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Spinach Artichoke Penne with Chicken

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

Cooler weather is here and that means it’s time for comfort food! There is just something about when the temperatures begin to drop and wanting a nice warm casserole. Plus casseroles are the perfect thing for busy moms, they tend to be quick and easy to put together which is perfect for weeknight dinners or that holiday party that someone forgot to tell us about. I love that with a few ingredients I can have a complete, tasty dinner for my family with minimal effort, like my husband’s favorite, Spinach Artichoke Penne with Chicken. It is what happened when holiday party food meets dinner.

Spinach Artichoke Penne with Chicken | My Hot Southern Mess

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Giving Back and Easy DIY Gift Bags

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

How do you give back during the holiday season? Do you volunteer? Do you do small random acts of kindness? What do you do? While I volunteer year round I do extra during the holidays to help make sure everyone has a great holiday. Each fall I figure out and develop a plan that centers around our military members and veterans and what I can do for them.  It usually revolves on small homemade or store bought goodies of all types that let them know they are being thought about.  I learned that small stockings can be hard to find and when you do, they can get expensive but making my own DIY Gift Bags were a snap! Sure I could buy them but when you are needing a bunch it is often cost effective to make your own. Plus, I could have the sizes I need with all sorts of different patterns. They are a great way to wrap, give, and repeat during the holiday season.

Giving Back and Easy DIY Gift Bags | My Hot Southern Mess

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A Veterans Story

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The Folger Coffee Company. The opinions and text are all mine. #sharefolgers #veteransday
Growing up Veterans Day was significant to me because of my grandfathers. They had both served in the US Army during World War II. They were my only connection to military life but, unfortunately, they passed before I was ever old enough to hear their stories. It wasn’t until I got married that I completely understood what the day was about and how important their stories were. Over seventeen years ago I married my husband and became an Army spouse. Since then this Army life has introduced me to so many others who have also served, each with their own story.

A Veterans Story | My Hot Southern Mess

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Big Slice™ Apples Review

Earlier this month I received a package from Big Slice™ Apples. It was full of their various apple products and I have to say I was excited to try them out! I love apples and the different flavors all sounded delicious. I could not wait to try them!

Big Slice™ Apples Review | Country Girl Gourmet

I have seen the pouches in the store many times and have almost bought them. The pouches always say buy me, buy me but I always end up putting them back. After trying them, there will be no more of this putting them back nonsense.

Big Slice Apples Review | Country Girl Gourmet
I decided to take a pouch with me for an after long run snack. My blood sugar always drops at the end of a long run. I have been taking a small bottle of Mountain Dew with me but I really don’t like drinking soda. During the spring I had my first bad experience with my blood sugar dropping at the end of a race. I was forced to drink my first Coca-Cola in 6 years and did the trick so i’ve stuck with soda.  I am glad I took the pouch of Big Slice™ Apples though. Those bottles of soda will be a thing of the past! The apples tasted great and worked faster than the soda at getting rid of my post run low blood sugar. Talk about a win-win!

Big Slice Apples Review| Country Girl Gourmet
Need some more reasons to try it for yourself? Big slice is:

  • All- natural with no artificial ingredients or preservatives
  • Made with real fruits and superfoods (100% USA grown apples)
  • Naturally gluten free and fat free
  • Vegan
  • Non- GMO (with the exception of Pineapple Passion Fruit)
  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • Around 100 Calories
  • BPA Free
  • Based on an authentic heritage recipe

Big Slice Apples Review | Country Girl Gourmet

Big Slice™ Apples are now a regular part of my marathon training and will continue to be part of my healthy diet. While they are delicious straight out of the packet. They are also perfect on top (and mixed in with) some vanilla greek yogurt or on top of a waffle. They have so many different great flavors from natural to raspberry hibiscus and green coffee extract to my favorite cinnamon french toast, they have a flavor for everybody!

Big Slice Apples Review| Country Girl Gourmet

Want to try them for yourself? Be sure to enter the giveaway below for the opportunity to win 12 sample pouches, Big Slice™ Tumbler, spork (or Jars) with a total retail value of $50!

