The Good Food Festival is showing how eating clean can be tasty and fun!

The way to my heart is food. Not just any type of food, but good food! So when I was offered the opportunity to become a “Good Food Festival” ambassador I jumped on it. It’s a day celebrating Good Food! Discover new artisanal goods from over 150 exhibitors, learn from workshops and chefs demos, and explore our family-friendly programming!


As a mom I want the best possible food for my family and I crave learning new ways to make eating healthy fun and tasty. The Good Food Festival will have Live cooking demos as well as a kid area so the kids can experience new foods and have a little fun time. This is a win win for me! 

Here’s the major detail for the Festival The admission is FREE with registration


Big time Chefs Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Chicago’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken, whose delicious food much of it locally and sustainably sourcedc will conduct a chef demo on our Chefs at Play stage after a brief awards ceremony. Rick Bayless of the Frontera restaurant group, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year; Rob Levitt, the award-winning head butcher at The Butcher & Larder at Local Foods; Paula Haney of Hoosier Mama Pie Company; and Aaron Lirette of Green River. And there will be an amazing demo by the Artisan Grain Collaborative on growing and milling artisan grain — and then baking the flour into delicious, locally sourced sourdough bread.

There will also be vendors, a food court to eat with your family, and tons of workshops to explore. The Good Food Festival will definitely be full of things to do for the whole family. I was able to sample some of the fun at the Media Preview and I left full and empowered. 

Special thank you to Johanna from MommaCuisine for putting together such a cool collection of Bloggers to be ambassadors. 

A few vendors came to show the media what was in store for the attendees on Saturday and I must say I was impressed! 


I tried the best crepes EVER! Basil Key lime pie that almost made me ask for seconds and pierogies made with braised beef that I’ve dreamed about since.

There is something about eating with family and friends that makes food even tastier. My mother who always helps me at different blogging events attended the Preview and my husband who is the Head Cook at a High End hotel was off work and attended the Preview with me as well. Since he’s a true foodie it was fun to see him try the foods and speak with the other cooks in the place.



My friend Briana came from work to hang out with me and check out some of the vendors.  She’s a working mom and an excellent cook so I’m sure she learned a few new recipes and techniques at the event. As a mom I totally appreciate her arranging a sitter to come out 


My blogger boos always come out to support and we have the best convos! 


Of course my co-ambassador Natasha is my sister from another mother she keeps me laughing and in the loop of the professional blogging world. Her blog has encouraged me in more ways than one. Plus she’s an awesome cook!


My Blogalicious roomie and blogger boo Sharice from This Single Sole who is a foodie and a health enthusiast came out as well. She’s such a supportive soul and I always enjoy hanging with her.


Fashion Blogger Guru Latoya made her fashionable entrance and hung out with us foodies. She keeps me laughing and always sees the potential in my brand and blog so it’s always amazing having her around.


My natural hair blogger boo Michelle checked out the event with her bright smile and warm personality. We just connected last year at a blogger conference, but since then we’ve definitely been working together. 

Joyce who is a Christian mom of 6 (doesn’t look like she’s had one baby) has a blog about food and fitness so the Good Food Festival Media Preview was a perfect fit for her. She came out to support me and since I hadn’t seen her since I was pregnant with Chance it felt really good to just catch up while tasting good food.


Last week’s Media Preview was a success and a really cool snippet to this weekend’s Good Food Festival. I hope to see you there

Preparing for Christmas in the Fall! 

I know Fall just got here, but I’m mentally already in the Winter season preparing for Christmas. Since Dereon is 9 and pretty mature his Christmas list has slowly started to change and he started asking for less items, but now the few things he does list is pretty expensive And since Baby Chance is only 1 we will get him a few little things for him to open up on Christmas morning, but nothing too major. So to be proactive this year I told him to write his Christmas list a little earlier than the traditional November time frame. He came up with 10 things and half of them were very inexpensive so I smiled with glee, but then as the list continued I saw more tech savvy items like a Drone which isn’t cheap. I sighed. A drone? Really? The wheels in my head started to turn and I realized that I could get the Drone and the few other items he requested if I started knocking them out now. No reason in waiting until December to shop when you already know what you are getting.

I made a few calls and found out that Walmart’s Christmas layaway is in full force and that I can start shopping now and making payments to pay my total off. How awesome is that? But wait it gets better! Kmart has a layaway too and it’s active throughout the year. 

Not only is Layaway a good way to prepare early for Christmas, but here are a few other tips to get you ready for the season to be jolly.

1. Make a list of everyone you are buying a gift for and come up with a budget.

2. Stick to your budget! 

3. Look online for the items on your list. I’ve seen huge price differences from online prices and instore prices. 

4. If you shop at a certain store for your Christmas shopping then start buying gift cards for that store now. $5 here…$10 there…adds up. If you do this a few times in October alone you could have a $100 gift card balance by November to help tackle Santa’s long list.

