of a challenge is for two players to take turns rolling the plastic ball between each other's legs while sitting.  They have to do this twice and be successful at it.


I love the hands-on, interactive aspect of this game.  It's definitely caused us to laugh a lot, and it gets us up and moving around.  Some of the challenges are fairly easy and others are somewhat hard.  I think the overall whimsical design of this game is fun.  When the game is not in use, you can store all the cards and pieces inside the tin root beer can.


Win It!

One person will win The Root Beer Float Challenge game.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received game for review from Playtacular.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
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Weekend Camping at Woodyz Acres

Jason getting his pole ready for fishing

Woodyz Acres, formally known as Injun Campground, was where Jason and I stayed last Saturday.  The place is under fairly new ownership and a lot of renovation.


our pop-up camper

The campground, located by Hannibal, MO, used to be a happening place several years ago.  For whatever reason, it depreciated and the grounds weren't properly taken care of.  Since the recent new ownership, things are back on the uphill.  There's still a lot of work to be done but it's a lovely place to camp.

Tasha being blasted with a water gun

We purchased a used pop-up camper about a month ago and took it out for the first time.  It's not fancy by any means but has lights and AC.  It stormed pretty heavily that night so I didn't sleep well. A pop-up is a glorified tent on wheels so I could hear all the thunder and pelting rain.  Other than that and the fact that it was hotter than Hades throughout the day, we had a great time.

the view from behind our camper

A couple friends of ours and their granddaughter set up camp right next to us.  The place has a fairly large pool.  We hung out there for some time, then came back to hang out.  Of course, we had the obligatory S'mores and fishing and grilling.

I got tons of sun so my freckles popped out like mushrooms in season.

It doesn't take a whole lot to entertain me, so this was a perfect one-night getaway.  I'll definitely go back.

Do you enjoy camping?

Friday, July 26, 2019

Three of "My Babies" That Aren't Babies Anymore

The visit was only for a few short hours but Adam came in from Tennessee to see me!

As many of you know, my husband and I have a blended family of six kids.  Three mine + Three His = 6 Ours.  Now you know the premise behind my blog name!

My three kids came over a couple weeks ago for a visit and I reflected a lot after they left.  With all the kids being ages 17 to 25, it's rare that all are able to get together at once and I don't see them as much as I used to.  I absolutely love the time I get to spend with any of them.  I actually, literally cherish it. 
Shelby and Logan watching Youtube videos together

Is there a time when I'll quit calling them "my kids"?!  After all, they're not really kids anymore.  What's the appropriate name to call them?  Is there actually an appropriate name?

Maybe it's because I'm a little older.  Maybe it's because they're grown.  Maybe it's because quality time isn't as often as it used to be.  Maybe it's because I'm a softie.  Maybe because I've learned to choose my battles.  Regardless of the reason, I find great joy in hanging with my kids.  I don't even care if we're out on a daytime adventure or just sitting on the couch, the time is precious and forever my babies they'll be.

Shelby getting cat cuddles from Trader Jimmy

MadeGood and Mabel's Labels Come Together To Bring The Savings


Summer is here and most families are heading for camp, picnic dates, pool days, zoo adventures, lots of snacking.  But, before you know it, we'll be planning to head back to school. 

MadeGood snacks have partnered with Mabel’s Labels to help families snack and save. 

Anyone can enjoy $10 off of Mabel's Labels personalized school label pack when they purchase these 4 snacks from MadeGood:

MadeGood’s Chocolate Chip Crispy Squares

Vanilla Crispy Squares

Mixed Berry Granola Bars and

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars 

Mabel's Labels personalized school labels with my granddaughter's last name will be used this year on her school supplies.

Mabel’s Labels are washable and durable labels for everyone in the family. Not to mention, MadeGood snacks are organic, gluten free, vegan, Non-GMO, are made with real fruit and contain nutrients from one full serving of vegetables.

I received products in exchange for this post.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Earn Ranchology Rewards with Hidden Valley Ranch


If Hidden Valley Ranch is your jam, you should check out Ranchology Rewards.  I've signed up and have been a member for a little over a year.  You should sign up too!

Ranchology™ Rewards is all about earning Badges—which then magically transform into excellent rewards. It's free to join.

How does it work? Check out Ranchified recipes, watch videos, and review your favorite products. Those activities will earn you Badges, which lead to delicious rewards. I recently received a coupon reward for a free Hidden Valley Ranch product of choice.

This post contains a referral link.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Starworld - YA Book Review and Giveaway


Authors: Paula Garner and Audrey Coulthurst

Book Overview:

Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?

In a novel in two voices, a popular teen and an artistic loner forge an unlikely bond — and create an entire universe — via texts. But how long before the real world invades Starworld?

