Thursday, September 25, 2014

Be A STAR

Tonight I will be participating in a Twitter chat along with the WWE Moms. While the chats are always fun, they are usually focused on very serious subjects, which is the case tonight. Tonight's chat is about the Be A STAR movement.

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Be A STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) is a program to stomp out bullying. The goal is to teach everyone to be kind to one another, and to be an example for others to follow. The message in itself is very encouraging, but it just means so much to me that it is coming from the WWE.

WWE has such a huge global presence, and the fact that they choose to use their influence to spread such a positive message is so inspiring. Bullying is, unfortunately, such a huge issue nowadays. Anything that helps teach kids that it is cool to stand up against bullying is wonderful.

As a parent, bullying is something I will always worry about, but the fact that my son has autism and it is likely that my daughter does as well(we have been having her evaluated), my fears are only intensified.

I want my children to be different, because being different makes a person interesting, but I don't want the differences that they have no control over to be a source of stress for them. I experienced bullying as a child, and I would never wish it on anyone.

My experiences were not nearly as severe as many cases I have heard about, but I was Caucasian girl in a neighborhood nearly exclusive to African Americans. I did not fit in. They did not want my family there, and it was made very clear. At school, while there was more of a mix, I was still the target as we rode the same buses.

The fact that we were also very poor did not help at all, and almost nobody wanted to be my friend. I was not a target of violence or horrible teasing, but I was very clearly unwanted, and it is a horrible feeling. I would never want any child, especially my own, to feel like that.

I will do anything I can do to help prevent my kids and other kids from being bullied(or bullying others), and the fact that WWE is doing everything they can to help as well means a great deal to me. I hope that through the Be A STAR initiative, we will be able to put an end to bullying once and for all. We all need to work together to prevent bullying.

To learn more about this wonderful program, please join me tonight for the #BeASTAR Twitter chat from 7-8pm EST. You could win some great prizes, but supporting the cause is the best prize of all. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Recipe For Success®

I love food. I love to eat and I love to cook, or at least I used to love cooking and still enjoy it at times. Now that I have 2 children, both of whom are autistic, and a house to take care of, and a blog to run and countless other obligations to worry about all at the same time, cooking has become more of a chore than a passion, which is actually quite sad.

Now I look for any shortcut to get a meal on the table quickly, but I don't want to sacrifice quality, flavor or nutrition to do it. That's why I was so excited when I was offered the opportunity to write a sponsored post for Success® White Rice.

I have always been a huge fan of rice. I love practically every flavor and variety. Whether as a side dish or as part of a main dish, rice it one of my favorite foods. While I fancy myself a good cook, I am embarrassed to admit that rice was one food I often had difficulty with. I know, how hard can it be to cook rice? Well I don't know, but mine comes out too hard or too mushy and it drove me crazy.

With practice I can make decent rice now, but while trying to help my son with homework and pick up 14 different messes and answer the phone, etc. I am not able to make rice(that is edible) too. That's what is so perfect about Success® Rice, it does the work for me.

Success® Rice is the original no measure, no mess boil-in-a-bag rice that cooks perfectly every time in only 10 minutes. It can be made on the stove-top or in the microwave. That is a huge convenience since I have only 1 large burner(the 3 small ones never cook right).

I still usually use the stove-top, just because I don't normally cook anything in the microwave, but knowing I can is awesome. Since it only takes 10 minutes, I can cook it while I prep the other items in the meal. I can create anything using Success® White Rice, and it is so wonderful for casaroles and jambalaya, but I use it even more frequently as a side dish.

We have Success® Rice at least twice a week, and it is a huge favorite. My go-to dish using Success® White Rice is Cilantro-Lime rice. It is so easy to make and can be eaten as a side or added to a meal(like burritos).

There are only 3 ingredients(besides salt & pepper if desired).

Since the bags are so perfectly portioned and easy to cook in multiples you can easily alter the recipe to feed as many as needed. I use:

2 bags of Success® White Rice
Juice of 1 lime(or 2 Key limes)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Just add 2 bags Success® White Rice to water and bring to boil.
Once boiling, cook for 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, Juice the lime(s) and chop the cilantro.
After 10 minutes, the rice will be cooked to perfection. Drain water and allow bags to drain. Then cut the bags open and pour the rice into the pot.
See how perfect the rice came out? mine never looks that good without Success®.

All that is left to do is add the lime juice and cilantro to the rice and stir to combine. Add salt and/or pepper if desired(I add a bit of salt), and enjoy.
This rice is fantastic. It takes almost identical to the rice used in one of my most favorite made-to-order burrito places. I love being able to make my own and enjoy it anytime I want without having to overpay or leave the house.

