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Lifestyle

My Whole-House Chore List

I KNOW I’m not the only mom who’s been in this position…

You’re getting ready for a party, family get-together, having some friends over for dinner, etc., and trying to get the house in tip-top shape. The kids (and husband LOL) are purposely trying to avoid you because they know you’ll ask for help.

OR on the very rare occasion that they ask what they can do to help, you respond with some version of the following:

“Clean your room!”

“You’re in charge of cleaning the bathroom.”

“It would be really helpful if you cleaned up the family room for me.”

And then they come to you saying they’re finished. You believe them! You make a mental note to double check that they did it right, but you’re thankful that they took that one task off your hands.

…or did they?

You finish what you were doing, forgetting to check behind them, and guests start to show up. You’re then hustling around, being the happy little hostess, when someone asks where the bathroom is.

OH NO! YOU DIDN’T CHECK!!

You hold your breath, tell them where it is, and you may even throw in a bit of an, “Excuse the mess – I didn’t check the bathroom after my child cleaned it.” (Am I the only one who does this?) And you wait, cringing the entire time, for them to come back out.

To not make it entirely obvious, you give it a few minutes and go check the bathroom. There’s dirty clothes all over the floor, ripped up toilet paper that the dog got into, and blue liquid dripping from the side of the toilet.

You call your child into the bathroom and mutter through clenched teeth, “I thought I asked you to clean the bathroom for me!”

“Oh I did mommy! I used the little toilet scrubber like you do and I used toilet paper to wipe off the counter! Didn’t I do a good job?”

I don’t know how many times something like this has happened in my house, so like I said, I KNOW I can’t be the only one. At least I hope I’m not!

So one day I created this whole-house cleaning list. Do I still have to check behind them? Sure! I mean they’re still children so I don’t expect perfection, but the resulting image is so much less daunting than before. They know what they need to do, and they get it done.

Here is the list I use. You can download and edit my list to fit your needs as well!

What do you think? Would you add anything? Click the link below!

GET YOUR CHORE LIST BY CLICKING HERE!

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Lifestyle

My Child Didn’t Invite Yours to His Party… and I’m OK With It

When my sons were little, their birthday parties were insane. I mean, I was THE Pinterest-y birthday party mom! The theme was evident throughout every aspect of the party – the invitations, the decorations, the games, the food! They were nauseatingly adorable, every single one of them. I made up invitations for every kid in their classes, baseball teams, Scouts, plus all the family and friends who were always invited to everything. I would spend a ridiculous amount of time and money on them (most of them – when we could), and then when they were over I would collapse from pure and utter exhaustion!

The year my oldest turned 9 was the last year of this insanity. We did the whole shebang – invited everyone and their mama (literally), had an awesome theme, and everyone had a blast. Well, ALMOST everyone… until two of the kids at the party got into a fight. These two kids from different sides of my son’s life (one I found out later my son wished had not been invited) clashed – BIG TIME – and it showed its ugly face at his birthday party. Parents were called – they argued in my front room while I tried to keep everyone outside and keep the party going – it was no fun. Then they all went home. It was all over, I thought. We could go on and enjoy the rest of the party! Right? …wrong!

About an hour after everyone left, I’m playing a game with one of the kids on the side of the house when the father of one of the kids comes storming up, turning off the music, lining all the kids in the party up, and fussing at them all… at my house… shutting down my son’s birthday party!! My husband thankfully broke it up, pulled the dad aside and had a chat with him. They went home, and we were done with it.

And you know what else I was done with? BIRTHDAY PARTIES!!! The next year, we didn’t have a party for either of their birthdays – I just couldn’t bring myself to do it again. Then I realized, you know what? That’s not fair to my kids. They didn’t do anything wrong!

But how do I avoid the debacle from that crazy drama-filled party? I decided to limit the number of kids he was allowed to invite, and for the first time ever, I did not tell him he HAD to invite anyone. I made up a few invitations for him to take to school, and HE was 100% in charge of the guest list.