5. Be realistic! If it’s something on your list that you can’t afford, don’t fret. For example your hubby wants a 50″ 3D TV and it’s not in your budget try to see if you can get him a pair of those virtual reality glasses & game bundle packs. Or give him some cash or a gift card on that big ticket item in a cool card. Don’t stress or go into debt for a Christmas gift because then you are missing the real reason for the season!
Happy Shopping guys! I’ll be back with more money saving tips, holiday gift guides, and giveaways for this Christmas season.

The Tooth Fairy stopped by this weekend

Yup, you read that right. The Tooth Fairy visited our home this weekend. Dereon lost two teeth Saturday. His two bottom teeth have been loose for a few months now, but within the last week he’s been complaining of a toothaches.

Saturday afternoon Dereon started wriggling the teeth and I told him it would soon be time that he would be “snag a tooth”. Lol. To help speed up the process I told him to snack on a apple. And that REALLY helped. But the teeth were still there just… hanging. My mom was going to pull them out with tweezers (I know that sounds weird,  but I trust my mom. Heehee.) However when Dereon noticed those silver things he freaked out. Super dad came to the rescue and pulled them out with a quick twist. Within 60 seconds Dereon was missing two teeth:)

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I kissed the hubby because with his help Dereon was so relived. He said he felt free! Of course I giggled, what 6 year old you know says they feel “free”?  Anywho we placed the two teeth in a ziploc bag and placed it under Dereon’s pillow. Before he headed to bed later that night he asked a million questions, “would the Tooth Fairy wake him up?” Or “would she forget about him?” I reassured him that everything would be fine and that he would be happy when he wakes up. Since he fell asleep on the couch a few minutes later I was able to hide the cash under his pillow and move the teeth. He scored $1 per tooth. The next morning he was ecstatic and my job as fairy was done…for now.

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5 tips to help you save money for Christmas 2013

So it’s no point of acting like it’s not right around the corner…yep. Christmas! Santa is busy making his toys and you should be busy stacking your coins so you won’t be super stressed this Holiday Season. Even though we all know Jesus is the reason for the season, I have come up with 5 tips to help you prepare yourself as well as your wallet for Christmas 2013:

1. Pack your lunch – That’s right. No more Mickey D’s or Wendy’s or Olive Garden for lunch!(Well at least not every day). You can save a ton of money by bringing your lunch to work. If you spend $5 a day for lunch that’s $25 a week and that’s only if you spend $5 (which I doubt). If you do the math that’s $50 every two weeks. That $50 could go on that Grand Theft Auto 5 video game your son has been talking your ear off about.

2. Layaway – I have heard so many bad things about layaway, but the truth is it’s great. Get all the hot items safely put up with only a small percentage down and a schedule date for payments, to keep you on track. Perfect! This is the best way to go for those really on a tight budget and or for those that has a kid that wants all the latest and greatest toys that clear the shelves quick.

3. Black Friday – I love Black Friday! Most of the people who don’t like Black Friday has had a bad experience or didn’t plan right. That’s ok. We have all done that before. The key is to research, plan and execute. Look at what store is offering what and is it worth you being up at 5am? Plan what time you are going and go! Sadly, being late by 10 minutes can cost you so make sure you are going by yourself or with dedicated shoppers.

4. List – Hi Santa. What do you have for me? Even Santa’s got a list. People spend way too much money when they go in to the stores without a plan and no list! You buy things that grab your attention because it looks like a steal or it’s just too cute! Well that’s going to hurt you. You need a list. Who, What, What store, and price. You have to know what you are there for because if not you will walk the aisle aimlessly picking up items that will may throw your budget completely off.

5. Envelopes – After you have your list completed, put how much you are spending on each person. Then grab a few small envelopes and write the person initials with the amount you are spending (write this very small). As you get paid add to the different envelopes. Once you are saved up and ready to go shopping grab your envelopes and keep to the budget! Once you spend all the money in that envelope on that person you need to reevaluate what else you are trying to buy them and look at what you already have bought. Do they really need it? No. Then their list is complete! Time to start wrapping. But if it is on the top of their list, take the least desirable gift back and use that money to get that must have gift. The key here is to stay on BUDGET.

If we start applying these rules now I believe we will have more sanity this Holiday season!

Let us remember Christmas is about love, family and Jesus. If we can keep that in mind before the madness starts and during we might make it to 2014. LOL

Money Saving Back to school lunch & snack idea: DIY Uncrustables

I am not a DIY person at all. Not crafty remotely, but I always have cool ideas and love when someone else can figure out how to do it. LOL. This recipe or creation you may call it came from a friend of mine Miss Gekeetah. She knows how to make almost anything to help save money or just to learn something new and I admire her for that. Since she knew that Dereon went back to school she wanted to share with me her tricks on making lunches and snacks for cheap! So who would turn down that offer? NOT ME! So Sunday night she came over and while the VMAs played in the living room we prepared our own version of Uncrustables!

Let me first say it was a lot of fun and Dereon got a thrill out of helping making them as well. Gekeetah told us what to do and how to do it while taking pictures so this was all created by the kiddo and I (we are pretty proud can’t you tell?)

Now normally a pack of Smuckers Uncrustables cost around $4 a box which only includes 4. You can get Strawberry and Peanut butter or Grape and Peanut butter. Dereon loves these, but $4 is kind of pricey for only 4 sandwiches. When Gekeetah told me we could make 12 sandwiches for the same price or less I was all game.

