Lil Bits of Life

The Blogger Diaries… My Best Tips

On my runs, I often come up with ideas about things to write about. Sometimes I forget and then times like today I remember. What can I say, I can be a hot mess. On my latest run. the one thing that kept popping up in my head was all the advice that is out there about, how to blog. Yes, I am a small blogger in this great big blogging world but I have been at it for a while. Long enough that I can share my best blogging tips out of my blogger diaries.


Hello 2017!

Another Year is past us and it is on to a new year, Hello 2017! I really think the older you get the faster the years go by and if 2016 is any indication, this year will be half over before I know it. I guess that means getting my act together, making resolutions and all of that fun stuff. Who am I kidding, I don’t make resolutions. I am a self-confessed, hot mess, I don’t have time for all that silliness. Instead, 2017 will be my year of the big 4-0 and finding out what that means.

Hello 2017! | My Hot Southern Mess


Recovery after Hurricane Matthew

On Saturday, October 8, Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina. This is a fact that I cannot ignore. I cannot post blogs about food and other things I had planned without addressing the fact that I live in an area that is now entering the recovery stage from a natural disaster. The county I live in has been approved for support from FEMA. Our neighboring counties are in the same boat. I know those still without electricity, water, or both. Our communities are dealing with shortages of both fuel and food on top of everything else. When I see the pictures of areas that were hit much worse than my neighborhood, my heart breaks for those families. I am thankful that things were not worse for my family.

Recovery after Hurricane Matthew | My Hot Southern Mess


Why I’m loving Pokemon Go

I know it’s been a hot minute since my last blog post. I have no excuse other than life took over. My running and weight loss, garden full of evil squash bugs, kids being out of school, getting them to their summer activities, catching up on doctor appointments and a mini trip to NY. I just haven’t figured out my routine that doesn’t involve falling asleep late at night while i’m trying to write. Now things have been made just bit more harder with Pokemon Go. Yes, now Pokemon Go. I am most definitely not a video game person. I played a few video games as a kid but outside of a few Atari games and Super Mario, I was never that interested. My kids have had multiple game systems over the years, a Xbox, Playstation’s and a Wii in addition to their hand held DS’s. Outside of Wii Sports and Cooking Mama I rarely played with them. The games on my phone, they are my kids. Facebook games, please don’t send me a request but Pokemon Go. I am in my thirties but all about it, it weird but good.

Why I'm Loving Pokemon Go | My Hot Southern Mess


Road Trip Vehicle Maintenance

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerCarCare #CollectiveBias

With just over a month left of school left and summer around the corner vacation plans are being made. My family has been talking about all of the possible road trips we could take. Being a large family road trips in our SUV are our preferred method of vacation travel. It is the most cost effective way for all 6 of us to travel. An added plus is we can usually bring our dogs too! Taking our cars does mean a little bit of extra work to get ready for vacation. We have to make sure vehicle maintenance is done. Nobody wants something to happen to their car while away from home. To save money this is something that we do ourselves. Road trip vehicle maintenance is pretty easy to do, seriously, even I can do it! I have even come up with a printable checklist to help you do it yourself too!

 Road Trip Vehicle Maintenance | My Hot Southern Mess


Sunny Days with SunTrust Bank

This is a sponsored blog post written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all my own.

Summer is starting to wind down, here soon my kiddos will all be back to school and the hot, dog days of summer will be behind us. Summer will soon only be a memory. Seriously, where has the time gone? It seems like it was only yesterday that the kids were getting ready to finish the school year and we were planning on how to spend our summer.

For my family a big part of the summer was planning to go to my younger brother’s wedding. While weddings are expensive they are not only expensive for those throwing the wedding but they can be expensive for their guests was well. Depending on where the wedding is you are left needing money to pay to travel to the wedding, and a hotel room. Then there is the matter of what to wear to the wedding. Do you have something in your closet that will work or do you need to buy something. Don’t forget about your family, does your husband need a suit? What about your kid’s?  How is your hair looking, you may need to make an appointment for that. Your nails too while we are at it. Oh and we can’t forget the kiddos, those boys could use a haircut. Then we can’t forget a wedding gift that is in addition to the wedding shower gifts. Weddings are expensive and being a family living on mainly one income that means one thing we need to set aside and save money.