The party was wonderful! Everyone had fun, and my son is still smiling days after, thanking me for letting him have the party he wanted. Mom win! I did something right!!

Apparently, however, by limiting my son’s guest list, there were some that got left off the invite list. I know, I know, that NEVER happens, right?? Well, feelings were hurt. Tears were shed from what I’ve been told. And immediately I felt bad. Should I have made him invite his whole class and every member of every activity he’s in like we used to do? Should I have limited the guest list so soon?

I remember a few times in school watching the invites get handed out on the playground only to realize at the end of the stack that there wasn’t one for me. It hurt of course, especially because some of the girls I considered really good friends. But the party happened, I didn’t go, and I lived to tell you the tale today. I’m quite certain we’ve all gone through some sort of “why wasn’t I invited” type situation in our lives, haven’t we? Even as adults!

So as I think back on the whole situation, I have to remind myself that it’s ok that my son didn’t invite yours. He didn’t exclude him on purpose, and just because he didn’t change his mind when asked if your son could be invited, that doesn’t mean he has anything against your son or had any ill feelings toward him at all. It simply means that he’s growing up and deciding who he is and who he wants in his circle.

I couldn’t be prouder of the young man he is becoming. I WISH I had the sense when I was 11 years old to know who was worthy of my friendship and who wasn’t.

So with that, I say, “Sorry, not sorry!” My son has my full support in deciding who to invite to his parties or anything else in the future. It’s my job to raise him and teach him independence, and I’m not going to get anywhere by continuing to limit the decisions he’s able to make.

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FOOD

Easy Red Beans & Rice… in the Crock Pot!

Red Beans & Rice is one of the most iconic Cajun recipes out there, but did you know it is also one of the most simple recipes?

There is some time involved, but it is definitely one of those recipes you can set and forget (for the most part). And if you’re on a budget, it can be one of the least expensive meals in your arsenal as well!

The ingredients can be as few or as many as you’d like. I typically keep it rather simple, but sometimes I like to add a little flare to mine… because why not?

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Biz Tips

What’s Your Business’ Digital Footprint?

Do you know what your potential customers see when they find you online? How do they find you? CAN they find you?

 

 

Knowing your digital footprint has now become one of the most crucial aspects of running a business. Whether you want to engage online or not, the fact of the matter is if you want your business to be successful in today’s marketplace, you’ve got to have an understanding of how to engage with your customers online.

According to lexingtonlaw.com, Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) account for a quarter of the United States population! That age group alone spends about $600 BILLION in the US every year, and 94% of them prefer to shop in a digital format of some kind!

And you know that little device they are always carrying around – the device they get such a hard time about because they’re “always on it”? Yep, I’m talking about their cell phones.

If they can’t find you on their phones, as far as they’re concerned, you don’t exist! And if you don’t exist, how much of that $600 billion do you think your business is going to get?

…do you see the importance of your digital footprint now?

SOCIAL MEDIA
Probably one of the easiest (and least costly) ways you can show up on the radar of your audience is by having a social media presence.

Now I’m not saying dive in and drown yourself in every platform available. Choose one or two that would benefit you by reaching the audience you want to reach.

Own a restaurant? I’ve found that Facebook & Instagram are great places to start in the social media realm.

Have a blog? Pinterest is the BEST way to gain followers! You can also use Facebook or Instagram here as well.

Find out where your target audience is hanging out, and BE THERE!

WEBSITE
Having a website doesn’t have to be a cumbersome ordeal either. There are plenty of website creation options out there, and depending on the level of engagement you intend to have with your audience, you may have little to no cost involved in creating your business’ website.

If all you intend to do is have a presence online, telling the public about your business and where they can find you, that’s an option. You can include the business phone number and email address for your audience to reach you if needed, and you control what’s displayed on the site!

