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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Please hurry on out of here, 2020!!

Hey y'all....

Well,  2020 has been my least favorite year.  For sure!!

A lot of changes for us.

I filed for divorce this year.   I should have done it years ago.  But I was comfortable in an uncomfortable situation, and I was thankful that I was able to be home with my kids. I thought I could make it until my son graduated.  But in the end, I just couldn't let us stay in this situation.  If I could go back in time, I sure would have filed earlier and saved us all a lot of heartache.  But it is what it is!

I worked outside my home for the first time in 17 years.  I loved every minute of it, but the pay was horrible.  Like barely over minimum wage. Staying home with my kids cost me my job skills.  I still wouldn't change that - my kids were worth every bit of it.

Then Covid shut everything down.  My job,  then the courts, so the divorce was in limbo.

Finally seeing a little hope that maybe I will be divorced this year, and that I will be able to go back to work soon.  I have several risk factors that make me more susceptible to Covid, so I'm nervous about going back to work in a school, which is where I was working when things shut down. 

I'm so grateful my family and friends have been safe from Covid.  I do have a few friends online who have had it.  Both have recovered, but have lingering symptoms and issues that will probably remain for quite some time.  Scary.

My son will start school online next month.  Not how he pictured his Junior year.  But we're making the best of it. Frankly,  we're all ready for 2021 and hopefully some better things coming our way!

How are you handling 2020 and all the craziness?

I'll be back soon with some timely information to share!




Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Let's talk Cruises!!

Happy 2020, y'all!! I've got a million things going on, but wanted to share the amazing experience I had in December on Carnival Cruises. 

My Mom offered to pay for a cruise to the Bahamas if I'd go with her. Yes Please!! She LOVES cruising, but didn't have anyone to go with.  Also, this was our first Mother-Daughter trip. Yay! So, we started planning in late September.  I was so excited, because I've always wanted to go on a cruise!  There were lots of resources online to plan a cruise.

After looking at a few different cruise lines, Carnival is the one we decided to go with, as Mom is a member of their VIFP club.  We were given an upgrade from deck 6 to deck 10 because of her points.   We decided to go with a balcony cabin, and to purchase the Faster to the Fun package.  This allows you to board the ship earlier, and leave earlier on your return to the port.  More on that later! We also prepaid our gratuities. 

I watched a ton of videos on youtube, because I am a planner.  I like to know where I'm going and what it will be like.  Our ship was the Liberty, and there were plenty of videos there to help me get a feel for the ship and what to expect.  Our three-day cruise was scheduled for December 20-23, 2019.

Packing for the cruise was pretty easy.  Mom's got a VW bug, so we each had room for one suitcase and one carry-on in her car.  I checked the weather sites for the forecast.  It looked like it would be a bit chilly, so no bathing suit needed, and I only took one pair of shorts.  I took several pairs of leggings, a pair of black pants, two pairs of shoes, five or six shirts (I like options!) and of course, undies, bras, socks and sleepwear.  I also took a duster to throw on over the tops if it got chilly.  (And it did!)

In addition, I took a backpack to carry on deck, a lanyard, my phone and charger, camera (don't forget the batteries like I did - grrrrrr), several books for me and Mom, a hat, jewelry to dress up my outfits if needed, and my light-up Christmas necklace and buffalo check antlers for the day we disembarked.  (Christmas Eve eve! Be festive!)   And of course, toiletries and my purse.

We drove to Cocoa Beach from N. Georgia the day before our cruise.  We stayed at a Hampton Inn that was about 10 minutes from where we planned to park for the cruise.  We got there, ordered pizza and went to bed! Woke up early the next morning, and had breakfast downstairs.  Then a quick stop at Ron Jon Surf Shop for some goodies for my kiddos. 

Next, we drove to the parking lot for Park N Cruise - I'll share more about them in another post.  Mom paid for a covered spot for her car - she loves that car like it's her baby! 

After a short wait, we boarded a shuttle and headed to the terminal! After we got off the bus there, our bags were handed to the porter to be delivered to our room later that day.  We went through the various check-ins and sat in the First to the Fun seating area. We were able to board right after the Platinum and Diamond VIPF members were allowed on the ship.  We ended up boarding at 11:10 am. When they called us, we walked through the terminal and over several gangways to get on the ship.






The Liberty is HUGE!! And beautiful! Everything was decorated for Christmas. We entered through the lobby and were directed to the Lido deck, #9.  That is where most of the food places are, plus a pool, and lots of seating areas. Oh, and bars - Yes!

