Thursday, January 26, 2012


Just wanted to update everyone.  My daddy went in for a heart cath today and they found 7 blockages.  They have him scheduled for open heart surgery in the morning.  They are expecting to do a quadriple bypass.  I'll be offline and at the hospital with my mom.  Please say a prayer for all of us!  God Bless you all and I'll be back just as soon as I can!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Driving Tips for Mom, From a Mom

As the winter is progressing, the mild North Carolina temperatures are moving my focus to spring and summer travel.  Safety is a must in everything we do, but when you are driving your precious cargo (family) around, it is extra important!  Here are a few tips that I hope you will think about next time you are behind the wheel.

Do not even think about driving if you are tired!  Sleep deprived drivers cause way too many accidents, and cost us too many lives every year.  There are plenty of rest areas out there where you can pull in, stretch your legs and rest.  Also, if more than one person in your vehicle is a licensed driver, share the driving responsibilities.  My best advice on this is to get a good night sleep before you take off on your trip.

Be Alert!!  Be pro-active when you are driving.  Pay attention to everything that is going on around you.  Listen for sirens and check your mirrors often.  Things going on behind you and beside you do affect you!  If you hear a siren, or see flashing lights behind you, carefully make your way to the right and allow them to safely pass you.  In emergency situations, every second counts!  Imagine that every emergency vehicle is coming to help you or your loved ones.  Think about how you would feel if your family member was waiting for emergency assistance and the responder was slowed to react because YOU were blocking their way!

Make sure you are prepared for your trip.  Check and double check that you have everything you will need for your journey.  Pack an emergency kit for your vehicle that includes jumper cables, flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, extra water, blanket and even snacks and a cell phone.  Even cell phones that do not have a monthly plan can call 911!

Don't rush the trip.  Slow down and enjoy the drive.  Speeding is just too dangerous!  When you are speeding, you have less control of your vehicle.  In 1985, the church van I was riding in was involved in a wreck while we were on a retreat for the teenagers.  A truck driver who was SPEEDING lost control of his truck and slammed into our van and flipped it over!  It rolled three complete revolutions before it came to rest on the roof!  This accident, caused by a speeding driver cost the lives of three wonderful people, and changed the lives of the rest of us forever!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Esurance blogging program for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Diamond Candles: Light Up My Life Review & Giveaway

My husband and I are both candle lovers. I have lots of them all over my house. Most of my candles are the small votive candles that I have been purchasing since my college days. Finding a candle that has a nice scent and a good throw can cause me lots of problems. I want a candle that enhances the smell of the room. Since I am not using the candle for light purposes, if the scent does not carry, it is not worth the price.

Over a year ago, I heard about Diamond Candles in a blog post. I learned that they were soy candles, which I prefer! They also offer something that is very unique! Every Diamond Candle contains a ring, buried in the natural soy wax, that is worth between $10 and $5,000! YES...I did say up to $5,000.

Being allowed to review this candle is such a thrill for me, because I have been actively entering every giveaway I could to win one! Diamond Candles offer 20 scents and one unscented candle, and if you check out their facebook page you can see some of the beautiful rings that some of the candle owners have found. I have been burning my candle for a while now, and I have not reached my ring just yet. I will update this post with a photo of the ring once I reach it!

Want to win a Diamond Candle of your very own? There are 30 candles up for grabs in this awesome giveaway. Simply enter on the simple rafflecopter for below for your chance!! Don't delay! The giveaway ends on the 27th!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sister Schubert's Makes Dinner Complete Review & Giveaway

Growing up in the South, we had rolls, biscuits, or corn bread with almost every meal.  As I have grown up, while I still enjoy bread on occasion, it is not an every meal occurrence.   We generally eat some type of bread on special occasions!  When my family was offered the opportunity to review some Sister Schubert's rolls, we were excited about it. 

We have been purchasing the Sister Schubert's Parker House Style rolls for a while now, and this time, we were trying out something new.  We were looking to try the Mini Baguettes and the Soft Pretzel Rolls.  It took quite a while to actually find them in the store, but we were finally successful!    We were able to snag a bag of each! 

