Saturday, October 31, 2015

"H" is for Halloween

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.
I am a big fan of the fall. I enjoy cool evenings, crisp days, hayrides, bonfires, and the tastes of fall. Our schedule seems to dictate to what extent we get to enjoy all of those activities. The best part is that they are family activities that allow us to spend time simply being together.

Last weekend, the kids asked if we could make an apple pie. I had some apples that I had picked up at the orchard, as well as some that were leftover at the swim meet concession stand, so the three of us made a pie. It was the first time my son had helped make a pie. It was fun to teach him about cutting in the shortening and tossing it gently with water to give a nice flaky crust. My daughter helped measure out the flour, sugar and seasoning to add to the apples. And my son measured for the crumb topping. I got to peel the apples and told the kids how my grandma and grandpa could peel the entire apple in one continuous piece, creating a spiral of peel. I showed them that I couldn't do the full apple, but was getting close.

This weekend we are hosted a slumber party to celebrate my daughter's birthday. We did a build your own pizza bar. I made a homemade crust and set out individuals crusts for each girl. The toppings included pizza sauce, regular and mini pepperoni, two types of shredded cheese, browned sausage, and diced peppers. It was a fun time by all building their pizzas.

For Halloween, my daughter requested to be a cat. So, we headed to the store to find fur to make the tail, ears and patches. We found a black hoodie and leggings to be the foundation of the costume. We planned out the patches, the tail and ears and I did the cutting and sewing. My son was in the uncertain phase this year, so he is recycling a convict costume that we had in the basement. Historically, we have made his costume as well. Recent selections have been a baseball card, a Lego Minifigure and a vending machine. This may be the last year that we head out to trick or treat as a family. It is always a good time, catching up with others in the neighborhood. There are families that gather on a driveway with a bonfire and one year a family had a food truck that was serving sample size soups and coffee to the parents.

How will you celebrate Fall and Halloween?

“H” is for Halloween: With fall officially in full swing, Hormel Foods is introducing the "ABC's of Fall" on the Hormel Foods Recipes Pinterest page! Encourage your readers to check out new seasonal posts, and share with us their favorite fall recipes, “spooky” snack ideas, and ways they use classic fall flavors using the hashtag #ABCsofFall and #HormelFamily.

· “M” is for Mummies:
Hanging out in cemeteries isn’t the only place for these scary creatures – turns out they like pizza too! That is, in these Mini Mummy Pizzas. To make your own, top half an English muffin with pizza sauce, add Hormel® Pepperoni Minis, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese and add two sliced black olives for eyes. Viola!

· “S” is for Spooky: Make a “Spooky Chili” this Halloween for a fun and filling time! Use Halloween-shaped cookie cutters to cut shapes out of cheese slices and place the cheese shapes over a bowl of hot Hormel® Chili with Beans. Pair it with this spooky Halloween dip
featured on the NATURAL CHOICE® Pinterest page, which uses a variety of Hormel Foods products!

· “W” is for Weekends: Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, so use the whole weekend as an excuse to indulge in some of your favorite fall treats!

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product samples for my family to try. I also receive thought starters, information and photos that can be used in a post.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Five Below #shop5B #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post for Five Below, through She Speaks. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.
The wind down has begun...after weeks of crazy fall sports schedules, this past week wrapped up the remaining fall sports. Of course, the break will be short lived, as we officially kicked off winter sports with our first swim meet of the season this weekend. During the wind down and the slow period that we can enjoy for the next few weeks, we have been taking advantage of the quiet evenings and weekends and getting out and doing things as a family.
The other weekend, because we had no sports and had a few errands to run on Friday night, we took the opportunity to stop at Five Below with the kids. Five Below is a family favorite shopping destination. Usually, we head there without a shopping list, but often times we choose Five Below when we are looking for a specific (and unique) item. I think part of the appeal to the family is just the unique collection of items that they offer and that they offer them all for $5 and below. It is a great place to pick up stocking stuffers and fun items for a white elephant gift exchange.
On this trip, since we came armed with an available budget and an intent to spend it, we spent longer than normal shopping. Everyone wanted to see what was available before making any commitments.

My daughter's first stop was at the plastic shoes. They offer both a lined and unlined version. She found a pink pair in her size and tried them on. Satisfied that they fit, they were the first item added to our cart.

My son headed to the back of the store and checked out the assortment of sports balls. They seem to have one for every sport. A few minutes were spent playing with the balls and deciding if we wanted one or another.
The giant tennis balls were a hit with the kids, but they opted to skip getting a ball and continued around the store.

