The season of giving at Northwest Arkansas Mall

I received a $200 gift card from the NWA Mall and its management company as well as gift cards to use in the giveaways as compensation for this post. All opinions, pictures and experiences are my own.

NWA Mall Angel Tree Collage

 

When I was a teenager and even in my 20s, I would usually use my birthday money to purchase Christmas gifts for family and friends. I know that Christmas isn’t about getting stuff, but giving gifts is a way to demonstrate that we value someone in our life by picking out something we think they would like.

Over the years I also would try to participate in some form of “giving back,” especially Angel Tree through the Salvation Army in Northwest Arkansas. I love the idea of showing a child that an adult out there cares enough to help them have a nice Christmas. I know the kids from Angel Tree don’t know usually that their gifts are donated, but I figure it’s a way of helping the child’s parent(s) and that’s enough. I don’t see it as charity, I see it as community.

With living in Northwest Arkansas, I have plenty of shopping options. I love the Northwest Arkansas Mall because it’s climate-controlled and has a lot of variety. There’s local stores and national chains. I also appreciate the great variety in the Food Court, where I can get everything from American, Chinese, Italian or Greek food.

I was thrilled to work with the mall recently to highlight holiday shopping opportunities, including the chance to participate in Angel Tree. And guess what? The Angel Tree project was extended to Dec. 10 so there’s still time. I’m also partnering with the NWA Mall to offer four gift cards to stores in the mall. See below for those giveaway opportunities. Continue Reading →

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#GoNutsforNuts with holiday (or any time) granola

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Have you ever noticed that around the holidays, tons of snack foods are available and most of them are carby? It seems that most the time the only protein snacks available are meat and cheese trays. That’s why when I got the opportunity to work with the Planters #GoNutsforNuts campaign with #CollectiveBias, I knew exactly what I wanted to make: Holiday Fruit and Nut Granola.

I plan on taking this with me to visit family for Thanksgiving to give everyone something yummy but also a little more protein-rich to nibble on. I’m also guessing that it will taste amazing with almond milk as cereal! (Update: we did take this granola with us at Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit!). Continue Reading →

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Amy Grant goes outside the box with ‘Heart In Motion: The Remixes’ (a review)

I was provided with a free copy of this CD from Family Christian for my review. All opinions and pictures are my own.

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As long as I can remember, Amy Grant music has been a part of my life. Even when I didn’t actively listen to her, I appreciated the older songs from my childhood. Her song All I Ever Have to Be is a reassuring anthem for my life right now when I feel like I have to be all the things to all the people.

Her lyrics remind me I am enough.

I was recently offered the opportunity through Family Christian to review one of Amy Grant’s latest works, Heart in Motion: the Remixes and I jumped at the chance. Continue Reading →

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For the love of pumpkins

Pumpkin hero

 

Isn’t that pumpkin cute? I don’t like scary or gross designs in pumpkins. I like the cute, friendly jack o’lanterns. The one about was at my doctor’s office and as you can see, it lights up inside.

A friend of mine Laurie from See Laurie Write has started a new weekly link-up with a writing prompt and this week it was pumpkins. I love me some pumpkin!

I love pumpkins as decoration, like above. I usually don’t decorate with real pumpkins because they rot. I have some cute plastic pumpkins that I need to get out on my front porch pronto! The butterflies and ladybugs from summer are starting to look a little weird.

I also like weird “pumpkins”  that are real.

OK, OK. This isn't a pumpkin. It's a Turkish Turban Squash. But it looks cool doesn't it?

OK, OK. This isn’t a pumpkin. It’s a Turkish Turban Squash. But it looks cool doesn’t it?

 

Pumpkin as food

I used to say that I love pumpkin flavored food items but I’m finding that’s not exactly right. I love sweet pumpkin stuff and it has to have the spices in it. I’ve had pumpkin soup and pumpkin puree on a harvest sandwich and thought both were disgusting. As in like slimy goopy disgusting. For John’s birthday, he wanted Pumpkin Better Than Sex Cake and I thought it would be awesome! Not only did it make me sick because of all the sugar and dairy in it, I thought it was only so-so tasting. Just not “right.”

So isn’t it kinda funny that it’s now a tradition with my husband and I that for my birthday I always want a pumpkin item? He’s made me pumpkin cake, bought me a pumpkin roll and we’ve had pumpkin creme brulee (that was actually nothing special).