My Review:

Told by two parties, Zoe and Sam, Starworld is a Young Adult novel about finding friendship in the unlikeliest of ways and finding your identity.  Zoe is the popular girl at school and has many friends.  People look up to her.  What most people don't know is that Zoe may look like she has it all together, but she's actually struggling with feelings and family life.  Zoe's mom is ill from a bout with cancer and her brother has learning and physical disabilities that sometimes take a toll.

One day, at school, Zoe meets Sam and the two forge a friendship.  Sam has her own family problems, from a mother with OCD and anxiety to a father who loves her, but doesn't live nearby.  Sam and Zoe become fast friends and escape the reality of the world by sending texts to each other about an imaginary place called Starworld.  It's through their texts and real life events that the two discover who they really are, even if it takes turmoil and tears to reach that point.

Although this story alternates between Zoe and Sam's point-of-views, I was able to follow along with ease.  I'll admit there were times were Sam seemed a little too weird and even pushing the boundaries of being a stalker.  I learned to like her character more as the story went on.

There's a lot of talk within the story of high school angst, figuring out sexual preference and identity, anxiety disorders, miscarriage, adoption, and other strong issues. The recommended age for this book is 14 and up.  I agree with that, due to sensitive talk and some curse words.

There are resources with numbers and websites in the back of the book that point a person to topics that are discussed in the book.


Win It!

One person will win a Starworld YA Hardback Book.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received book for review from Candlewick Press.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 180

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

I believe in a God that hears prayers and answers them. I've witnessed the miraculous gift of answered prayer. And, I want to pray for you. I've started weekly Power of Prayer post every Thursday. We are now on week 180. If you are needing prayer in an area of your life, please leave a comment and I'll commit to pray for your need or request. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Whether it be for healing, salvation, finances, emotions, or another area of life, I'd like to lift it up in prayer.

And this is God's plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God's children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.
–Ephesians 3:6

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Check It Out: GirlznDollz Summer Giveaway

GIRLZNDOLLZ IS HAVING A SUMMER GIVEAWAY!

Win any GirlznDollz & Purse of your choice! Each prize comes with a doll and bonus child handbag.  Giveaway ends 7/31/19.

Like on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and share with friends and family to win points & get the highest score. Participants with the highest score win.

This post contains referral links.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Winners for the LITTLE Blu-ray Are...



The giveaway for the LITTLE Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack has ended.  The three winners have been randomly drawn and they are:
#32, Leela
#12, Bryan Vice
#28, Tara R.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to all who entered.  Be sure to enter the current active giveaways, listed at the top left hand side of my blog.  There's no limit to how many you can enter or how many you can win.




I Don't Like To Eat Ants - Children's Book Review and Giveaway



Book Overview:

Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: Picklefish Press (August 1, 2019)
Language: English

I Don’t Like to Eat Ants follows two anteaters and the pros and cons about their diet of ants. Anteater Two insists it’s in their nature to only dine on ants, but Anteater One doesn’t like the taste and tells Anteater Two about the wonderful foods he’s tried and enjoyed more those little bugs. When Anteater One treats Anteater Two to a sandwich at the Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli, he too discovers he likes peanut butter and jelly, and decides to try more foods since he won’t know what he likes unless he is willing to take a chance.

About the Author:

The family of authors known as JTK Belle—father Jeffrey and his children Tommy and Katie—founded Picklefish Press in 2017. Their previous works include Freeda the Cheetah, Katherine’s Bike was Wonderfully Strange, and Tommy O’Tom in a Tub O’ Trouble. Katie and Tommy both are passionate about nonprofit work, as Katie raises funds for pediatric cancer research, and Tommy focuses his philanthropic efforts toward wildlife conservation. Jeff currently works for Amazon Publishing. The family resides in Seattle.


My Review:

We all know someone who is a picky eater (not me!) .  Children, especially, tend to stick to favorite foods and balk at trying new things.  I Don't Like To Eat Ants is an amusing tale that encourages trying new foods.  Told in rhythmic form, this book follows two anteaters as they talk about the foods they eat.  Anteater 1, surprisingly, doesn't like to eat ants.  He is fond of all sorts of food.  Anteater 2 thinks ants are the one and only food staple that should be consumed.  The two hash it out, then meet up at Anteater 3's deli.  It's there that Anteater 2 becomes convinced that trying new foods isn't so bad after all. But he's not giving up on ants either!

I love the whimsical way this story is told and the illustrations of ants with their own thoughts dotted throughout the pages is amusing.  This book may open up discussion to your child trying new foods.  But, even if it doesn't, it's still a jolly story.


Win It!