Sunny Days with SunTrust Bank |Country Girl Gourmet

Being financially responsible is just part of my families life. Sure we could buy things and use credit cards but we would rather not have the debt. We choose to save our money for all of the important things in our life. While we have an emergency fund and save for rainy days we also save for sunny days.  Sunny days include things like vacation, special occasions like my brother’s wedding and Christmas and birthday presents.  My husband, our families chief financial officer, has both short and long term goals planned out. We work together on the different things that we want to save up for.

Sunny Days with SunTrust Bank |Country Girl GourmetWhen we decide to add a new savings goal there are a few things we do.  The first step is figure out how much money we are going to need. To do this we get out the good ole pen and paper and make a list. Everything and anything related to our saving goal is added to the list. No item is too small. When it comes to saving having more money is better than not enough money to obtain your goal.  Once we have our list created we figure out the costs of everything on the list and add it up. We now have our savings goal. Once we have our savings goal we can then look at our family budget and figure out we can reasonably save towards that goal.

Sunny Days with SunTrust Bank |Country Girl GourmetBeing able to save and reach your goals gives such a great sense of accomplishment. You did it and you don’t need to worry about how you are now going to repay loans or pay off credit card bills. I know I feel much better not worrying about how i’m going to pay those types of bills. It also allows me to look into the future at what I may need to be saving for next. For my family it looks like we will be going to another wedding next summer as my parents renew their vows for their 40th anniversary! I guess we should start saving for that Sunny Day!

Sunny Days with SunTrust Bank |Country Girl Gourmet

SunTrust Bank feels that we should all be planning for our sunny days. They believe that everyone deserves the financial confidence and control to live a life well spent. Everyday should be a sunny day and spent enjoying all the moments that matter most to you.

Sunny Days with SunTrust bank | Country Girl Gourmet

What is your sunny day? Begin planning yours at

Sunny Days start here.  At SunTrust, we have the tools and resources to help you achieve your sunny day. Start here to find out how we can help you enjoy the things that matter most to you.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  They know we all live for the sunny days and want to you help you live yours.

Subscribe to the Shine newsletter and receive inspiration and advice twice a month to help you live for a sunny day.

Visit the SunTrust resource center anytime for help achieving your financial goals.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.

Military Life: 8 Tips For Planning a Staycation #ChevySalutes

Being a military family we often have challenges when it comes to planning vacations. With my husband’s job we cannot really plan too far in advance and to make things a little trickier he does not get to pick when he is going to take leave. Unfortunately, many times his vacation days do not line up with the time our kids have off from school. What’s a military family to do? I can tell you what we do. Our family has embraced the staycation.

A staycation is a fun and affordable way to get out and explore what is right where you live or within a few hours. In addition to discovering what was in our own backyard our staycations have taken us to the beach, mountains, national parks, amusement parks and every where in between. Whenever we move to a new duty station one of the first things we figure out once we get settled in is all the cool places we want to go visit.  The next challenge is visiting all of the places we want to go before my husband gets orders to a new duty station. Our staycations are part of how our family finds new roads to bloom where we have been planted. Discovering what is around you is key to falling in love with and loving your duty station.

8 Tips For Planning a Staycation #ChevySalutes

Here are my top 8 tips for planning a Staycation:


8. Research, Research, Research! Thanks to the internet information is at your fingertips. Check with your local visitor bureau and see what is interesting in your area. You can also request visitor guides to be sent to your home.

7. Have a family meeting. Get your entire family involved! Find out what they are interested in seeing and doing.

6. Make a list. Figure out everything you and your family want to do and write it down. Seeing everything you want to do written out can help you decide exactly where you want to go and what you want to do.

5. Set a budget. You may be staying at home but very few things in life are free. Come up with a budget of what you can spend for fuel, food, tickets and whatever other expenses you may incur.

4.Plan Your Itinerary.  Decide on dates and where you are going. Find specials and deals on local attractions. Don’t forget to check your installations Tickets and Tours office!

3. Plan for a road trip. If you are driving an hour or two away from home make sure you everything you need for your family. A car with plenty of room, snacks, your kids favorite toys, electronics and chargers make for a much smoother ride.

2. Check the weather first! Nothing is worse than planning a great outdoor adventure and then it get’s ruined by rain. Check the weather before you leave and reschedule if needed.

1. Have Fun! Above everything a staycation is time to spend time with family and relax. Let loose and have fun! There is no reason to stress while on vacation!