Mom and I decided to head to Guy's Burger Joint before it got crowded.   Yum, yum, yum, y'all!! Best burger I've had in a while! The topping bar made it easy to customize your burger your way. 






We ate inside the buffet area. (the picture above was taken in the outside but covered area by the pool deck).  We didn't purchase the Cheers package, so we only got free drinks from the buffet.  Those included unsweetened tea, (my fave, so yay!),  lemonade, coffee and water. My tip- take a big insulated mug on your cruise - the cups they provide are literally 8 or 10 oz - so small! I like to carry a drink around, so my Corksicle kept drinks cold and icy.   The little yellow cup below is what is offered at all beverage stations on the Lido deck.  If you purchase the Bottomless Bubbles or Cheers package, they will bring you a can of soda or other drink with a regular glass.




I grabbed a slice of German Chocolate cake for dessert while we waited for our cabin.  The dessert table at the buffet was insane!! So many choices - citrus buttercream cheesecake, elderflower cheesecake, peanut butter cake, cookies, pastries, ice cream and so much more!  No picture, unfortunately!

Around 12:45 or 1, we went to deck 10 and located our stateroom.  Our bags hadn't arrived, so I went back down to deck 9 and ordered a big ol' Tropical Colada.   I relaxed and enjoyed my drink by a window in one of the bars, and shared a Facebook live as we sailed out of the port.  Then I put my phone in airplane mode and got myself into vacation mode!  Yes - I unplugged for 3 full days and it was AWESOME!


Once we got out from the port, I went back to the room and met up with Mom.  After a few minutes, our bags arrived.  We got settled in, and then it was time for the muster drill.  That was my least favorite part of the entire cruise.  I get claustrophobic and there were so many people in our muster area.  It took about 35 minutes, crammed and sweaty in a huge crowd.  I was so happy when that was over, and I could go back to our stateroom!

**If you are like me, and don't know what a muster drill is, it's a safety meeting to show you how to use the life jackets.  It shows you where to go if there is an emergency, too.**

I spent some time out on the balcony enjoying the wonderful ocean view. It started raining so I headed in to get ready for our 6:00 pm dinner seating.....I'll share that, and pics of our room on my next post! Stay tuned!



Have you ever cruised?  Which line is your favorite?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Samplesource.com ~ Great chance to try before you buy!!

Have you signed up for samplesource.com? I got all of these in my October box!

It's awesome to get these every month!! Sign up on their site and you will get a heads up when there are new products to choose from, and you just add them to your box. 

I also got a free coupon for a bag of potatoes (up to $7.99 value!) and one for $2 off of the Persil detergent. Not a bad mail day!!



Saturday, August 17, 2019

Dazzle Dogs restaurant in Lawrenceville, GA #Dazzledogs

David and I found the funnest, most unique place to eat a few months ago!

Dazzle Dogs is tucked next to a gas station on Braselton Highway in Lawrenceville, Ga.  It's a small place, and you'll want to either order ahead by phone, or be ok with waiting.  You will wait for a while! But trust us, the food is worth the wait!

They have some really cool gourmet hot dog options here.  My favorite is the St. Bernard - a hot dog with chili, cheese and fritos!  The Georgia Bulldog is topped with pulled pork, coleslaw and barbeque sauce.  Yum!  The fries are hand cut and absolutely delicious!  They also make hamburgers, hoagies and Philly cheesesteaks, plus wings.

St. Bernard Dog 


But the real claim to fame at Dazzle Dogs are the Dazzle shakes.  They are massive, completely overflowing with the most amazing treats.  David got the Oreo Dazzle Shake and oh. my. goodness! It's $11.99 and you will agree it's worth every penny.  They come in plastic cups so you can take it to go if you need to.  (You will!)


This oreo shake also has mini oreos embedded in frosting covered with oreo crumbs on the rim of the cup, oreos, marshmallows, a big slice of oreo cheesecake AND behind that, a giant Oreo ice cream sandwich.  Plus an oreo milkshake under it all!! 

We took a few pics - but you've GOT to check them out for yourself!! Like I said, be prepared to wait.  We waited over 30 minutes for our fries and hot dog, and almost an hour for the milkshake.  But we knew from reviews that there would be a wait, so we were prepared for it! I said it before, but it really is worth waiting for - delish, unique food will be your reward!

Go here to see the menu and ways you can customize the Dazzle shakes!

Dazzle Dogs is located at 1925 Braselton Highway in Lawrenceville, Ga.  They are open every day except Sunday.  You can find them on Facebook (@Dazzle Dogs restaurant)  and Instagram (@DogDazzle)

If you have been, share your experience in the comments below!!




