Review: Cave Tools Fish Grill Basket

*This is a sponsored post for Cave Tools. All opinions are mine.

Cooking fish on the grill is a totally different experience than cooking meat. I’ve found with different kinds of meat you can usually just put it on the grill and not worry too much about pieces falling off or getting caught on the grill.

Depending on what types of fish you cook and whether it has skin on it or not, cooking fish can become a little tricky. That’s where the Cave Tools Fish Grill Basket comes in handy.

I love to cook salmon so I decided to give my new gadget a try.

 

After seasoning it with garlic, salt, and pepper, I lightly sprayed the grill basket and put my salmon in. It was easy to get into the basket which snapped tightly so I knew the fish wasn’t going to fall out and spill out into the grill.

 

From there I gently placed it on the grill and waited for the magic to happen. The trick was to place the basket in the right direction so that the handles didn’t get stuck in the grill grates. The fish never fell out and cooked evenly. But, when it came when it came to turning over the fish, you need to be careful that the basket doesn’t get caught in the grates; no matter what kind of tongs or over mitts you use.

Once the fish was cooked, I took the basket off the grill and got it ready to serve. The fish was cooked perfectly. Although I had used cooking spray on the basket before putting the salmon in it, it did stick a bit as I tried to get it out. This was really the only issue I had besides figuring out how to turn over the basket without it getting stuck in the grill.

The Fish Grill Basket from Cave Tools is a great catch if you cook fish regularly and don’t want to get that fishy smell all over your grill. It’s also easy to clean and dish washer safe, so you won’t be scrubbing forever. If you want to order a basket from Cave Tools be sure to use the coupon code FISH15 to get 15% off a small fish grill basket.

 

 

Finding the Perfect Family Car with Cars.com

This is a sponsored post for Cars.com. All opinions are my own.

Whether you’re in the market for a new or used car, safety is priority number one when toting around your most precious cargo…your family. While we all know we want a safe car, what does that really mean? One that performs well in crash tests? One that has a good track record when it comes to repairs? Everyone looks for different traits when it comes to finding a safe vehicle, but I think everyone can agree on the fact that we wouldn’t put our family in any car that was deemed dangerous. That’s why finding information you can trust is so important.

When you’re looking for accurate information that is easy to digest, cars.com is a great resource. It provides clear and concise information that will help you find the best choice when it comes to deciding on the safest car for your family.

Searching the site is easy; just choose the make, model, and year you’re interested in from the drop down menu. You’ll immediately see how well it ranked from customer reviews, based on a best 5-star rating system. From there you can read up on all the specs of the vehicle as well as reviews from people who have bought and used it. For many people in the market to buy a car, reviews are key. They rely on hearing the honest opinions of people who have hands-on experience with the vehicle, not just information from someone trying to sell a car.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a couple of cars you have decided rank best for safety, it’s time to see how much it’s going to cost you. Budgeting is a big part of family life for any mother, so breaking down the dollars and cents is just common sense, don’t you agree? You can estimate your payments to see if the car you want is affordable. If it is, then great! If not, you can go back and research as many vehicles as you wish until you find the right fit for your family’s safety and your wallet. Finding a new car has never been so easy thanks to cars.com!

Our First Summer Camp Experience

I’ll admit, I was never a big fan of summer camps. I didn’t go to one as a kid because my grandmother watched me while my parents worked. As a parent myself, I’ve always been around during the summer so I didn’t necessarily need a camp for childcare. I work from home, so in the summer I can usually manage things enough to get my jobs done…usually. My solution is waiting for my kids to go to sleep to get things done, kind of like right now as I’m writing this.

But, this summer, a one-week soccer camp peaked our interest. Well, really my interest and that of my 5-year-old. My 7-year-old wanted no part of it. She was “Camp Mom” all the way and let everyone know it. But, I could tell the idea intrigued my little one because she truly loves the game. Quite frankly, she’s pretty darn good at it for a 5-year-old. But, she wanted her big sister to go along with her. I could tell that wasn’t going to happen.

I sat on the whole camp idea the weeks leading up to the registration. When it came down to saving a few bucks to register early, I needed a final answer. Momma doesn’t play around when there’s money to be saved! My older daughter still wasn’t budging, but my little soccer beast was all in! I was also curious to know more about this camp thing that everyone raves about all the time.