We tried the Mini Baguettes first!  They were delicious!  We enjoyed them with a nice Italian dinner and they completed our meal.  They had a nice crispy crust and such a soft delicious center.  Perfect to enjoy alone or to dip in the sauce or in some olive oil!  We enjoyed these so much more than any other brand we tried, and we WILL be purchasing them again!

The Soft Pretzel Rolls were the other item we tried.  I was not sure what to expect from them, but I am so happy I tried them!  The crust is a little crisp, but it is not thick, so you get to enjoy more of the tender inside!!  Since the bag can be resealed, I baked a few the first time and used them for ham and cheese sandwiches.  They are the perfect size, and they complimented the ham and cheese.  DELICIOUS!  We have already used the remainder of this bag and have purchased more. 

There are many delicious types of Sister Schubert's rolls to choose from.  Which type of roll looks most appealing to you?  Just answer that question in the easy rafflecopter form and you could win a coupon to try a package for FREE!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blog Dare Day 18 - Something at home that serves no purpose.

OK, I have to admit, I looked all around our house to figure out what to post about.  I was just about to give up when I realized what I needed to post about!  We have a fireplace in the office/TV room and it serves no purpose!  When we bought the house, we were told NOT to use real wood or even gas logs in there because the chimney and the floor of the fireplace is NOT made for use.  It is made for looks.  HUH?  Does that make sense to anyone?  Why in the world would you place a useless fireplace in a home?

I love the mantle place that is above this fireplace, it is beautiful, and I use it!  The rock wall that surrounds the fireplace and the stoop below is decorative, and I like looking at it, but it holds no use either. hubby and I are about to change all that.  We found an electric heater to slide inside our fireplace.  Within a few weeks, we will have heat coming from that blasted fireplace!  WOOHOO!

What item is useless in your house?

Blog Dare Day 17 - The first time I saw...

When my first husband and I divorced, I was left the single mom of a toddler, carrying a full load of debt, and feeling all alone in the world.  My daughter and I moved in with my parents, and I devoted every moment of my life to my daughter.  I had no interest in dating, and was certainly not looking for a husband.  Just when I wasn't looking, the Lord placed my soul mate into my life.

My soul mate(Chefy) lived in Washington State and I lived in NC.  We were far apart, yet we became so connected, it was crazy.  On his second visit to NC, I decided to introduce him to my daughter.  We were a package deal, and she was THE factor in whether I would continue with him, or go it my own way.  The first night they met, she crawled up in his lap and "read" to him, and she stole his sandwich when he got up.  Those were good signs!  The next day, we went to the beach, and while at the pool, my daughter was standing on the side of the pool and she cried out, "Catch me Daddy!" and she leaped right into Chefy's arms and hugged him.  The look on both of their faces was priceless!  I knew from that moment that we were meant to be a family.  She found her daddy, I found a hubby and soul mate, and the three of us became a family!

Blog Dare Day 16 - I convinced my daughter to...

My daughter is pretty much the typical teenager.  Just like every one of her friends, she enjoys playing on her computer, listening to music, sleeping late, and leaving her room a mess!  I have talked with the other moms and we have decided that they must teach procrastination in middle school!  My daughter is a good student, but if she gets bored, she does enough to get by.  She can be a straight A student, and it makes me upset when she fails to apply herself.  Her least favorite subject in school is science, and she swears that it is because she does not understand it.  I think it is because she doesn't want to, because it is not interesting to her.

At the beginning of the school year, all 8th graders were instructed that they must complete a Science Fair Project, and that it would be half of their grade for the second quarter of classes.  I heard complaints from my daughter, and I knew she would procrastinate.  We had a long talk one night about how she could do better in school, if she would only apply herself.  Then I just told her flat out that I did not want her to end up like me with regrets.  That was the first time I ever really talked about what I regretted.  I wanted to be a teacher, but I got so bored in high school that I didn't follow my dreams, or my heart.  I just kinda stumbled around instead of going in the right direction.  I never went to college to become a teacher, and I have regretted it ever since.  She has that dream too, and I don't want her to have the same regrets I do.