Success® White Rice is not only great-tasting, it is Gluten-Free and a great source of complex carbohydrates. It is available in two sizes to accommodate any household size(or rice addiction).

If for some reason you are not a huge fan of white rice, Success® still has you covered. Success® Rice comes in 4 fantastic varieties. Success® White Rice(or course), Success® Brown Rice, Success® Thai Jasmine Rice and, my favorite, Success® Basmati Rice.

With  Success® Rice I can cook like a pro without having to know how to cook like a pro. There is something for everyone and all my recipe needs. Success® even helps me find inspiration with over 300 recipes on successrice.com. All of the recipes look amazing, and I cannot wait to try them ALL(like I need an excuse to eat more rice).

Success® Rice is also one of the brands participating in a sweepstakes from O, The Oprah Magazine! To enter, visit http://omagonline.com/cooking. There you will submit the entry form and pin with inspiration from the "How Are You Cooking This Fall" Promo Pinterest Board. For doing so, you could win culinary-themed prizes!

I would love to know your thoughts on Success® Rice. Have you ever used it? Do you plan to know? What is your favorite variety of race? I would also love it if you would share your favorite rice recipe. I am always looking for new ones to try. If you have anything else to share, please leave me a comment. I love connecting with you all.

*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Success® Rice.*
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Live a No Barriers Live with Help From Nature Valley

*Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are 100% my own.*

You only live once. That saying is used a lot in an attempt to push yourself to do something you normally wouldn't or justify doing things that maybe you shouldn't, but it definitely true. You really should be living your life to the fullest without endangering yourself or harming anyone else.

Life is entirely too short, and people often do not realize just how true it is until it's nearing the end. There are so many excuses as to why you can't do this or haven't done that. I am not criticizing, I make them too, way more often than I'd like to admit.

The problem with that is no one wants to look and reminisce about doing the laundry or running errands or watching some crappy reality show. It's the adventures that make life memorable(good and bad), and I am sick of only watching adventures on TV.

I have not had many adventures yet, but thankfully there is still time for me(God willing). I plan to take my life back and make it better than ever, and take my family along for the ride.

I was motivated by Erik Weihenmayer. I have been following Erik's journey on Tumblr and it is so inspiring. He has done so many incredible things, whereas I have never ventured out of my home state.

It is incredible to see his pictures and watch videos of him in the most breathtaking places in the world. It makes you really want to be there too.

Erik climbs mountains, goes kayaking(in the Grand Canyon) and so many other amazing feats that are mind blowing in themselves, but made nearly incomprehensible when you factor in that he is blind. I cannot do any of that, even with my sight. I am so moved my his dedication and his hunger for life. If everyone approached life that way, the world would be a much better place to live.

Currently, Erik is doing The “No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition”. It is a 21-day, 277 mile journey through some of the world’s most challenging whitewater terrain in the Colorado River. Erik Weihenmayer will be supported by an experienced paddling team, and joined by accomplished kayaker and Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell.  Together, Erik and Lonnie will demonstrate the power of harnessing inner strength to overcome challenging barriers.

This expedition serves to inspire people to not limit themselves, eliminate barriers in their lives and live life to its fullest.  Nature Valley is joining Erik in inviting people to pledge to get out there and live a No Barriers Life.

From here forward, I vow to be more active, to seek more adventures and to never give up. While I will never be climbing Everest, I will do so metaphorically by overcoming my perceived limits and making the most of what I am capable of - to live a No Barriers Life.

There is an actual pledge to do this, that I have already taken. I hope that you will join me in taking the No Barriers Pledge.

Now that I am determined to overcome the mental barriers I had been playing the victim to, I can focus on the physical barriers. I am not the most athletic person. In fact, I am totally out of shape(aesthetically and in terms of ability). I get tired, I run out of energy, you name it, it happens. And on an adventure, those things slow you down and make you sloppy, which is a huge hindrance.

That is where Nature Vally comes in. Erik uses Nature Valley to fuel his epic adventures, and if it is good enough for him, I know it will work for me. I'm really glad that its Nature's Valley, too, because I already have that part mastered. I am a Nature's Valley addict. The Oats 'n Honey Granola Bars are one of my favorite snacks ever.

I would love to keep raving about my love of Nature's Vally and bragging about my great "talent" for eating Oats 'n Honey Crunchy Granola Bars, but life is waiting. There is an adventure out there, and I am going to find it. Thanks to Nature's Valley, my stomach is full, but I am still hungry for life. I can't wait to see what I can discover. #MyAdventure #GetOUTThere

I would love to hear about your adventures. Have you ever done something amazing? If you don't have anything notable so far, what do you plan to do?

*Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are 100% my own.*