 

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Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion

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

One of the many things that my kids do that makes me beam inside with proudness is when my kids show the world how caring they are. They do this in a multitude of ways from simply being helpful and nice to each other to helping out friends and others. It is one of the many ways I know that I must be doing something right.  The day I watched my oldest son buy something for his friend (without asking me for money, if he could or should) was an eye opening moment. Maybe it shouldn’t have been because kids learn by example and I have tried to be a good one for my kids. They have always known that mommy volunteers and is a helper. It is how I try to make the world a better place. Whether it be a random act of kindness to giving a friend a surprise gift, you never know how your action may be that one thing that turns their no good, horrible day around. I know personally, I love those random gifts that say hey I’m thinking of you! Seriously, who doesn’t like receiving a gift?


Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet
Right now if you head over to Walmart you will find some extra special boxes of Cheerios™.

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

On specially marked  boxes they have a special “Give a Box” peelie. Boxes with this peelie allow you to buy your box and share another box with someone you care about by entering the special code on the peelie. Isn’t that awesome

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

After all who doesn’t love Cheerios ™?  It was the first finger food of many kids. I know I fed my kiddos the wholesome goodness of Cheerios ™ and always had a baggie full in my diaper bag for them for while we were out and about. Heck, I think my kids sometimes survived on them. They loved them! My kids didn’t just eat them though. They were perfect for potty training to give my boys some potty time target practice.They were perfect for working on fine motor skills and we would make necklaces with them looped on. When learning letters we even glued them onto paper in the shapes of different letters. The things you could do with them were endless!

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

Once I had gone to Walmart and bought my box, I needed to decide who to give my special code to.  I decided to give my code to Brandy from Glue Sticks, a fellow Social Fabric blogger. I hope she likes the gift and it brightens her day a little bit! With a big family like mine I have a feeling it might. I know cereal never lasts that long around my house. My boys, especially my oldest, can polish off a single box in one sitting if we aren’t watching!

A bowl of cereal on school days is a rarity around my house though. Breakfast tends to be grab something quick and go. Making sure my daughter gets to elementary school, my other son middle and the oldest to high school can be a juggling act some mornings so I have gotten creative in the kitchen. I created Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Cheerios ™ Bars. They have the wholesome goodness of Cheerios ™ with the added protein of almonds and a bit of sweetness. They have become my kids new, on the go favorite breakfast!

The recipe is pretty simple. I mix Honey Nut Cheerios ™ with sliced almonds, chia seed and dried cherries and set it aside while I cook the mix that holds the bars together.

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

 

The glue that holds the bars together is a combination of honey, brown sugar, almond butter and vanilla extract. You cook the honey and brown sugar together until the brown sugar has dissolved. Then you remove from the heat and add the almond butter and vanilla and combine well.

Carefully pour the hot almond butter mix into the cereal mix and stir well, making sure everything is well coated.

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

Pour into a prepared pan and evenly spread out.

Top with melted dark chocolate.

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Place pan in the refrigerator and allow to cool 1-2 hours. When cool  remove from pan and cut into bars. I typically can get 12 bars.

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

My kids now have a grown up way of eating Cheerios™ that they love! I have made them several times now with and without chocolate to the same reaction, “can I have more?” I am planning on making up some more real soon. I think they would be perfect as a gift in a care package! It would be another  great way to brighten someone’s day with Cheerios™.

How would you brighten someone’s day? Who would you give a box of Cheerios™ too?

Brightening Days with Cheerios™ and the Give a Box Promotion | Country Girl Gourmet

 

Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Cheerios ™ Bars
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups Cheerios
  • ½ cup Dried Cherries
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia Seed
  • ½ cup Honey
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Almond Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla paste (or extract)
  • 1 10oz bag of Dark Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Line 8x8 square pain and cover with foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. Mix Honey Nut Cheerios ™ with sliced almonds, chia seed and dried cherries and set aside.
  3. Cook the honey and brown sugar together until the brown sugar has dissolved.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the almond butter and vanilla and combine well.
  5. Carefully pour the hot almond butter mix into the cereal mix and stir well, making sure everything is well coated.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and evenly spread out.
  7. Melt Chocolate chips in the Microwave in a microwave safe boil. Stirring every minute until melted.
  8. Top cereal mixture with melted dark chocolate.
  9. Place pan in the refrigerator and allow to cool 1-2 hours. When cool remove from pan and cut into bars.

 

As you may have heard, some select boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios produced over two weeks in July at the Lodi, California plant, have been recalled due to a wheat allergen. This recall only affects consumers with Celiac disease or a gluten-sensitivity. To learn more about the recall, and if your product is affected please go to: http://blog.generalmills.com

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 yoursunnyday.com

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.

yoursunnyday.com

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 ChevySalutes.com 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.