After our conversation, she really changed, she started putting more effort into her classes, and she put together a great science fair project, and she WON for her class!!  Her grades are great, and when her teachers signed her up for her freshman year classes, each teacher signed her up for the honors program!  Yes, I am one proud mama, because I convinced my daughter to apply herself and give everything in her life her all!

The Rebound is coming on Blu-Ray on February 7th!

Academy Award®-Winner Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha Star in the Charming Romantic Comedy Arriving on Blu-ray and DVD February 7
Spend Valentine’s Day cuddled up with a captivating comedy, and learn that age is just a number with Academy Award®-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones* (No Reservations, Chicago) and Justin Bartha (The Hangover, National Treasure: Book of Secrets) in The Rebound, coming to Blu-ray and DVD February 7 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Upon discovering her husband’s infidelity, Sandy (Zeta-Jones) and her two kids move from the suburbs to pursue a new life in the big city. There she meets Aram (Bartha), a local coffee shop employee whose wife only married him as a means to getting her green card. The two strike up a friendship which eventually evolves into something more. But it isn’t long before they’re faced with the big question - “Is this real or just a rebound?”
Arriving just in time for Valentine’s Day and featuring electrifying chemistry between Zeta-Jones and Bartha, The Rebound also features fantastic supporting performances from Lynn Whitfield (The Women, Madea’s Family Reunion), John Schneider (“The Dukes of Hazzard,” Lake Placid 2) and music legend Art Garfunkel.

Disclosure:  This information was given to me from Think Jam.  No compensation of any kind was recieved!   I just wanted to pass the information along!

Monday, January 16, 2012

For the Love of Family

If you're like me and you think family is just about the most important part of your life, you might have done some brainstorming trying to figure out ways to bring your family even closer together. It's hard to do that in today's world. So much of our time and energy is taken up with social networking on the Internet, nightly TV shows, gossip, the stress of trying to figure out finances. The most time you may have with your kids is when they begrudgingly help you move some furniture into StorageMart on Saturday. The only time you may get with your husband or wife is when the two of you are brushing your teeth before bed. Not exactly quality time!

Sometimes we forget that the most precious thing we'll ever have is right next to us. Therefore we have to do everything in our power to enjoy and nurture those relationships. Here are a few ideas I've come up with that have met with general approval:

Board games—There are a lot of new board games out there and they're great because they bring entertainment to the family that doesn't involve staring at the television. A game our family likes right now is called Balderdash. I think this game is fantastic at bringing out everyone's creativity. It's also good for a few laughs, as part of the game involves just making up random definitions of words, people, movies, and other categories. Instead of a board game, you can also have Trivia Night. Just remember to make the teams fair or you could be in for some yelling!

Movies—It's hard to pick one out that the whole family can agree on, but once you do, watching a movie can really bring the family together. Movies are good at helping people relieve their tensions and think about life in new ways. It's fun to go out to the movies, although that can be a little expensive, especially at night. Also, being in a theater limits how loudly you can make sarcastic comments to each other; however, it is more cost effective and fun to rent a movie or stream a movie off Netflix or Hulu. Family-friendly movies are a best-selling genre right now, so you should have no problems finding something appropriate.

Wii--I know, it may seem inappropriate as a parent to be endorsing video games, but the Wii system offers games like tennis, bowling, and skiing that require lots of physical activity. This makes them more fun to play as a family and puts a little bit of exercise into your nighttime festivities.

Neither board games, movies, or Wii are especially original as ideas for group activities, but anything involving the whole family together is going to feel new and wonderful. As soon as you get everyone laughing and smiling you'll instantly remember why life is good and why your family is the most important thing in the world.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blog Dare Day 15 - Why I don't like a certain cartoon character...

Cartoons can be a lot of fun.  I loved watching Scooby Doo when I was a kid, as well as the Flintstones! On Saturday morning, my brother and I would watch the Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner Show.  Those were the days!   They do not make cartoons like that anymore.  I watched in horror one day when on an episode of Spongebob they discussed farting.  Yes, I realize that passing gas is a natural bodily function, but I would prefer hearing it called something other that a fart.  That is just a pet peeve of mine.  That was the beginning of my dislike of Spongebob. 