With the release of the new Star Wars planned for this fall, the kids were excited to check out the vast assortment on Star Wars items that were available at Five Below.
In addition to those items, they also had some posters. The kids gave them a good review, looking for the best options to update the decorations in their bedroom.

Our next stop was in the office/art section. We looked for gift options for a birthday party my daughter was planning to attend. She settled on a sketch pad and a set of colored pencils for her friend. Then, she added in another sketch pad for herself and a dry erase calendar with magnets for her room. Then we found a photo clip pack that consisted of a string that could be mounted and several small clothes pins for attaching pictures. This was a solution I had been looking for to display my daughter's ribbons from swimming, so I added this to the cart.

Our next stop was at the phone/tablet accessory wall. Their selection in the tech area is diverse. They have covers for seemingly all brands/styles of phone and tablet with several colors, styles and themes to choose from. I think my personal favorite was the Lego cover where you could attach building bricks to further personalize the cover.
They also offer charging cables and headphones. My kids are required to bring a set to school, so we always keep a few on hand to replace the ones that get lost or the cords bent and stop working.

Then, we headed up to the candy section.
The selection, oh the selection! Suddenly, the cart started to fill faster. There were the theater boxes of candy...there were three or four varieties chosen. There was the wall of 10/$1 candy items. There were three or four bags filled with personalized assortments of candy. There were gummy bears and candy corn (shh! those were mine, all mine!).

Everything we bought was $1 - $5, in even dollars, except the candy corn which was priced at $1.79, which I found odd given the typical pricing that we saw in store.

Everyone was pleased with their purchases and we headed on to tackle our remaining errands and grab dinner, although I'm pretty certain that a couple of the 10 for $1 candy items might have been consumed on the way to dinner.

This is a sponsored post for Five Below, through She Speaks. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Miracle Drug by Richard L Mabry, M.D.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
I started reading thrillers when I was in high school and continued into college. While on a trip with friends following college, I read my first medical thriller. I would be lying if I didn't say I was immediately hooked. When I heard about the latest book from Richard L. Mabry, M.D., Miracle Drug , whose description sounded like a medical thriller to me, I decided that I should check his book out.

The story started off quickly, immediately creating a scene of mystery. This introduction to the story was a great way to pull the reader right in and the movement of the story kept the reader engaged. I, as might be expected, found myself not wanting to put the book down and staying up too late, in the attempt to read just one more chapter.

With the author being a retired physician, he had the background to really make the medical conditions, the lab tests, the diagnostic practice and the life of the medical professionals come to life for the reader. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, many of them members of the medical profession, as the story unfolded. There were plenty of 'decoys' interspersed in the story, characters that helped move the story along and served as a reasonable 'suspect' for the reader as they tried to stay a step ahead of the characters and solve the mystery - of course, the reader doesn't know they are decoys until the end of the story though when the story is resolved. As the characters go through the ups and downs of the story, the author interjects reflections of faith. The power of prayer and the belief in a higher being helps keep the characters moving forward in their battles to overcome the mysterious illness.

In the end, I would say that the book delivered more on the medical mystery than on the medical thriller that I had anticipated. I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading other books by the author, but felt like the end was a little rushed...with the answers a little too neatly wrapped up. Some of the wrap up left me scratching my head - not sure why they were needed and/or feeling like it was the answer to part of the story that had been cut in an earlier edit.

About the book:
Miracle Drug (Abingdon, September 2015)

Overcoming these odds will take more than a miracle drug---it will take a miracle.

The infection wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn't. Then Dr. Josh Pearson discovers why---his patients, including the former President of the United States, have been dosed with a different strain of the original virus, one that is universally fatal. The only chance for survival is treatment with an experimental drug, but the manufacturer might already have discarded its supply.

As if treating the President of the United States isn't stressful enough, the situation goes from bad to worse when Rachel Moore, a nurse Josh is falling in love with, falls ill. With the nation's eyes on him, Josh must pull off a miracle to save a man who holds a good deal of power and the woman who holds his heart.

Purchase a copy here.

About the author:

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician who writes "medical suspense with heart." His novels have won multiple awards: a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers' debut novel; finalists for the Carol Award, Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and Romantic Times' Reader's Choice Award; and both finalist and winner of the Selah Award. "Miracle Drug" is his ninth published novel. He and his wife live in Frisco, Texas.

Find Richard online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Learn more about the book and read other reviews on the Blog Tour Landing Page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.