You can also fully engage with your audience through your website. Sell a product and want to offer online sales? Own a restaurant and want to offer online ordering? Your website can offer as little or as much engagement as you can handle.

So let’s say you want to fully engage through your website but are far from comfortable with computers. Uh oh, what do you do now? Do you give up and stick with your local radio, newspaper, and television ads? No!

There are PLENTY of businesses out there you can hire to manage these things for you. Find a local social media manager, enroll in services from a web site management company, hire out any aspect of your online presence that you feel someone else can do better than you can.

REVIEW SITES
Have you ever visited a business and left a review afterwards?

Review sites have been proven to make or break a business in some cases, and the way you manage your business on these sites can make a huge difference!

Some popular review sites are Yelp, Google, Facebook, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yellow Pages, Better Business Bureau, and FourSquare. I suggest checking each and every one of them to see if your business is listed.

If you find your business on a review site and you did not create the page yourself, CLAIM THE PAGE! Somewhere along the top of the page, there is usually something with the word “claim” or “this is my business” or something along those lines.

Claiming your business gives you control over the information that is out there (aside from the reviews themselves). Are your hours listed correctly? What about the contact info? If you have a restaurant, is your menu updated and correct? And the photos – oh the photos! What kind of picture is painted of your business through the photos that are posted? Post some of your own that show what YOU want your audience to see.

Once you’ve taken control of your business on these sites, invite your customers (especially the happy ones) to write a review! Offer some kind of incentive to them for the review as well – a percentage off coupon, a drawing for a free item of your choice – get them to help increase your star rating!

The fact of the matter is, many times customers do not leave reviews when they’re happy; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. If you want your business to be portrayed fairly, it’s only smart to encourage your happy customers to leave good reviews as well to balance them out!

These are some of the most important aspects of your digital footprint that need your most attention. Once you get a handle on these, you will have a much better understanding of how your customers view your business, and most importantly, ways you might be able to improve!

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Lifestyle

Top 10 Things I Always Keep Packed

When you travel for work as much as I do, you tend to get into the habit of packing the same things over – and over – and over again! Honestly, I got tired of packing, unpacking, and repacking. After about 5 trips in only a couple of months, I started keeping my toiletry bag stocked and never need to repack the whole thing again. And man oh man, has that saved my life! I no longer need to block out time to pack. I can literally throw my bag together in about 10-15 minutes before my coworker shows up (we like to carpool together).

Here’s a list of some of my favorite things I like to keep packed and ready to go!

1 – Shampoo and Conditioner – I have to be very particular about my shampoo & conditioner that I use, so using the little freebies in the hotel room just aren’t an option for me. Thankfully, Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree line (my FAVE) has tiny little travel size bottles that fit PERFECTLY in my toiletry bag, AND they’re only 2.5oz so they will make it through airport security with no problems!

2 – Dry Shampoo – Sometimes it just isn’t convenient to have to wash my hair while I’m on a work trip. And sometimes, well, it just isn’t in my hair washing schedule (I probably only wash my hair twice a week)! I have quite a few favorites, but for traveling I like Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo. Again – can’t beat the travel size!

3 – Razor & Shave Gel – Because when you need it, you need it! Not much is worse than getting dressed in the hotel, accidentally tearing a hole in your only pair of tights you packed, and having less than smooth gams, my friends (trust me on that one)! The walk of shame down to the little shop by the front desk can be pretty crucial too. What if you run into one of your coworkers?! My favorites? I’m a simple girl, so the travel size Skintimate is perfect for me!

4 – Epsom Salts or Bath Bombs – I don’t know about you ladies, but when I have an entire hotel room to myself for the night, I take advantage of the opportunity to soak in a nice hot tub with my favorite smelling epsom salts or a bath bomb! Dr. Teal’s is just what this mama needs! They have so many delicious scents, too (I’m rather partial to lavender – ahhhh)!