I do not like the fact that Spongebob is so dumb.  He has an annoying voice and laugh too.  I do not care for money hungry Mr Krabbs, who has a spoiled brat of a whale daughter Pearl.  Squidward is a grump, and although I do like Sandy, she is a know-it-all.  The character I like least on the show is Patrick, because they made him just too dumb.  Funny is nice, but when it gets downright stupid, leave me out.  My hubby enjoys watching Spongebob...maybe I'm just getting old!

What are your thoughts?  Is there a cartoon character that you dislike?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blog Dare Day 14 - I can't believe my daughter likes...

My father is one of the pickiest eaters I have ever met.  When my brother and I were kids, we had boring meals, because my mother knew that the things Daddy ate were limited.  Our meals consisted of burgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, pork chops or barbecue chicken.  My daddy does not eat rice, or anything that is remotely unusual.  Somehow, my brother and I ended up being more open minded about food.  My brother will try some different foods, and me, well, I'll try any food twice, as long as I do not have an allergic reaction to it.

If you are a Shelly's Bits and Pieces reader, you already know that I am married to a chef.  Chefy will eat ANYTHING...except dill pickles and boiled okra.  We encourage our daughter to try everything, and I'm thrilled that she actually adores ALL veggies and fruits.  She doesn't have any food allergies, so she can try things with her dad.  We all went out for Oriental food one afternoon, and they had a sushi bar.  My hubby brought back two of everything they offered, and our daughter inhaled it!!  She considers sushi to be her favorite food.  She also loves calamari, smoked salmon, boiled okra, and crab legs.  I can't believe that she likes all these foods!  It is such a blessing having a child that will eat anything...WOOHOO!

What kinds of things do your kids eat that shocks you?

Blog Dare Day 13 - My Child's Creepiest Toy

My daughter has had more than her fair share of toys.  I must admit that I am at least partially responsible for that.  If I thought a toy was cute, I would buy it...and since she was the only granddaughter and great granddaughter, so her grandparents over did it too!  She had Tickle Me Elmo, a Laughing Scooby Doo, and other noise making toys, along with pretty much every kind of stuffed animal available.    She never had any type of toy that I thought was creepy, so I'll tell you about a creepy item we have in our home.

When my paternal grandfather passed away, I was given the "Beer Barrel Polka Man" that always sat on his mantle.  It is a ceramic musical figure of a bartender sitting on a keg of beer, drinking a beer, and it plays the Beer Barrel Polka.  This figure meant a lot to my granddaddy, and when he died, it was the only item of his that I got.  Granddaddy passed away over 20 years ago, and when I received my little man, I sat him on the top shelf of the display case.  One night we were watching "A Haunting" on TV, and when the show went to commercial, the little man suddenly began playing his song!  Mind you, this figurine had NOT been wound in over 20 years and had been in the same place on my shelf for 8-9 years.  Needless to say, we were all in shock, and all I could think to do was to say out loud, "OK Granddaddy, we know you are here."  As suddenly as it began playing, it stopped, and it has never played again.  Talk about creepy, that was too creepy!

Has anything strange ever happened to you, or does your child have a toy that creeps you out?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Showing My Support for Walgreens!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have had my prescriptions filled at Walgreens for quite a while now, and I have always been more than satisfied with the service and care I have received.  I was recently made aware of a decision made by Express Scripts to remove Walgreens from its' network.  I don't use Express Scripts myself, but I have friends who do!  I just wanted to pass along this important information to let others know what is happening! To read more about Walgreens and Express Script, simply click the hyperlink. Express Scripts is doing a serious injustice to their customers! 

It does not affect everyone, only patients with certain insurance plans that are managed by Express Scripts. Your Walgreens' pharmacist will be happy to check for you if you are unsure.