It was all soccer goals and smiles until the first morning. The idea of getting up like it was a school day was anything less than exciting. The fact that it was only for five mornings was my biggest motivator. During the drive there, I could smell hesitation in the air when my little asked her sister if she was sure she didn’t want to come. After a definite “no”, my little knew she was on her own. When we got there she didn’t leave my side for the first few minutes but when I told her I couldn’t stay and would be back in three short hours, she ran off and started to play with the familiar faces she saw.

When those three short hours were over (and I mean short, there’s no way you can get anything done in that time) she as all smiles at pick-up time. During the drive home when I asked her what she did, she gave me a complete rundown of all the skills she learned and the scrimmage that was played. It felt like a win-win all around until she admitted she cried. When she told me it was because she missed me, my heart sank. Did I do the right thing sending her? Should I have kept her home? As much as I felt like the world’s worst mom, I got over it quick! I knew deep down that this was good for her. Besides learning soccer skills, she was also learning how to manage on her own without relying on her big sister. Did I mention the fact that she was pooped everyday and slept like a rock star each night?

As the week progressed, the wake-ups didn’t get any easier, but the drop-offs and pick-ups did. She was having fun and learning new things and meeting new kids. I guess that’s what this camp thing is all about, right? As much as I was a camp skeptic, I can see now why so many kids and parents love it. It sure does keep the kids busy and is a lifesaver during the summer for many working parents.

Who knows, in the future we may trying out different summer camps, but for now it’s still “Camp Mom” for most of the time, and truthfully I’m okay with that!

End of the School Year Checklist for Moms

It’s the end of the school year. You knew it was coming sooner or later. Whether you’re getting ready to send your kids off to camp or preparing “Camp Mom” for the troops there are a few things that need to get done before summer vacation kicks in.

  • End of the Year Teacher Gifts. You may look forward to this as much as teachers look forward to expanding their “best teacher” mug collection. I’ll admit I’ve given a few mugs in my day…and candles, and lotions, and coffee gift cards. It gets boring. As much as every ounce of creativity may have been sucked out of you by all of the projects you’ve helped your kids with this year, try to at least put in a “C” effort for the teacher’s gift. They deserve it for all they put up with through the year. I’ve actually come up with a semi-creative idea that I’m excited about. I’ll share it with you…after I give it!
  • Plan to Keep in Touch with Your Kids’ School Friends…Some of Them. My daughter’s birthday is in the summer. She wants me to start planning her birthday party now so that she can hand out invitations the last day of school. She must have used too many glue sticks this year if she thinks that’s going to happen. I explained to her that’s the joy of having a summer birthday. You don’t have to invite the whole class. That rule goes out the window once the end of June rolls around. I did tell her to get the info of a couple of friends she’d like to invite. We’ll see how that goes. If there are friends your kids want to hang out with over the summer (that you approve of) make an effort to get their info. You never know when you may need to phone a friend.
  • Check out Free Events. If it’s free, it’s for me. That’s my motto. Check out what free events are available for the summer. Many local libraries offer free passes to museums and zoos. Take advantage of these. Make a list and take it out for those days when you hear “Mom, I’m bored”, because you know they’re coming.
  • Pre-summer Cleaning. If you didn’t get around to actual spring cleaning (like me), try some pre-summer cleaning. It’s really the same thing if you think about it. With the kids home, you know your house is going to look like a bomb exploded all summer long. The chances of you giving it a deep clean when the kids are around 24/7 are about as good as you getting front row tickets at a Bon Jovi concert. So clean now, have fun later.
  • Make Your Last Solo Target Run. Moms you know what I’m talking about. Shopping alone at Target has a certain charm to it that you can’t explain unless you’re a mom who’s had to shop at Target with your kids. Those $1 bins turn into $5 bins when you take your kids. It’s inevitable. But, when you shop alone you can look around at all the stuff you really don’t need but end up buying anyway for some reason. It’s a beautiful thing.
  • Pencil in Some Me Time. Let’s face it, summer is wonderful but finding time just for yourself without having the kids around can be a challenge. Before the final school bell rings, try to schedule a mani/pedi or whatever you like to relax. This will help set the tone for the summer. If you can’t tell, this is definitely on my “to-do” list over the next week and a half. That and maybe a massage! If you really want to go crazy, take yourself shopping too! You needed a new pair of sandals, right?
  • Make a Liquor Store Run. Yep, I said it. There are only so many amusement parks, zoos, and playdates you can take over the summer. Momma will need a break so plan ahead. Once the kids finally conk out for the night, you may want to treat yourself to a nice glass of wine. Better yet, send the kids off to grandma’s house and have some friends over for grown-up beverages!