Do you love pumpkins? Do you carve them or use them whole as decoration? What’s your favorite pumpkin dish?

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Creating a community without need: A Harvest Party

I won a free ticket to the Cobblestone Project’s first Harvest Party and decided to blog on it on my own. All opinions and pictures are my own.

DSCN1443     A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to see Cobblestone Project at the Arkansas Women Bloggers University conference. I’ve loved this organization since they began in 2008 with just a few Northwest Arkansas families wanting to make a difference in the community. It’s faith-based, as it’s people putting their faith in action. But one of the things I love about Cobblestone is that it doesn’t “Bible thump” people. The various initiatives are designed simply to reduce need in our community and restore dignity and hope. At the #AWBU conference, Cobblestone offered a free ticket to a local blogger who won the drawing and that was me! I was thrilled and honored to attend the event.  Continue Reading →

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#IAmProtective … an essay from a gentle warrior

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One look at me and you might not think I’m much of a warrior. After all, I’m a lady in a wheelchair and like the picture above, I tend to be fairly calm and even-keeled (well, except when I’m not!). When it comes to my relationships and the people in those relationships, I become a warrior. I’m protective and fiercely so. Thanks to #CollectiveBias, I’m able to participate in the #IAmProtective Campaign to talk about what I’m most protective of and how I protect them. How do you protect your loved ones? Tell Protective, a life insurance corporation, what you’re protective of! They have a great site (see the link) where you can share your story.  Continue Reading →

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When we chose to adopt a dog (twice!) it helped complete our family

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Anyone following me on Instagram (or any social media platform for that matter) knows that I love my animals. John and I have four fur kids: two dogs and two cats. All were rescues-the cats were dumped and we adopted the dogs from a local shelter. We cherish the time with our pets and are so grateful to those who make it so easy to adopt a dog. I was so excited to learn of the opportunity through #CollectiveBias to talk about my dogs and how, through the #PedigreeGives program, we can all make a difference in the lives of shelter dogs during October with the donation of Pedigree dog food.

Our woof babies

When we moved to our house in Elkins, we knew we would get a dog. We specifically bought a house that would be good for a dog. We both adore our cats but also love dogs. We first adopted Flower who was a year-old shepherd mix (we think).

She had been adopted and returned several times because well, the humans were stupid. As in they didn’t give her the stomach medicine she needed then got upset when she got sick. The shelter worked to get her up to proper weight and healthy again and we continued the regiment when we adopted her.

Flower was more than a year old when we brought her home from the shelter. She was underweight but such a good dog.

Flower was more than a year old when we brought her home from the shelter. She was underweight but such a good dog. Healthy, protein-rich canned foods like Pedigree dog food is a great way to increase a dog’s weight in a healthy way. Giving them junk food will increase the weight but cause other health problems.

 

A couple of months later, we decided to help the shelter out by fostering a dog. It didn’t even take two weeks before we became foster failures … Flower and Jazzy loved each other so much and were so clearly connected that we couldn’t stand to break them up.

Jazzy was also underweight when we got her and we thought she was a beagle mix. Once she started to fill out, we realized she's a Black Mouth Cur. This is the first photo we took of her when we were trying to help get her adopted (she was our foster dog).

Jazzy was also underweight when we got her and we thought she was a beagle mix. Once she started to fill out, we realized she’s a Black Mouth Cur. This is the first photo we took of her when we were trying to help get her adopted (she was our foster dog). Last winter’s weather prevented her from getting enough exercise and we accidentally let her get overweight. We utilized Pedigree’s weight management canned food to help bring her back down to a healthy weight.

 

These two dogs are a perfect match for each other and our family. Their adoption made our family of six complete.

I happened to catch this shot of them together on my cell phone camera. They are two peas in a pod.

I happened to catch this shot of them together on my cell phone camera. They are two peas in a pod.

 

An adopters reunion

A couple weekends ago, the shelter where we got Jazzy and Flower hosted the coolest event. They had an Adopters Reunion where supporters, adopters and volunteers could come to a local park (and bring our adopted dogs!) for a party.

Image courtesy of the FAS Facebook page.

Image courtesy of the FAS Facebook page.

 

John, me and the #SmithPuppies at the FAS Adopters Reunion (yes, our pets have their own respective hashtags).

John, me and the #SmithPuppies at the FAS Adopters Reunion (yes, our pets have their own respective hashtags). You can tell from their panting it was really humid that day!