Want to know what I think is crazy?  Walgreens has been negotiating with Express Scripts for the past YEAR in an effort to get a new contract signed, but Express Scripts does not seem willing to negotiate!  Instead of helping patients, Express Scripts seems to be holding them hostage!  Now, patients are not being given a real choice when choosing their pharmacy.  They are stuck using only pharmacies that are in-network for their pharmacy benefits.  Believe me, that is no BENEFIT at all!!   My favorite thing about Walgreens has to be the 24 hour drive through windows!  Not having this available for Express Script customers is a huge inconvenience! 

To make matters even worse, even our military is being affected!  One of Express Scripts' clients is Tricare, which is the program the military uses for their heath and prescription drug plan!  As if our service men and women don't already have enough to worry about, now they are being forced to leave Walgreens!   Walgreens did try to maintain the business with Tricare and Express Scripts!  They guaranteed that the Walgreens' prices would match or BEAT the average costs per adjusted prescription from all the in network pharmacies in the Tricare Network!  Express Scripts rejected all offers!  Walgreens is trying to help make the transition as smooth as possible and are doing everything they can to help patients use Walgreens whenever possible, and to take care of them when they are forced to leave Walgreens to remain in their in-network coverage.

Walgreens is trying to help customers by offering special discounts on annual membership in the Walgreens Prescription Savings Club.

Walgreens wants to help with everything they can.  Do you want to help?  Make your voice heard by contacting your local news channel or newspaper and tell them this is unacceptable! Use social media too!  You can also show your support and stay up to date by following Walgreens on Twitter or like Walgreens on Facebook.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Blog Dare Day 12 - A Vacation I Hope to Take This Year

My hubby and I never took a real honeymoon, so we have been discussing taking a cruise for our 10th anniversary this year.  We had been checking out all the cruises that we could afford, and we realized that we wanted our daughter to go with us.  I know what you're thinking, if we take her, it won't be a honeymoon!  You're right!  It will be much more than just a honeymoon.  It will be a family trip that we will remember for years to come!! 

We are cruising to the Bahamas in August for 6 days!!  My hubby confirmed everything today!  Our daughter is going to flip out, because she has wanted to take a cruise ever since we saw a TV show about cruise ships.  While researching these cruises, we also found a 2 night cruise on our Anniversary....we plan to go back by ourselves then!!  I am beyond excited about this trip!!

What are your vacation plans for 2012?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blog Dare Day 11 - If my parents ever found out...

As a kid, my brother and I usually only had each other to play with.  I was the older sister, so that made me the boss...most of the time!  We would wander through the woods and look through the old empty tobacco store houses and barns that were on our property.  We would dig up fishing worms and spend hours trying to catch some fish at the pond.  When we got older, we moved to a new house and we had other kids to play with.  We would run around and ride our bikes up and down the road.  We would go to the pig pen and chase the piglets.  We were just being country kids! 

Winters in Piedmont NC can vary widely from year to year!  The can be mild, or like lots of the winters of my youth, cold!  We loved to go sledding behind our house, near the pond...right beside our neighbor's house.  Our neighbor was between me and my brother, as we were born in 1966, 1967, and 1968.  We became the "three amigos," and when it snowed, we were literally outside sledding all day!  I told you all that to get to this point...the pond would freeze over and when it had been really cold, we would test the strength of the ice by throwing a piece of wood on it, or we would sit down on the ground and pound our feet on the ice.  If we could not break it that way, we would load up our sled with cinder blocks, and we would push it down the hill and out on the pond.  If it didn't crack the ice, we would begin sledding across the pond.

If my parents ever found out that we were on that ice, they would have killed us.  OK, maybe not kill, but I'm sure we would not have been sitting down for a while.  I look back now and realize how dangerous it was, and how blessed we are to have lived through all that craziness.  I'm thankful that the ice was strong, and I hope everyday that my daughter is a lot smarter than I was as a kid!

What kind of things did you do as a kid that would have upset your parents?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blog Dare Day 10 - My Favorite Retro Toy...Tinkertoys!

When I was a small child, my great aunt took care of me while my parents worked.  She lived out in the country and most of the time I spent my days playing out in the yard or in the garden.  On rainy days, or on the days it was just too hot to be outside, I would spend HOURS playing with this wonderful container of Tinkertoys!  I loved playing with them so much.  There was so many things I could make, and I thought this was the best toy ever made. 

