Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bring-Your-Own-Cup Days at 7-Eleven!!!

This Friday and Saturday, August 18th-19th, 11 AM – 7 PM, you can bring your own cup to 7-Eleven and fill it with Slurpee for just $1.50!!!  Here are the details:


Step 1


Bring your custom cup into 7-Eleven on Aug 18 + Aug 19 from 11am -  7pm

Step 2


Fill your cup with as much Slurpee drink as you want for just $1.50

Step 3


Share a pic of your cup creation with #BYOCupDay


Cup must fit upright within 10” hole

Cup must be food-safe clean

Cup must be watertight

One cup per person, on BYO Cup Day, please

Available at participating locations
(Not available in Cook County, Illinois).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Our Fort Worth Animals…and Haylee’s 13th Birthday!

So when we moved to Fort Worth in late June, we brought with us our two dogs, our three turtles, and a portable tank with two fish in it.  We almost brought one hamster along, but as I mentioned a few weeks ago, our dogs killed him on our last night in VA.  Sad smile

Since we’ve been here, we’ve expanded our animal collection just a bit.  After all, it wouldn’t feel much like home if we weren’t surrounded with our animal friends!

So we started off by getting Haylee a baby hamster for her 13th birthday.  We drove all over tarnation to pick it up.  She had her heart set on a baby teddy bear hamster that she found on Craigslist.  It was in a really unsavory part of town, so I took a picture of the house before we went inside and texted it to my husband in case we were never heard from again, LOL.  Alas, it was quite adorable, but they literally probably had 100 baby hamsters in that house…just a chain of cages that lined a room, and it smelled like, too.  Ugh!  Haylee named her Penny, and she’s growing like a weed.  So adorable, isn’t she?  She keeps doing cute things like flipping over her food bowl to sleep inside for protection.

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And of course, then I had to go out the next day and replace my own beloved Cookie with another long-haired Syrian hamster, who I named Cocoa.  He’s so beautiful!  He was a bit jumpy at first…not really accustomed to human interaction just yet…but over the last few weeks, he has gradually gotten used to me and will come and let me hand-feed him treats and rub his back while he eats them.  We’re the best of friends now, and I love my Cocoa!


As a side note, my sister thinks it’s extremely odd that I always name my hamsters with food names.  Peaches…Cookie…Cocoa.  Is there something significant in that?  I’ll leave that up to you to decide.  hehe.  Smile

Then I had the task of setting up our three fish tanks rather than just the one in the kitchen.  Hayden has one for his room, and Haylee has one for her room.  There was a local place on the corner outside of our neighborhood called Fish Paradise, so we stopped in there and selected some fish.  It was a really messy, overcrowded store.  That should have been my first clue…that I could barely pass down the aisles.  Before long, the five Neon Tetras I bought for my tank not only died within a few days, but whatever was wrong with them killed the fish I brought from VA, as well…all within about a 24-hour period.  Very sad.  I’d had my Platys so long at the other house, and then they survived that 3-day drive in a portable tank in the hot weather, and they’d lived here for about a month, thriving.  Now they’re all dead.  The handful of fish Haylee has picked out also died, all at once, in her tank.  Only Hayden’s two fish survived, and they seem to be fine.  I definitely won’t be going back to that store again! 

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My water tested perfect, and so did Haylee’s, so it wasn’t that.  I let both tanks sit empty for a couple of weeks and added some stabilizer.  I wanted to let whatever contamination there was die off.  Then we ventured out and bought all new fish at a different pet store a bit further away.  This place seemed like a more professional aquarium, and they seemed to know their business.  They were familiar with Fish Paradise and said I should steer clear of there.  Clearly, that was the truth!  This new store was more expensive, but everything seemed well cared for.  So we picked out quite a variety of new fish, and they’ve all done well in both tanks.  I even got a golden mystery snail, and it cleaned up my tank in no time!

So now we have two dogs, three turtles, two hamsters, ten fish, and two snails.  That’s a lot of pets!


Monday of last week was Haylee’s 13th birthday.  Wow!  Now I have two teenagers in the house.  To think she began life as such a tiny, fragile little preemie, and now she’s entered the final stage before adulthood!  That’s so hard to believe.

She requested my homemade Mexican bean dip with tortilla chips for her birthday dinner, and a Funfetti cake with strawberry frosting as her birthday cake.

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Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Happy National Cheesecake Day!!!

In celebration of National Cheesecake Day, you’ll want to take advantage of this special offer. 

Today and tomorrow only, July 30-31st, you can stop by your local Cheesecake Factory and enjoy any slice of cheesecake for HALF PRICE!  This is for dine-in only, and a limit of one slice per customer. 