Amid all the camps, playdates, and cotton candy induced carnivals, try to have fun with your kids this summer. As much as we may complain about our kids, we all know they grow up too fast!

Finding Gratitude & Positivity in Pork Chops

“I can’t.”

When I hear my girls say this, my heart immediately sinks and I respond, “Yes, you can.”

Usually this is followed by another attempt to do something that “couldn’t” be done minutes ago. Some attempts are more successful than others, but many times the thing that couldn’t be accomplished is.

Is it a miracle?

No, I don’t think so.

I think it has to do with positive thinking. If you think you can’t do something then you won’t even if you are truly capable. Why? I like to think it’s because you’re thinking negatively and that only attracts negative thoughts and actions. It’s like a case of bad vibes. If someone gives you a bad vibe, there is nothing good that’s going to come out of a situation.

Here’s a fun fact about me…I read a lot of books about the power of positivity and the laws of attraction. While some people may think they’re nonsense, I truly believe in their message. I think there is some validity in the fact that positivity nets positivity. That’s why I try to teach my girls to think positively, even in the most negative situations.

A big slice of the positivity pie is gratefulness. If you count your blessings and are grateful, those positive thoughts will bring more good things. That’s one of the reasons I have my girls say their prayers at night. Even when they’re thankful for something as small as the yummy pork chops I made for dinner, the fact that they’re grateful for something is what’s important. They’re not only learning to be thankful for the little things, but are also sending out positive vibes. Hopefully those positive vibes will make their way back into their little lives.

After my kids say their prayers, I say mine too so they can hear what I’m grateful for. Sometimes mine are “silly” like being thankful that I survived my boot camp class without collapsing. I get a few giggles and smiles. The point is that my kids are seeing me express gratitude as well. It really is a fact of “practice what you preach”. I think it would be unfair of me to expect them to express what they’re thankful for each night while I “peace out” and just say good night. It’s all part of teaching them to be positive.

Trust me, everything is not rainbows and unicorns at my house. There are plenty of rain clouds. There’s yelling and crying just like at everyone else’s house. But, I hope the seeds of positivity and gratitude over shadow all of that. I hope in the end my girls realize there’s no such thing as “I can’t”. There’s always “I’ll try”. There’s no such thing as finding nothing to be grateful for because we know there’s always something. You can find gratitude and positivity,  even if it is in pork chops.

Get a New Look with Divatress #ad #spon

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

We’ve all been there…those times when we’ve had a bad hair day. How about the times when we’ve gotten a haircut that didn’t turn out the way we thought and now we need to find a quick fix? What about the days when we just want a different look? How about those days when you want to unleash your inner diva? These are the most fun!

That’s where Divatress comes in.  Whatever the situation, Divatress has a variety of sensationnel human hair that will leave you feeling beautiful. Whether it’s a full wig with curls or a cute, short pixie cut, you can transform yourself into whoever you like with products from Divatress.

courtesy: divatress.com

Sometimes we all want a little hair flair. If that’s the case, then a braid or a ponytail extension may be the answer for you. Choose from a wide selection to accentuate your style. All hair products come in a variety of colors and textures. Experiment with a new color or be a diva and try out several!

Whether it’s a full wig, extension, or even a weave, you can count on Divatress to deliver high quality hair care products right to your door step. Don’t keep that inner diva hiding for one more second!

Everyday is Mother’s Day…Okay 5 out of 7

Sunday is Mother’s Day.

Yeah.

Sorry for my lack of enthusiasm but there is so much energy and commercialism put into the second Sunday of May each and every year that I lose my excitement. It’s not because I don’t think mothers should be recognized and showered with gifts, because I do. I am a mom, remember? But, I always hate to get things and have people be nice to me because that’s what the calendar tells them. It takes the sincerity out of it if you know what I mean.

If Mother’s Day means getting showered with gifts and your kids telling you how much they love you, then everyday is Mother’s Day for me. Okay, maybe not everyday, but a good 5 out of 7. Before you think my family buys me gifts everyday, you are sadly mistaken. But, my kids do make me funny pictures and give me pennies and say, “this is for you, you deserve it.” Heck, I’ll take it!