Years have passed since I spent those carefree afternoons designing cars and buildings with the Tinkertoys.  My great aunt has long since passed, and the much loved container no longer sits waiting for a child to pick them up.  I miss those days, but I am pleased to know that I can still purchase these wonderful toys.  I have purchased some, and I can't wait to share my love of Tinkertoys with another generation!

What is your favorite retro toy?  What special memories does it bring back?

Blog Dare Day 9 - I never thought I'd find this in my child's room...

This is such a strange prompt to me, because nothing that I find in my daughter's room surprises me...anymore.  

The only thing I could think about was how my brother used to live in a disaster area and my mother would only go into his room when we were running low on dishes in the kitchen.  My brother would have plates, utensils and cups in his closet, under his bed, and sometimes even in his dresser!  YUCK.  We used to say that he was growing his own penicillin!  I was the neat freak who could tell if someone had moved a book on my bookcase.  I could not stand my brother's mess! 

My daughter is not a neat freak, but she is not quite like my brother.  She brings out her dirty clothes each week, and she brings her dishes back before bedtime every day.  We have a humanine(Shih Tzu) and 2 humalines(our cats), and they leave their toys in her bedroom...and once our female kitty brought a field mouse into the room, but we quickly removed it.  After a lot of thinking, all I could come up with is...before we moved, I found a half empty bottle of gatorade under my daughter's bed.  When I looked at it, the liquid was thick and hairy(mold).  The gatorade was out of date by 6 months, so I have no idea how long it had been there.  It quickly found its way to the trash can!  Now, the house rules state that all floor areas must be checked more surprises for me!

What kinds of things do you find in your child's room?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Blog Dare Day 8 - Too much TV : Sometimes

There are a few television shows that I really enjoy watching. My viewing habits have changed a lot over the years, but I still love General Hospital. My teen years were spent watching the adventures of Luke and Laura. I loved watching the crazy Ice Princess caper and when Robert Scorpio came on the seen. I loved all the love in the afternoon...and even have two copies of the 45rpm record of General Hospi-tale. TV was fun then...I dreamer about joining them on their escapades. OH the memories.

Television has changed now. The topics are not as fun anymore. I find myself watching Criminal Minds, CSI and NCIS. Crime dramas seem to draw my attention, TruTV calls me and reality shows are oft watched as well. I like having to use my mind and piece together evidence to figure out "Who done it." Maybe this has de-sensitized me...maybe that is why we watch less and less...

My family can agree on one thing...watching sports. We are thankful that we have more options for football games. It is a bonding activity here. Maybe I should look for more sports to watch, or maybe I need to turn off the TV and just enjoy the quiet...what would you choose?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blog Dare Day 7: Something I need daily...

Honestly, I put a lot of thought into this prompt.  There are a lot of things that I need daily.  I need the necessities of life, food, clothing, shelter...water!  There are a lot of other things that I want to have daily, but they are not NEEDS.  I came down to one thing that I really need to survive everyday, and that is LOVE.  I thrive on the love I receive from my family and my friends.  I NEED to get hugs, kisses and I love yous from my daughter and my husband everyday.  I need to talk with my parents and my grandma and share my love with them.  I need to spend time in prayer, feeling the love of God.  It is a necessity for me.  Nothing matters to me more than my family and my faith.  The two go hand in hand, because God taught us how to love when He gave His ONLY begotten Son.  I feel God's love in the things around me, and I am truly blessed!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blog Dare Day 6 - My Special Place

The hardest thing I do is actually take some me time.  I am wrapped up into the lives of my family members, making sure all their needs are met, and most times, I forget me!  When I actually get around to some me time, I usually wait until my hubby has left for work, and my daughter is on the school bus.  What I do next is usually a secret, but I will share it with you.  On the days I take some me time, I grab my journal and my favorite pen and I crawl back in to my bed.  The TV will play music in the background and the fan will be blowing in my face as I stretch out thinking.  If  I can grab me time later in the day, I jump into my old recliner, grab my General Hospital blanket and start thinking.  Sometimes, late in the evening, I'll run a hot bath, light some candles, play some music, and sit in thought.  When my mind has finally finished sorting things, I pick up my journal and start writing down my thoughts.  There is no right and wrong way to put my thoughts on paper, but I find that by getting everything out, I feel better.  I start to realize that the things that seemed so horrible to me are not has bad as I had imagined.  When I am finished writing, all is right with my world again!