Sunday, July 28, 2019

Canvas Factory Giveaway!! *ended*

I love taking pictures.  I have so many prints that are waiting to go into scrapbooks.  But some of my favorites get put into frames so I can enjoy them daily.  I also love to have my favorite shots turned into canvas prints.  There is something special about turning your 4x6 photo into a beautiful canvas for your wall.

So....I'm excited to be working with Canvas Factory for another giveaway!

Their website makes it so easy to order your canvas.  Just pick the size you want, upload your photo (from your laptop, phone, Insta, FB, Dropbox or Flickr) and voila - you'll have your beautiful, high-quality canvas in days! The process couldn't get any easier.

The canvas on the bottom normally hangs in my son's room, but I moved it here to show both canvases. 

Close up of the latest canvas on the bottom! 
The two canvases in my pictures are both from Canvas Factory.  The top one is my kids on my daughter's graduation day.  The one resting on the mantle is the latest one I've ordered.  It is of my son and two great friends he met at the Duke TIP summer program last year.  I had to cover the girls' faces since I don't have permission to share them with the world, but you can still see the fantastic quality of the print.  The photo that was used for the canvas was taken on my iPhone, no fancy camera or anything!

I love the quality of my Canvas Factory canvases, and the care they take in shipping them.  It was packaged so carefully and I received it in perfect condition.

Canvas Factory is giving one of my readers their own canvas, too! Just enter through Rafflecopter below and stay tuned to see who wins!!
(I have a new IG so be sure to follow the new one as one of your entries, too!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Medieval Times Atlanta Castle Giveaway and Back to School Drive! #MTFAN *ended*

Medieval Times Atlanta Castle ~ Family 4 pack GIVEAWAY! 

photo credit ~ Medieval Times Atlanta

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament’s Atlanta Castle is dedicated to “Chivalry in Action” and in honor of this philanthropic mission, they need our help for their largest-ever back to school drive.

For the first time ever, they will be providing 750 book bags to 15 pre-selected Atlanta-Area Schools!

So how can you help?  If you are local you can drop off new school supplies at their Sugarloaf Mills location - 5900 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville GA 30043


Now through July 28th, guests who donate at least one unused school supply per ticket when visiting the Atlanta castle will receive up to $22.00 off their adult-priced tickets. Guest must show proof of donated items upon arrival at the Box Office.  Such a great way to help local kids be prepared for back to school! #ChivalryinAction

Want to win a family 4 pack of your own to visit Medieval Times Atlanta?  

Enter via rafflecopter below!! 

The person who will be donating the most supplies to this awesome back to school drive wins the family 4 pack of tickets!! Woohoo! (Minimum of 1 supply per person/ticket)




To be eligible you must be local to Atlanta, and be able to visit Medieval Times by July 28, 2019.  I will notify the winner on the 24th and you have 24 hours to confirm that you can attend.  Of course, you will need to take your school supply donation when you visit MT, too! You'll get a fun night out, and local kids will get much-needed school supplies! 

I'll be attending Medieval Times with my friend Dana and our daughters next week.  Follow me on IG, FB and Twitter to watch all the fun!! I've got some awesome school supplies to donate, too! 

Comments are not working for some reason, so please enter via Rafflecopter and I will pick a winner from there - so sorry for the issues blogger is having! 


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Try My Delicious Low-Carb Recipe For Corn Fritters - Perfect Summer Side Dish!

Following a low-carb diet makes me feel so much better.  My blood sugar levels are close to normal again, and the weight is coming off steadily.  I'm excited to keep going with this low-carb way of eating! It's such a healthy lifestyle choice and my body is truly happy when I follow it.  I did take some time off last week while on vacation, but getting back to my healthy, low-carb eating plan now.

For the 4th of July, I made burgers and chicken, but I sure was craving corn fritters as a side dish. However, corn is usually avoided on a low-carb diet, as it is a starchy vegetable.

Looking in my freezer and cabinets, I came up with this recipe using the ingredients I had on hand. Adding a minimal amount of corn gave it the flavor and texture I wanted, and cauliflower rice is such a great low-carb vegetable.  Along with the eggs, the "rice" held the batter together.   Although it's not my favorite vegetable,  I'm learning that cauli rice is a great ingredient to keep on hand.  I'm so happy that these turned out to be tasty and satisfying! And the carb count is wonderful per serving size. This recipe also includes healthy fats if you use coconut or avocado oil for frying.