One person will win an I Don't Like To Eat Ants children's hardcover book.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received book for review from Smith Publicity.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
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Monday, July 22, 2019

Random Tuesday Thoughts - Lots Going On

It's been a hot minute since I've participated in Random Tuesday Thoughts, hosted by Stacy Uncorked.  Life's been busy, with lots of ups and downs.  Here's some of the randomness that's been going on in my life:


Two of my kiddos have turned another year older.  Logan turned the momentous age of 21 and Emma turned 17.  Jason and I took them out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant.  And, yes, Logan took full advantage of his new age when he went out later that night.
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I posted some time ago that I fell down my stairs and received a severe sprain on my right foot and ankle.  I sported an air splint for a while but it was a big ole' Pain the Arse.  I'm faring pretty well now and only have pain when I stand on my leg for a long time.  

Just a few days after getting back on track with my foot, I woke up to a scratched cornea.  Third time in a year and a half!  I have no idea how it's happening, except that it's during my sleep.  Couldn't see for two days.  I'm just a walking (and sleeping) accident waiting to happen!
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Some dear friends of ours have been generous with their garden goods.  Jason made some zucchini bread and I recently made garden fresh green beans and new potatoes with onion and bacon. Turned out so good.  It was my first time making the green beans meal.

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A couple weeks ago I went shopping with a friend at Goodwill in Hannibal, MO.  I'm a thrift store junkie and this was one of the best I've been to in regards to clothes.  I got a whole new wardrobe at a great price.  It was my first trip, but definitely won't be my last!
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Jason and I have made plans to go to Tennessee in the middle of August to visit my son who lives there.  We've purchased tickets to attend the Nascar Night Race at Bristol speedway.  It will be our first time attending an official Nascar race.  Have any tips for attending a Nascar event?
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We've been in our new home for almost two months now.  Things are unpacked and put away.  We live in the same town as before but we've had a ton more people come over now that we live here.  It's never a dull moment!
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How has your summer been so far?
What's your randomness for the week?

Check It Out: Savings.com #BTSwithOfficeDepot Giveaway

Win a $50 Office Depot & Office Max Gift Card!

Just in time for Back to School shopping, Savings.com is giving away $500 in gift cards from Office Depot & Office Max with the #BTSwithOffice Depot Giveaway!

Giveaway starts on Monday, July 22nd at 12:00 AM PT
Giveaway ends on Friday, August 2nd at 11:59 PM PT

Ten (10) winners will receive a $50 gift card from Office Depot & Office Max.

This post contains affiliate links.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Boiled Green Beans with Parmesan Cheese - Recipe

fresh snapped green beans

I don't know the first thing about tending to a garden but it seems right now's the prime time for green beans.  Friends of ours gave us a large batch and I boiled them after snapping the ends of the beans.  After boiling, I added some ingredients for taste.


Here's a simple, yet delicious, recipe using boiled green beans:

Cook 1 lb. trimmed, fresh green beans in large pot of boiling water until tender.  The cook time for beans will be about 7 minutes.  Drain.

Return beans to pot or a large bowl and coat with avocado oil or olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then coat with parmesan cheese.  

finished product

What is your favorite way to cook and serve green beans?
Do you have a garden?  If so, what are you growing?

Sea Glass Summer - Children's Book Review and Giveaway



author: Michelle Houts
illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline
age range:  4 yrs - 8 yrs
type/format: Picture Books / Hardback

One summer, a boy named Thomas visits his grandmother at her seaside cottage. She gives him a magnifying glass that once belonged to his grandfather, and with it Thomas explores the beach, turning grains of sand into rocks and dark clamshells into swirling mazes of black, gray, and white. When his grandmother shows him a piece of sea glass, Thomas is transfixed. That night he dreams of an old shipyard and the breaking of a bottle. Could the very piece of sea glass on his nightstand have come from that bottle? For the rest of the summer, he searches for more sea glass and hopes to have dreams that will reveal more of the sea’s secrets. A stunning ode to stories and the seaside, this picture book invites readers to imagine the ocean of possibility that lives in every small or forgotten treasure.

Author Michelle Houts and illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline explore the magic of one of the seaside’s greatest wonders and the bonds that link us through time.



My Review:

This story tells of a boy, Thomas, who stays with his grandma during the summer.  One day Thomas finds a piece of sea glass.  After being told what sea glass is and that there's usually a story behind every piece, Thomas starts to dream of the possible stories this glass holds.  Each piece of glass that he finds transports Thomas to shipyards, storm of the sea, and other possible scenarios.  One day an accident causes Thomas to lose his sea glass and grandfather's magnifying glass.  Although Thomas is sad, a young girl stumbles upon it years later and begins her own cycle of dreams.

Just like antiques and old treasures, sea glass has its own stories to tell.  Even if you don't know the full account, it's nice to think of how the items were used by people before you.  I like how this story encourages children to use their imaginations and insight.  I also like how the reader feels transported back in time to a specific event when Thomas starts dreaming about the sea glass.


Win It!

One person will win a Sea Glass Summer children's book.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received book for review from Candlewick Press.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
a Rafflecopter giveaway