My special place is no place special, it is just somewhere I feel safe, warm, and able to be myself!  Do you have a special place?  What things do you do there?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blog Dare Day 5 - Something lost...

2011 was a rough year for my family, since we lost my Papa on January 25th.  I have written about that loss several times, so I am going a different direction with this post.  As you know we found black mold in our house last year.  This is where my post begins.

I moved into our old house after leaving an abusive 1st marriage in 2001.  In 2002, when my hubby and I got together, it became our family home and we started remodeling it to meet our needs.  We had painted, put new flooring down, and done landscaping to beautify our new home.  We planted a tree the day we got married, to commemorate the day we became a family.  The door on the master bathroom had lines on it which signified how my daughter had grown.  The rose bushes in the yard were planted as Mother's Day gifts and the flower beds that were gifts from my hubby and daughter became the final resting place of numerous frogs, fish and even a hamster, who passed on while we lived there. 

There is a 12 foot tall magnolia tree in the front yard that we planted on our daughter's first day of school.  It was less than 2 feet tall when we planted it.  It grew as she did, and each year, we took a picture of her beside her tree on the first day of school.  A "dwarf" peach tree is growing there on the left side of the yard, next to the driveway.  This tree produced thousands of delicious peaches during the last 9 years. 

The black mold cost us a lot more than just our home.  All the reminders of how our family had grown during that time are no longer visible to me everyday.  I carry the memories with me in my heart, and in photos.  I am still sad...I'm sad that we had to move away from our first home.  As we strive to make our new house a home, I still think about what we had to leave behind.  Something lost...our first family home, but the memories remain!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blog Dare Day 4 - What I Shouldn't Have Bought During the Holidays

Shopping is something that I really enjoy doing.  I take my time and try to pick out just the right thing for everyone.  The purchases that I make for myself are few and far between, but when it comes to the things I regret purchasing...they were generally purchased for me! 

Christmas this year was a blast for me.  I had won a lot of my presents, so I did not have to spend the extra I could pick up something for myself.  I purchased some special goodies for the family to eat, and I ended up eating most of it!  I had been doing a great job of eating healthier...and this snack purchase caused me to mess that up.  My blood sugars went up, and I had to take some insulin...GRRR!

I am back on track and my blood sugars are back to normal.  I should not have purchased the delicious butter toffee and macadamia nut covered popcorn...but it sure was delicious!

What did you buy during the holidays that you shouldn't have purchased? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Blog Dare Day 3 - My Bucket List

I had never thought about all the things I really wanted to do before I die.  As a matter of fact, I prefer NOT thinking about death at all!  The idea of making a bucket list is still pretty foreign to me, but I will do my best to share my thoughts with you.  These are things I want to do, or accomplish within the next 20 years anyway!

My Bucket List:
  1.  Go to Hawaii...I have always wanted to visit there, and see all the beauty and history
  2. Write a novel and have it published!
  3. Take a cruise to the Mediterranean!
  4. Visit England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with my hubby...this is a huge dream for him!
  5. Own a NEW car!
  6. Complete a half marathon.
  7. Take my parents on a cross country car trip.
  8. Take my daughter to California to see Hollywood.
  9. Actually make it to BLOGHER, or any other Bloggers Get Together!!
  10. Learn to sew
  11. Become a great blogger!
These might not be the biggest dreams, but I would love to accomplish these things!  I want to take the trips with my family members, not alone.  Most of all, I want to enjoy my life, and everything the future holds! - Chore Charts for Everyone, Even Tweens and Teens