Summer is prime time for staycations and if you are in the market for a new car that would be perfect for your staycation road trips, Chevrolet has a great deal going on in May for Military Appreciation Month. Chevrolet is honoring those in the military with the best discount program out of any car company because Chevrolet feels those who serve deserve a great discount! Chevrolet Military Program is open to  all veterans, this includes Active Duty, Reserves and Retirees and their spouses of all branches (U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard).  An added plus is you can combine this discount with most other current incentives. For instance USAA members also receive an additional $750 private offer.

Have you ever taken a staycation? How do you find new roads when you PCS?


#chevysalutes contest on instagram!

Check out the #ChevySalutes #FindNewRoads Instagram Contest that will run from May 4-17, 2015. Those that enter have the chance to win 1 of 3 prizes (1 grand prize, 2 runners up) by sharing photos or videos that show how their military family finds new roads or how we can support our military service members and their families as they find new roads. Make sure you enter, you never know your picture could be the grand prize winner!

Make sure to connect with Chevrolet on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and follow the #chevysalutes #FindNewRoads hashtags. You can also check out to learn more about Chevrolet’s military discount program during Military Appreciation Month


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chevrolet via MSB New Media. The opinions and text are all mine.


Today, December 2nd is  #GivingTuesday. To put it simply it is a day that is all about giving back.

Today people from all over will be coming together to do what they can to give  what they can. Although I feel people should give back on a regular basis having this day warms my heart. I have been a volunteer since I was a teen. In high school I did a variety of things but one thing that sticks out was volunteering struggling Math students across the street at the middle school. Yeah, I tutored math. As an adult I have volunteered for a large variety of organizations and I continue to do so. My newest volunteer job is the Co- Community Outreach Director for Team RWB at Fort Bragg. I can’t wait to really get going with that! A positive to all my volunteer work is that my kids love to give back too! My oldest has started his adventures in volunteer work and my other kid’s love doing what they can. From collecting canned goods and old coats to just helping me with what I am doing. It is important for our children to see us giving back because they learn from us. When they learn from us they can see the positive that giving back does. They will learn why it is so important for them to give back also.

On this #GivingTuesday  I want to share with you some great places to volunteer and give back  as well as some great ideas to give back in your own community!

#givingtuesday | Country Girl Gourmet


There are ton’s of great organizations out there that would love your help. Here are a few of my favorites!

  1. Team RWB
  2. Blue Star Families
  3. USO
  4. Operation Homefront
  5. Fisher House
  6. Armed Services YMCA
  7. The Red Cross
  8. Special Olympics
  9. United Way
  10. Habitat for Humanity
  11. Homes for our Troops
  12. Toys for Tots

Looking for some other ways to give back? Check out these ideas!

  1. Do something (you are good at) for someone that is in need (car repair, painting, yard work,etc.)
  2. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter.
  3. Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
  4. Deliver meals (Meals for Wheels)
  5. Volunteer at your local Food Bank (sorting food, etc.)
  6. Volunteer at local Running Races (they almost always need course support and many support great causes)
  7. Coach Youth Sports
  8. Donate Food to your local Food Bank (Think outside the canned veggies and creamed soups)
  9. Donate old clothes, coats, blankets, toys, books, etc.
  10. Photographers, donate your time and skills for local events (OpLove, Hearts Apart, Gold Hope Project )
  11. Visit local nursing homes and Veterans hospitals
  12. Make care packages for seniors and veterans.
  13. Bake cookies and other baked goods for your community helpers (fire, police, paramedics/EMT’s)
  14. Volunteer your time at a local school. (Schools are always in need of volunteers from Testing Proctors to Tutoring)
  15. Clean up litter in your neighborhood and community.
  16. Become a peer counselor ( Boys and Girls Club of America)
  17. Donate new toys, blankets, knit/crochet hats and snacks to the pediatric ward at your local children’s hospital
  18. Adopt a family for the Holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving , etc.)
  19. Donate Blood! While you are at it become an Organ Donor also!
  20. Become a volunteer fire fighter or EMT


I am only just getting started here. You don’t need to be a millionaire and spend money. You just need to be able to spare some of your time. There are so many organizations out there that want your help. To get started you can check out .  They have a wide variety of volunteer jobs just waiting for you.

So what do you think? How will you be supporting those in your community tomorrow on #GivingTuesday?






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