 

Participate in the #PedigreeGives campaign for Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

As I mentioned above, both our dogs came to the shelter sick and underweight. The shelter made great strides to improve their health and gave us good guidance on continuing that trend after we adopted them. Did you know that most shelters only serve their dogs high protein, healthy food? They are kind of picky on what foods they will accept as donations and they should be. The canned Pedigree dog food is on that list.

Any Pedigree dog food sold at Sam's Club qualifies for the #PedigreeGives program.

Any Pedigree dog food sold at Sam’s Club qualifies for the #PedigreeGives program.

This is a perfect match because in October, Pedigree will donate one bowl of dog food to a shelter for every Pedigree dog food product purchased at Sam’s Club.

What we did is when we went to purchase our own Pedigree canned dog food, we bought and extra package and will donate that to our local shelter. That way, we are in a way giving back twice. That means our dogs get high protein food, the shelter dogs at our local shelters get the same food, and Pedigree will donate the cost of two meals because of our purchase. 

What we did is when we went to purchase our own Pedigree canned dog food, we bought and extra package and will donate that to our local shelter. That way, we are in a way giving back twice. That means our dogs get high protein food, the shelter dogs at our local shelters get the same food, and Pedigree will donate the cost of two meals because of our purchase. If you have a new shelter pet, I would suggest starting with the chicken because it’s less rich.

 

I couldn't help but close with this in-store shot. Considering I call them my fur kids (or woof babies for the dogs), how ironic is it that in my Sam's Club, the Pet Care is next to the Baby Care?

I couldn’t help but close with this in-store shot. Considering I call them my fur kids (or woof babies for the dogs), how ironic is it that in my Sam’s Club, the Pet Care is next to the Baby Care?

 

One more thing…if you want to learn more about Pedigree, you should follow them on their social media accounts!

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Decisions made, new nuggets learned and friends revisited at #AWBU

A couple weekends ago, I had the opportunity to attend Arkansas Women Bloggers University…the annual conference for Arkansas Women Bloggers. This year was a bit different in several ways in that it was at a hotel (instead of a campground type place) and we had a few guys join us! James, Ryan and Peter fit in just fine with the about a 100 women who were in attendance.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to writing about this conference considering it was entirely about blogging! The three days were packed with fun, learning and friends. I won’t bore you with all my notes but if you do want to learn about a specific session, you can find them soon at the Arkansas Women Bloggers website. The pre-session descriptions are there now and those of us who spoke were asked to write summaries of our sessions and those will be posted on the ARWB blog soon. Oh, by the way: I was part of three-person panel who spoke about breaking into freelancing/self-employment as a writer. It was fun!

Before I go on, here’s a thank you to all our sponsors! The content and swag they helped provide was top notch. Seriously, I came home with four bags of swag which is more than any other conference I’ve attended. And it was all good stuff!

Continue Reading →

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Fitness in #NWARK and setting overall health goals with #BalanceRewards at Walgreens

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The trails at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art provides a unique and exquisite opportunity in Northwest Arkansas for fitness including biking, walking, and running. Leashed dogs are welcome.

 

In recent weeks I’ve talked a lot about various wellness concepts including taking healthy breaks from work to rejuvenate during the day, and staying hydrated. Today I want to talk about a way you can track your health goals using the Walgreens Balance Rewards for healthy choices program. Fortunately, between fitness opportunities in Northwest Arkansas and the health monitoring devices available at places like Walgreens, it’s easier to meet wellness goals. (Want to learn more about fitness in other areas? Follow the hashtag #BalanceRewards and #CollectiveBias to find messages from my fellow bloggers in other regions.) Continue Reading →

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How getting my seasonal flu shot helped a child through ‘Get a Shot. Give a Shot’ at Walgreens

New CB Disclosure 600px wide Shop_Walgreens_Give_Shot_Hero_Bandaids   I don’t remember the first time I got a flu shot but I bet it was in college, maybe high school. At the time, I just thought “it’s a good idea” but later I learned that certain people who are more at risk should definitely make sure to get a seasonal flu shot. Because of various health issues, I now know it’s vital for me to get my annual seasonal flu shot. That’s why I jumped at the chance when #CollectiveBias offered me the opportunity to talk about immunizations and how, through the Walgreens Get a Shot. Give a Shot program, I could help children in underdeveloped countries get the vaccinations they need. (Follow the hashtag #GetAShot to see other blogger’s stories about this program).  Continue Reading →

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