Here is what you need to make around 12 Uncrustables:
Peanut Butter
Jelly or Jam (Whatever flavor you like you can even mix them up)
1 loaf of bread (white, wheat, whole grain, etc)
A Sandwich sealer (easily found a Dollar Tree or Walmart, no need to get a pricey one the $1 version is perfect)
That’s ALL you need and most of these items you already have!!!

Here is how you make your Uncrustables:
1. Lay out how many slices of bread you will be using on wax paper or a cookie sheet. (2 slices of bread per Uncrustable)
2. Spread Peanut butter on all the slices of bread
3. Place one spoonful of jelly in the center of one slice of bread per pair. (2 pieces of bread per Uncrustable both slices have peanut butter on them only one has a spoonful of jelly on top)
4. Pair the sandwiches up, but be sure not to smash the bread.
5. Center the sandwich sealer in the middle of the bread and press down. Making sure the whole sandwich is sealed and the crusts are off. You may have to keep the sealer on while cleaning the left over crust off.
6. Flash freeze your Uncrustables in the freezer for 2 hours (Place them on a plate or cookie sheet with nothing over them).
7. Take them out of the freezer and you can place all 12 in one huge Ziploc freezer bag or wrap them individually in sandwich bags.
8. Return them back to the freezer and you are done! They take about an hour and a half to thaw out so in the morning grab a Uncrustable and throw it in their lunch bag and they will be all set to go. If you want to use this as a after school snack then grab an Uncrustable in the morning and place it in the fridge and once the kiddo is home from school they can feast on their crust free PB&J!

My Summary
Prep time was less than 3 minutes and the actual making of the Uncrustables was about 20 minutes for 12 sandwiches. The flash freezing was 2 hours and while I had them flash freezing I was ironing school uniforms and tucking the kiddo in bed. After that was done I was ready to take them out the freezer to bag them individually and that took about 5 minutes and then I placed them back in the freezer and was done with his school snack for 2 whole weeks. I also added about 10 fruit juice boxes in the refrigerator for the week since he swear he is about to die from thirst every day after school. I am super excited that I was able to do his myself, save money, and be more prepared for the week so I would encourage all moms to try this out!

FYI: This is a great snack for adults too! Especially if you snack a lot at work this is a healthy snack alternative!

Also you can save the crust and make homemade bread crumbs! Another way to save a few dollars!

Do you do weekly meal prep or snack bagging for the week? Or are you just a DIY pro? I would love to know more about it.

Mothers gaining angels?

Mother’s Day….such a special day, I’ve spent several school years making cards and arts and crafts for the two most important women in my life. Every year they would act surprised and shocked and explain how my “gift” would be placed on their desk at work or placed on the fireplace at home so all could see. I beamed every time thankful that my gift was well received & perfectly crafted. Once I started high school the buying gifts dilemma started, what do you buy a woman that has everything? What do you buy someone with $13? Of course a teddy bear and card! What mom doesn’t need that? But you can’t repeat that the following year so a coffee mug is a must to have down on the list. Each year I bought random gifts and my mom loved each one, by this time my mom would buy my gift for my grandma and I would just add my name to the card.

Once I became a mother I realized that the homemade gifts ARE beautiful and the cards with  the words Mother’s Day mushed up together are priceless. My grandma and mom weren’t playing, there were really happy that I took time out of my busy play time to focus and create a masterpiece for them. I love seeing my child so happy to honor all the moms in his life, it’s a blessing in itself.

Now as a adult and a mom myself I spend more money on my mom’s gift and a longer time picking out a card…not because I have to prove to her that she was the best mom ever, but just to show her I appreciate all she has done for me and my family and that I’m grateful she’s my mom.

In 2008 my grandmother passed away and my mother lost her mother… My mom lost her best friend. I lost one of my best friends…I thought how could we go on? How can we celebrate Mother’s Day again without grandma?! I couldn’t phantom smiling and embracing Mother’s day knowing I could never give my grandmother a card or a new housecoat or pair of slippers again. But what really made me stop and think was mom would no longer have a mother! She wouldn’t be able to hug the woman that brought her into the world. The first Mother’s Day after my grandma’s passing came and it was almost like any Mother’s Day until we talked about my grandmother and how she would dress sharp as a tact & have her Mother’s Day hat on with the rest of the Mothers of the Church. I began to mourn all over, not just for me losing my grandmother, but for my mom losing her mom. I couldn’t imagine not having my mother. No matter how she may irk a nerve every now and then, she is my mother and I am her first born! This is the woman that kissed my boo boos, hot combed my hair Sunday nights, and saved money so every Christmas was better than the last. The woman who carried me 9 months and still carries me to this day spiritually and emotionally when I’m down.

 

The strength my mother shows is remarkable and I know there are a lot of other women and men mourning the loss of a mother or a grandmother I want to encourage you and let you know that each year that passes you get stronger and know you didn’t lose a loved one…you gained an angel!

P.S.
To those who are blessed to still have your mother and or grandmother in your life please cherish these moments and not just on holidays but everyday.