Friday, July 28, 2017

Our Housewarming Surprise

Well, we’ve been at our new home in Texas for just over a month now.  But I must say that we got off to a rough start.  On our very first day here, we had Spectrum Communications come out to install Charter Internet service.  They came the night we arrived and said they couldn’t do it and left, saying someone else would be out the next day.  So that first full day, a new person showed up.  I told my husband that he seemed nice enough but reminded me of Forrest Gump, and I wasn’t sure what we were going to get.

He tried two places in the house to set it up and said it wouldn’t work at either location. Then he came up with a third spot and said he thought he could make that work.  So he disappeared into the attic.  At that point, our moving truck had not arrived, so we had no fridge and no furniture of any kind.  The kids and I had run out to grab some food, and the kids and I were sitting on the windowsills eating when we heard a big crash.  I thought the guy had dropped some tools out of the attic access in the garage.  After a little while, the guy comes in and calmly says he just wanted us to know that he fell through the attic and that a manager would be coming out.  I said okay.  I thought he meant in the garage.  Next thing I know, my son drags me by the hand and says I have to come see this…the guy was gone (turns out he took himself to the hospital to get checked out), and there was a giant gaping hole in my rec room ceiling with insulation everywhere!

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Can you imagine the shock I felt?  The manager came out, along with a third but competent technician this time, and he was extremely apologetic and assured me that the damage would all be taken care of (and miraculously, the third technician was able to put the internet cables right where we wanted them the first time).  Of course, we then had to shut off that room and were unable to use it because of the extreme heat pouring into the room from the attic, but eventually, Steve was able to tape up the ceiling so we could use the room until we could get it all resolved.  We went back and forth with Spectrum, and they finally said we would have to coordinate getting an estimate from a professional contractor, and then they’d consider it and send us a check.  So we did that, and everything was approved to repair the drywall ceiling, matching the texture, and painting the ceiling.  We finally got the check in the mail today, so I’ve scheduled the repair for next Tuesday morning.  Yay!

Our next ordeal has been the pool, but I’ll save that for another post.  In any case, I’m glad we’re almost to the resolution on this unexpected surprise!

Monday, July 24, 2017

REVIEW: Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products

My 12-year old daughter was excited to get to review the Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products.


The Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit is a creativity pack that includes two 4 inch x 5 yard rolls of Rigid Wrap, one 8-oz. bag of CelluClay Instant Paper Mache, and access to complete instructions for twelve different projects.

This package is sure to inspire hours of creativity and fun in your children!  With so much material included in this one box, your child can makes lots of different projects and still have plenty of supplies left for future projects as they come up with their own ideas or use the ones included.  This kit is available for just $11.90!

You can have your FREE ebook called ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS delivered right to your inbox with the full instructions for those twelve craft projects.  It’s full of additional ideas for sculpting projects your kids can enjoy using both the Rigid Wrap and the CelluClay from the kit!


Haylee loves any kind of art, and she likes to explore different kinds of materials, too.  She’s used other Activa products in the past, such as the Color Plus Clay and the Rigid Wrap Plaster Cloth (which was a recommended supply item for the art curriculum we were using), and she has always enjoyed them.  Activa offers a variety of materials, but this Quik-Sculpting Kit was neat because it included a combination of both the Rigid Wrap and the CelluClay!  They can be used separately or together, so the possibilities are endless!  You are only limited by your own imagination.

DSCF4876Haylee was really impressed with the amount of both products that were included in this kit.  For under $12, we felt it was a great value.  She created four different projects during the review period, and she still had one full roll and most of the second roll of Rigid Wrap left, and she barely used any of the powder material for mixing the CelluClay.  She mixed a container full to make a smiley face, and I could hardly tell she had opened the bag!  So it will go a long way towards any projects you might have in mind.

DSCF4873Using the free ebook that I mentioned above, Haylee selected three projects that she wanted to try.  First, she made a variety of beads for the “bold beads” project using the Rigid Wrap material.  She cut the Rigid Wrap into strips, dipped them into a tub of water, and wrapped them around the ends of some straws.  Then she molded each one into the shape of beads that she wanted to make.  She allowed the beads to air dry on the straws for about half an hour and then painted them with acrylic paint for decoration.  Once the paint was dry, she removed them from the straws.  Very simple!  She’ll be able to string them easily (we just moved cross-country, and our elastic beading string is still packed).DSCF4871

For her second project, she used the included printable pattern from the ebook to make the “beautiful butterfly.” She used the pattern to cut out the butterfly shape from a piece of thick cardboard.  Then she wrapped it in wet strips of the Rigid Wrap.  She made sure the surface was nice and smooth.  She used a strip to make the shape of the head and body and applied it to the body.  When it was dry, she painted it.  It turned out so cute!

For her thirDSCF4872d project, she made the “piece of cake” from the idea book.  She started with two even blocks of Styrofoam to make the layers of the cake stacked together.  She wrapped the whole thing in wet strips of the Rigid Wrap material and allowed it to air dry before she painted it.  It was so lightweight when it was finished!  It looked neat.