This recipe made approximately 16 small fritters. I've popped the extras in my freezer and hope they still taste good later!


Low Carb Cauliflower/Corn Fritters

3 eggs, beaten
1 12 oz bag frozen Trader Joe's Organic Cauliflower Rice, thawed and drained in colander
3/4 cup canned corn
1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 to 3/4 c almond flour (start with 1/2 cup, add more if needed, until your batter is thickened to your liking)
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Add by heaping Tablespoon to a hot skillet (I fried these in butter, but you can also use healthy fats such as coconut or avocado oil) These take a little longer to cook than traditional fritters, so wait until the edges are very firm to flip them. Cook until browned on both sides. Serve warm.

Toppings:  For a savory treat, you can add a dollop of sour cream or coconut cream with more sea salt or even a dash of cayenne pepper on top.  Try dipping in some sugar-free maple syrup if you want a sweeter treat!  I also tried a little Balsamic Vinegar on one of these and it was fabulous too!



Batter for the fritters



Still not ready to flip!


Cauliflower/Corn Fritters!


Recipe/nutritional counts calculated with first 5 ingredients only,  and calculated with 1/2 c of almond flour.

Per 4 fritter serving:

230 calories
14.1 g fat
174 mg cholesterol
308 mg sodium
11.46 g carbs
4.25 g fiber
6.23 g sugar
14 g protein

7.22 net grams carbs per serving













Thursday, July 4, 2019

My Favorite Keto products and Low Carb products!

So I'm back on the keto/low carb bandwagon.  I'm not going to let my health suffer because I make poor choices anymore!

Low carb with a lot of keto choices is my best way to lose weight, lower my blood sugar and improve how I feel.  It's been two weeks and I'm finding some new-to-me favorites that are making it easy to stick to this way of life!

Affiliate links ahead - if you choose to purchase from my link, I'll receive a small commission. 

1.  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Quest Bars! I've only tried two of them, but these are already a must-have.  I prefer to heat them in the microwave for about 15 seconds.  Then I eat it with a fork - it's soft and a little fluffy, like cookie dough!  Edited to add: Ok - add the chocolate sprinkled doughnut flavor to my favorites - it's incredible!



2.  Quest Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies - I heat these up just like the bars.  The soft, warm cookie is such a delicious treat, and it really fills you up!


3. Slim Jims - these meat sticks made of beef, pork and chicken give you a boost of protein, a satisfying snap when you bite into them, and a delicious, slightly spicy flavor.  I usually have one or two in my purse!  If you are in a pinch, most Dollar Tree stores carry a four pack that is a perfect on the go burst of protein!

4.  Kerrygold Irish Cheddar - the BEST cheese I've ever had! Sharp, rich and smooth, it's awesome melted into eggs or eating it alone.  Super delicious! I got mine at Sam's Club.

5.  Member's Mark Oven Baked Parmesan Crisps.  I was missing the crunch of crisp crackers and these fit the bill perfectly! I got mine a little cheaper at Sam's, but if you don't have a membership, you can get them here.

6.  Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip - I get this at Sam's, too.  I am not linking to Amazon because their price is outrageous!! Head to Sam's or ask a friend to pick it up for you.  Really good heated up, but just as tasty right out of the fridge!

7.  Aldi Elevation Bars - these are only available at Aldi. They are really tasty and they fill you up for a while!

8.  Justin's Cinnamon Almond Butter - this is pure heaven in a little packet! Cinnamon and almond butter combine for the perfect snack on the go.

I'll be adding to this list as I find new things I can't live without on my journey to getting healthy. Hope this helps give you ideas for different snacks and food while on Keto.  I am finding the more prepared I am with easy to grab foods, the less chance for me to mess up!

What are your go-to Keto or Low Carb snacks?  Please leave yours in the comments below.


Thanks for stopping by!





Monday, July 1, 2019

Red Oak Lavender Farm ~ Dahlonega, GA

I love using herbs, botanicals and essential oils.  Especially lavender! I have a sleep mist, linen spray, bath salts, bath bombs and more that use this flower's calming fragrance.  It's definitely a favorite scent!

Three years ago, we first heard of Red Oak Lavender Farm.  I took my son to visit in the summer of 2016 and it was all I could have hoped for!  Beautiful gardens with rows of lavender, and the most amazing gift shop with homemade goodies and more!  Spending time out with the lavender is so peaceful and calming! Butterflies are everywhere and there are so many photo opportunities!

We took lots of pictures, and I knew wanted to come back soon.  However, an allergy to bees and other stinging insects made my son nervous to come back - bees are all over the farm, doing their thing!  So I didn't get to visit for a while.