When my daughter was small, we had this cute little chore chart that was on her bedroom door. She was so excited when we would check off everything she had accomplished each day. As she got older, and the chores became less fun, and more like work, we found her less than enthusiastic to work on her chores, much less check them off her Disney chore chart. LOL! I guess I should have looked for a chore chart that grew with my daughter! has some of the cutest chore charts that I have ever seen.  They are age appropriate for your little kids on up to your teenagers!  Want to know the best part?  It is FREE!  You can use this chart for many things, like:
  • Responsibility; A Chore Chart is an ideal way to help your kids feel like they are making a contribution to their family by doing their part around the house.
  • Understanding right from wrong; Setting behavior goals is an important way to help children strengthen their character and judgment.
  • Healthy Habits; Teaching good habits involving nutrition and physical activity are the cornerstone of prevent obesity in children and adolescents.
  • Money Matters; The optional point system teaches children three important lessons for managing money; earning, spending and saving.
You can either use it online, which is ideal for my teenager, or you can print it out and hang it up.  I also love that you can create your own chores, and change the chore charts when the need arises!

Do you use a chore chart for your kids?  Let me know your thoughts on!

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post part as part of a program with goalforit! and MomSelect~ Although I will be compensated for this post, all opinions are honest and my own!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Chefy Says: Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Batter should be red. If a brighter red is desired, add an additional 1/2 tsp food coloring. Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.

Prepare cheesecake mixture. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.

Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled.

Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.
Makes 16 large brownies or 24 smaller brownies

This recipe is a huge hit with friends and family!   They are Shelly's favorite brownies!!

Blog Dare Day 2 - A look back at 2011....

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Looking back is always filled with a mixture of happiness and sadness.  Life is filled with these moments that define who we are.  One word that could describe my 2011 would be TRYING!  My family went through lots of trials last year, and we are praying that 2012 brings us happiness and peace!

OUR 2011 at a glance...

JANUARY:  We lost Papa to cancer on the 25th.  This was one month after it was found! We still miss him everyday!
Last photo of PaPa & our daughter

MARCH:  My hubby, CHEFY turned 36! 

JULY: Our baby girl turns 13!! I can hardly believe I have a teenager...but I do!
 We found BLACK MOLD in July too, but having a teenager trumps mold anytime!

SEPTEMBER:  I turned 45....WOW! (And we started moving...ugh)
OCTOBER thru DECEMBER:  Between moving into our new place and cleaning out our old one, I got sick.  I had numerous health issues during these three months!  Also, we lost my Great Aunt Sarah on the 29th of December...and added a new family member when Pistol was born on the 30th!
What did your 2011 look like?  With a blessing being born to end our year, I'm anticipating an exciting 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blog Dare Day 1 - My Social Media Goals for 2012.

I decided to join the Blog Dare this year!  I am vowing to post everyday in 2012!  This is day #1, Jan. 1, 2012!

When I started blogging over three years ago, I was not sure if it was something that I would continue doing, but at the time, I was doing it as a bit of therapy for myself.  As time progressed, I realized that I loved blogging and I am so happy that I kept going!! 

Over the last few years, I have tried Facebook and Twitter.  I enjoy Facebook for some things, but Twitter is the social media outlet that I use most often.  In 2012, I would like to see my Twitter followers increase to over 5000, and I would love to see my Facebook get to 3000!  My blog will be going through changes in 2012 as well.  I will be moving over to my own domain!  BUT, more on that as the time gets closer!!  Expect to see more of Shelly's Bits and Pieces in 2012.  I'll be coming at ya with more product reviews, giveaways, recipes, deal information, and bits and pieces of my crazy life!  I look forward for sharing with you!

God Bless Y'all
Til next time....

Happy New Year 2012!

WOW!  I can hardly believe another year has come and gone!  My family had a year full of ups and downs in 2011.  My PAPA passed away on January 25th, my health was all over the board, we found black mold in our house and had to move, then on Dec 29, my great aunt passed away.  We did end the year on some happy cousin, who I have considered my little sister since she was born, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on Dec.30th!!  This was less than 24 hours after her grandma passed!  Mommy and baby are healthy!! 
Happy New Year everyone!  Wishing you all a safe and prosperous 2012!