I love when my kids tell me they love me just because they feel like saying it. It’s those times when they aren’t just saying it because they want something. They aren’t trying to make up for pinching each other for the tenth time in an hour. It is truly heartfelt. For some reason an emotion inside of them makes them feel as though they want to tell me that they love me at that moment. That makes it Mother’s Day for me, even if it is a bitter cold day in February when it happens.

While getting Hallmark cards written by someone who has never met me is a special kind of special, the cards and pictures my  kids make would put Hallmark out of business. The misspelled words and pictures of little figures with whacked out hair that are supposed to represent us are priceless. The dozens of pieces of paper they steal from my printer to make signs that say “I love you” make it Mother’s Day everyday…oh wait, 5 out of 7 days.

I can’t forget those nights when I’m awoken from the deepest of sleeps and dreams of being on stage with Jon Bon Jovi, only to hear a little voice call “Mommy…Mom..eee.” When I go in the room and ask what’s wrong and that tiny voice answers, “nothing, I just want to snuggle with you”, makes it Mother’s Day at 3a.m. no matter what day it is.

Those other 2 out of 7 days when motherhood is an ugly beast can truly be unbearable. Luckily the other 5 make up for it.

While Mother’s Day is a nice thought on paper, I’ll take my Mother’s Days over it anytime. Give me some homemade cards, some heartfelt “I love you’s”, a few pennies found around the house, and a call to snuggle at 3a.m. and I’m good. That’s a real Mother’s Day…oh and maybe some cake, you can never go wrong with cake!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there…here’s hoping everyday is Mother’s Day for you too…pennies and all!

 

The Woman, The Myth, The Legend…The Tooth Fairy

Out of all the mythical creatures out there, the Tooth Fairy is one that completely baffles me. It also blows my mind that kids actually buy it time and time again.

Think about it, we get our kids all psyched up to lose their teeth to get a reward. Okay, I can buy that. But then, we tell them that this person called The Tooth Fairy is going to magically break into their house at night, which is totally fine, know exactly where their room is and exchange a tooth hiding under their pillow for money (usually). Then the tooth fairy magically disappears until the next time a tooth falls out.

What does she do with all of those teeth? Is she part of some strange teeth collecting cult? Is she a frustrated dentist? What about the money she leaves? Where did she get it? Inquiring moms want to know!

Thank goodness many kids just take the Tooth Fairy at face value and don’t want to interrogate her like I do. All of my curiosity got me to do some digging…okay actually some googling.

There are so many different reference points but the consensus seems to be that the concept of the Tooth Fairy originated in early Europe where it was a tradition to bury kids’ teeth when they fell out. From there, it gets a little fuzzy as to how the Tooth Fairy was born.

The earliest mention of the Tooth Fairy as we know her (or him, depending on what you believe) dates back to 1908. That’s when an article in the “Chicago Daily Tribune” mentioned that mothers should buy something at the five cent store to replace a child’s tooth that’s left under the pillow. Some say from there, kids started asking where their teeth went and stories of the mythical creature were created.

Fast forward to 2017 where the Tooth Fairy is still alive and well, at least in my house. My 7-year-old sometimes asks how she gets in. I tell her it’s magic and she still believes.

It always boggles my mind how we can be so hypocritical as parents to get our kids to believe in something. We teach our kids all about stranger danger, yet we tell them that it’s perfectly fine that some lady with wings come into the house every now and again to steal their teeth. But she leaves cash, so it’s cool. Then we tell them it’s okay to ring doorbells of people we don’t know and to accept treats at Halloween. Don’t forget the gran daddy of them all…it’s okay to sit on an old guy’s lap and tell him what you want for Christmas. Just like the Tooth Fairy he’ll break into your house. He won’t take anything though; he just leaves you what you asked for.

Ahh…the joys of parenting! But it comes with the territory.

If you sometimes put your fairy wings on to transform into your Tooth Fairy alter ego, what do you do with all the teeth?  While I don’t bury my kids’ teeth like they did back in the day. I do keep them. Is that weird? I have little baggies of teeth. So far there are seven. I feel bad throwing them away for some reason. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with them. I’ll probably show them to my kids one day once the mystery is revealed. Maybe we’ll make some strange art deco collage out of teeth, who knows?