Last summer my friend Katherine visited Atlanta from Houston.  She, like me, loves lavender and other essential oils.  So I knew she would appreciate a visit there.  She traveled with her one year old, and I think he enjoyed it too - lots of room to walk and explore!

This farm is not like the huge ones you see pictured in France or the Pacific Northwest with row after row of lavender.  Georgia does not have the ideal climate for lavender, but these folks have made it possible with a lot of hard work!  They have approximately 2.5 acres of lavender - about 60 rows that are 100 feet long.  They grow over 20 varieties of lavender on the farm.  It's really amazing, considering this plant should not grow here due to our humidity, clay, and other factors.

The family that owns the farm lives in the house attached to the gift shop. Not only do they harvest the lavender to sell, they distill the oil from plants to make pampering treats for you.  There are also culinary treats like Lavender Sugar, Lavender and Pink Himalayan Salt, and Herbs de Provence.  Those busy bees out by the lavender make the most delicious lavender honey.  You can get it fresh from the farm here!

I've purchased linen sprays, lavender-filled bookmarks, bunches of dried lavender, lavender soap, lavender honey, and a few other wonderful gifts there for myself or family/friends. The prices are great and the products are lovely.  Please check it out when you go!

Here it is, summertime again.  I'm ready for another relaxing trip to Red Oak.  I hope you will give them a visit, too!  There is a $5 fee for adults to visit during June, but now that it is July, entry is free!  From my home in NE Gwinnett, it was less than an hour drive to get there.

Check out this video I made on our visit last year!

And here are some of my favorite pictures from both visits...
D back in 2016.  He's grown up since then - now he is tall and skinny! 

Baby Lennox got his picture taken in this adorable butterfly chair last summer.



Sign from 2016 - they grow double that, now! 

Bee Hives!



Parking is in the front yard or along the driveway.  For special events, they offer parking at a neighbor's farm across the street.

Don't forget to visit the gift shop!





It smells so lovely, too - the scent of lavender is everywhere.



Here's what you need to know to plan your visit!

Red Oak Lavender Farm
2882 Red Oak Flats Road
Dahlonega, GA 30533
Phone: 706-974-8230 during business hours
March 1 - December 15 ~ Wednesday - Friday 11 - 3  Saturday 10 - 4
Closed on July 3 & 4, 2019
Email: RedOakLavender@gmail.com


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Delicious food from Talmo Market Grill ~ Talmo, GA

A little over a year ago, my sister, mom and I met for lunch.  They asked me to meet them at Talmo Market Grill.  I had no idea where Talmo was, but I agreed!

Turns out that Talmo is not that far from my neck of the woods in NE Gwinnett county.  It's a sleepy little place that feels like the middle of nowhere, yet it only takes me about 20 minutes to get there.

Located across the street from the railroad tracks, you can either park in the small parking area, or over by the tracks.  Get there early - this is a small place and you might have to wait on a table otherwise!

The food here is simple and delicious - burgers rule the menu, (hand formed and made with grass-fed TALMO RANCH beef) but they also offer other items like chicken salad, pimento cheese, BLTs, Frito pie, or salads.  Sides include fries, potato salad, pasta salad or chili.

For dessert, there are daily specials, plus shakes, floats and rice krispie treats.



There are a few tables at the front of the restaurant, where you will place your order.  There are more in the back room, down the hall.   The building is older, and the decor is vintage to match.  It's such a comfy, cozy place to eat!

I've had a burger there, which was delicious.  The chicken salad has become my favorite thing, though!  The fries are freshly cut, hot and so good!  My sister has had salads and a burger there and they were both great.  My mom loves the burgers, too.

We shared a dessert on one visit, I think it was a cherry turnover ala mode.  It was perfect!!

Burger with pimento cheese - yum!! 








my sister's salad - she topped it with a burger patty



They also offer breakfast and it's as good as you'd imagine!! Biscuits are huge and filled with eggs, bacon or sausage - the perfect start to your day.  We got there when they opened and that was a great time to be there - it was filling up by the time we left! 


the back dining room 

Order at the front counter 

Check this board for dessert options and daily specials! 

Talmo Market Grill is located at 558 Main St. Talmo, Georgia and their hours are 7 am to 2 pm, every day but Sunday. (Closed on Sunday!)  UPDATE:  They are closed the week of July 4th, 2019! Reopening on July 8

Check out their Facebook page here!

Have you been to Talmo Market Grill?  Tell me what your favorite thing is there!