Next, she started a fourth project of her own design.  She wanted to make a simple smiley face plaque out of the CelluClay material.  She mixed up a small batch using the powdered material and water by simply blending it in a container with her hands.  It’s easy to adjust the texture of the paper mache.  If you need to make it thicker, just add more powder.  If you need it thinner, just add more water until you reach the desired consistency.  She shaped it by hand and left it to air dry.  To speed up the drying process, you can bake it on the lowest setting of your oven with the door slightly ajar.  Her smiley face wasn’t quite dry enough paint yet, so I’m not including a picture just yet.  She said the material was easy to blend and shape.  You can mold it with your hands, with tools when it starts to harden slightly, or by putting it into a plastic mold.  You can even dip stamps in water and make impressions with them!

These materials are so versatile.  I’m sure your kids will come up with lots of creations using them!  The free ebook includes project instructions for things like an erupting volcano, an Egyptian sarcophagus, a mummy, a totem pole, a Mardi Gras mask, or a holiday candy bowl!  So you can make projects related to your homeschool studies or just for fun.  Just think of all the possibilities!  I know Haylee will be having fun with this kit for at least the rest of the summer.  It’s a great boredom buster!

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this kit by clicking the banner below.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Get Ready for 59-Cent Short Stack Pancakes @ IHOP!!!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 17th, is the 59th anniversary of IHOP.  What that means for you is that between 7 AM and 7 PM, you can get a short stack of pancakes for just 59 cents!!!

iHop Logo

59¢ anniversary PANCAKES

This is a treat my kids always look forward to. We find the best time to go is around 9 AM when everyone’s already gone to work and things quiet down again.  I always take my own syrup in my purse, because I use sugar-free and prefer Aunt Jemima’s over the Cary’s brand of sugar-free syrup that they offer at IHOP.  My kids, on the other hand, always enjoy experimenting with the many flavors of syrup supplied on the tables!  Whatever your preference, they have plenty to choose from.

See you there!

REVIEW: Trust Fund by Mapelle Films

I really enjoyed watching and reviewing the movie Trust Fund by Mapelle Films.


Trust Fund is a film that portrays a modern prodigal daughter story.  The main character, Reese Donahue, is the wealthy daughter of a successful publisher, and she makes a lot of bad decisions in haste and squanders a portion of the family fortune.

Mapelle Films offers a fresh look at an age-old bible story with which I think we’re all familiar.  There’s something special about this film, and I can’t wait to share why it pricked my heart in a new way!

Produced by Isaac Alongi, who was himself homeschooled through graduation, this film provides a wonderful opportunity to talk to your kids about the character issues that each person faces in this familiar story.  In fact, they offer a free downloadable study guide you can use in conjunction with the film for families and small group study.

In addition, you can purchase the companion book, Love Was Near, which takes you into the mind of Reese Donahue, what she was thinking, and what she realized on her journey from the lost daughter to the daughter that became what her father knew she could be.  It’s intended for girls ages 12 and up to read and discuss after watching the movie.


I have to admit that although I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years, I’ve always struggled with the story of the prodigal son.  It’s so easy to relate to the feelings of the older brother, who did right all the while that his younger brother was squandering the family’s riches.  It’s the same with the daughters in this film.  As humans, we can completely relate to how the older sibling feels.

Even more, though, I think I struggled with how the father could welcome the prodigal child home with celebration. Of course, he’s glad his lost child has returned to the fold and is contrite and sees the err in his ways.  And so it is with this film.  As a parent myself, I think I would have seen the need to punish the daughter for the purpose of correction…at least to express some words of disappointment.  I have no doubt I would have those kinds of thoughts to share with my child in this situation.  But the ending of this film totally blew me away.  The younger daughter, Reese Donahue, makes a speech that brought me to tears instantly.  It was her speech that made me finally understand the reason her father showed her nothing but love and gave her no harsh words.  It’s what was needed for her to see the light, understand the mistakes she’d made, and make the decision to turn her life around.  It was the love in his actions that taught her the most.

And so it is with Jesus.  Aren’t we amazed that He forgives us?  Aren’t we amazed that He loves us, despite our sinful natures?  Don’t we try to do right but often make the wrong choices?  Yet He gives us the opportunity to repent and come back into the fold.  And He does so with open arms.  And we love Him all the more because He loves us anyway.  All that hit me like a ton of bricks as Reese made her speech at the end.  And finally, once and for all, I understood the story of the prodigal son more fully and why the father acted as he did.

This is a powerful film…more powerful, certainly, than I expected.  And it inspired me to go and sit down with my teenage son and my husband and spill out what I’d learned…that light bulb moment I had at the conclusion of the film.  I would really recommend this film for family viewing, and I think it could be used in conjunction with the study guide as the basis for a group bible study of the prodigal son parable.  And now I wish I’d requested the book, as well!

Check out what other Crew members had to say about this unique film by clicking the banner below.