For now, I’ll continue to tip toe in the darkest of night, cash in hand, and swipe teeth like a ninja in hopes my daughter doesn’t wake up. I’ll add to my strange teeth collection and pray the kids don’t find it. I don’t know how I would talk myself out of that one! Viva La Tooth Fairy…the woman, the myth, the legend!

 

 

 

To Bunny or Not to Bunny? That is the Question.

The Easter Bunny.

It’s the tooth fairy’s second cousin and Santa’s third cousin, twice removed on his mother’s side.

Although they play the same game, there’s just something about the Easter Bunny that doesn’t sell well. Santa brings the magic of Christmas with reindeer and elves. The tooth fairy has a mystical quality about her, flying through the night, collecting random teeth and leaving money. Did anyone ever ask her where she got her money to hand out or what she does with those teeth? Hmmm…inquiring moms want to know.

Then there’s the Easter Bunny. He apparently has time to hop around to all the houses the night before Easter, eat a bunch of carrots, and leave baskets filled with toys made in China for kids everywhere. Oh, and don’t forget all the candy that will have your kids in a sugar coma by breakfast. How does he carry all of those baskets by himself without any elves or a sled? Although he must log some major steps on his fit bit, it’s hard even for a kid to believe.

When my kids were born and throughout their toddler time, we put on our bunny ears like any other good parents and did the bunny thing. We went to see the freaky person dressed in a bunny costume at the mall, put the carrots and water out the night before, and carried out the basket tradition Easter morning. I also did a little hunt, hiding small things around the house like my mom did for me Easter morning.

Now that my kids are 5 & 7, I’m wondering how much longer I can carry on this bunny charade. We did go to see the Easter bunny at the mall this year, only for my kids to tell me, “You know mom, that’s someone dressed in a costume.” Of course I know that silly rabbits, but Easter is still for kids…so hop to it and take a picture with the bunny. That wasn’t so hard of a sell, but as I was shopping for basket fillers this year, I was coming up with bunny block after bunny block. A lot of the things I used to put in their baskets felt babyish this year. The things I  really wanted to buy would raise too much suspicion and might blow the bunny’s cover. The Easter Bunny can’t give a gift card and some candy and call it a day. I know my kids will ask how the Easter Bunny hitched a ride to Barnes & Noble to get them a gift card. I don’t think they’d buy it if I told them there was a gift card kiosk at the CVS in bunny land. All of this got me thinking, do I do the bunny thing this year or pull the ears off of this charade?

I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to rip off the bunny ears for them. I want them to continue to slowly figure it out, one whisker at a time. So, I put my ears back on, grabbed a carrot, and found two pre-made baskets that were do-able for their age groups. I just need to take off the WalMart tag. If I don’t, my kids will ask me how the bunny got to WalMart. I could tell them Santa took him, but that wouldn’t solve anything.

So, it’s full-on bunny this year. Next year, who knows? We’ll just take it one hop at a time.

Everyone Loves a Fairy Tale Ending

Over the past weekend, we took the girls to see “Beauty and the Beast”. They were driving us nuts to go see it at the theater even though I warned them it was a two-hour movie. Honestly I didn’t know if I could handle sitting there for two hours with them. I was leaning towards waiting until it appeared in the Redbox, but, like good parents, we took them.

The packed audience included moms and dads, like us, with their kids. But that wasn’t all.

What I didn’t expect to see were people, young and old, without any kids. I questioned why they would want to see a “kid movie” if they didn’t have to? After the movie started, I began to see why. It’s not a “kid movie” by popular definition. Not at all.

Not only were the acting, music and costumes incredible, but the story itself is one I think everyone longs for deep down…a love story with a fairy tale ending.

Think about it. Everywhere we look there seems to be negativity. Whether it’s on the news or in our daily lives, it seems everyone has issues. It can be a real soul drainer. In real life, we hardly ever get a fairy tale ending. But, in the movies the possibility exists. For two hours we can escape and get sucked into a story and a world that has a fairy tale ending.  I did. I honestly would not have been aware of the length of the movie if one of my kids didn’t ask me when it was going to be over. I was so invested in the story. Ironically, I ended up enjoying it more than they did. My husband even admitted he liked it. Go figure!

As much as we would like, we can’t always create an imaginary world with a fairy tale ending, like our children. So, as I looked around the audience during “Beauty and the Beast” I couldn’t help but think and even hope that everyone was there because we all love that fairy tale ending.