5 – Mani/Pedi Tools – Just the basics – clippers, file, some polish. When I have an actual chance to sit down and paint my nails or toes, it’s usually on these trips! I like to use the OPI brand polishes because they last so much longer than others I’ve tried.

6 – Toothbrush & Toothpaste – How many times have you gone on a trip and forget to pack your toothbrush? This was probably the final trigger for me before I started just keeping my bag packed. I like to keep a full sized toothbrush in a travel case in my bag. It just seems to get the job done faster and more thoroughly than those tiny little travel ones. Toothpaste of course is travel size – no need for a giant tube of toothpaste taking up more room than necessary!

7 – Travel Straightener/Blow Dryer/Brush – Isn’t this BaBylissPRO set the CUTEST?! The straightener is perfect for those quick work trips to touch up any creases in your hair from your soak the night before. Also, you never have to worry about the hotel blow dryer not working when you have your own – without sacrificing half your suitcase in order for it to fit! And then they wrap them all up in this ADORABLE quilted rose gold bag? Y’all, I can’t even… https://www.ulta.com/nano-titanium-125-ionic-straightener-travel-dryer?productId=pimprod2005001 Now the brush is one of those things in my bag I would prefer not use (I’ve got a LOT of hair, so a full size is better), but it’s come in handy so many times when I forget to pack my real brush.

8 – Magic Makeup Remover Towel – Y’all, these things really are magic! Just wet them with warm water, and wipe away all the makeup, dirt, and travel grime from your face. The coolest part? The makeup doesn’t transfer or leave the towel until you add soap to it! So if you really layer on the eye makeup like I do, you. will. LOVE. this!!!

9 – My Favorite Skincare – Yep, I keep a spare set of my favorite skincare items in my bag so I don’t forget it. Because who wants to “make do” with the little makeup remover wipes and bar “facial” soap in the hotel room? NOT THIS GIRL! My skincare regimen is quite simple, and I absolutely love that I can support my favorite Boss Babes in their businesses by purchasing their stuff! I love Mary Kay’s Timewise 3-in-1 Cleanser (I know, it’s been discontinued… I’m not rushing out to buy the new one yet because I stocked up before my 3-in-1 was gone forever. I’ve heard good things about the 4-in-1 though). I just recently started using Arbonne’s Moisturizer, and I love how light and clean it makes my skin feel. And my absolute favorite part – my Joyome serums from Plexus! OMG my skin has never felt so smooth and bright, and the few little annoying wrinkles I did have are gone – bye bye!

10 – Body Spray – Last but certainly not least, I like to pack a bottle of the body spray for whatever perfume I’ve been wearing. I still get the ability to smell sweet and yummy while not being afraid that my expensive bottle of perfume might break or leak inside my bag. My go-to scent right now is Ralph Lauren Romance. I just love the soft floral scent. I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of it!

11 – The Perfect Bag – I know I said 10, but what good would it do you if you didn’t have the perfect bag to hold it all? Vera Bradley makes my favorite – the Iconic Hanging Travel Organizer. It has all the pockets I need, it hangs on the back of the door or on the towel rack close to the shower, and it ties instead of zips! That way I can put whatever I want in there and I know it’ll all fit… hehehe!

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FOOD

Cajun Chicken, Sausage, and Crawfish Jambalaya

Hey y’all! I’m so excited to be sharing one of my absolute favorite Cajun recipes! While I would love to tell you that this is a recipe handed down through generations, the truth is I ended up perfecting it myself over the past 10 years or so.

Unless you’ve grown up in Louisiana or know a thing or two about the Cajun heritage, you probably don’t have a clue what jambalaya means (or even that it really “means” anything at all). The name jambalaya comes from the combination of a few words– “jambon,” which means ham in French, and “aya,” an African word for rice. Combine the two, and you’ve got jambon a la yaya, which after many years of being spoken, was eventually shortened to one word that we all recognize today: jambalaya.

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Uncategorized

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