Family * Travel * Food

Getting Ready For Graduation Season With Basic Invite

It is so hard to believe that we will soon enter the month of April. I mean really, where did the time go? We just celebrated our son's 13th birthday and are still working through our feelings on that one! In just another couple months, our younger daughter will hit another big milestone in her life. She will be walking across the stage to accept her diploma for her grad school program. And guess what? Later this year in December, my older daughter will be doing the very same thing herself! It's unreal thinking about having two of your children completing grad school and moving into the next stages of their adult lives. 

Today's conversation is sponsored by Basic Invite

We have such big milestones to start planning for and celebrating. Like us, many families are getting ready to have new graduates in their household whether it's high school or college. While graduations might be a little different this time around, the celebrations will still go on. Both of my daughters have been trying to find the right photographer to capture images so they can make graduation invitations and announcements.  We have spoken to other families who are planning to opt out of a large party, and are choosing a small dinner at a local restaurant. This is definitely the route that we are taking given the current climate around the world. 

I have been browsing Basic Invite to check out their selection of personalized graduation invites. One great feature that they offer is almost unlimited colors with instant previews online. Once you select a design, you can change the color of each element on the card. With over 180 colors to choose from, the invite is sure to be exactly how you want it! This is what sets Basic Invite apart from almost any other online stationery company. You can also request custom samples to make sure you are happy with the paper quality and colors before you are ready to have your final order printed. 

Basic Invite has over 40 different envelope colors to choose from. That's a lot compared to most places that tend to only offer white. All of the envelopes are peel and seal so they can be closed quickly and securely. They also offer an address capturing service that allows customers to share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media to request their friends and family’s addresses. The addresses are stored in the customer’s account and can be selected during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all card orders. A great place to start is with their open house invitation templates

Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51 

If you are planning graduation festivities, a baby shower, birthday party or wedding, be sure to keep Basic Invite in mind for your custom invitations and announcements. I better get on the ball right now since there is still time! Thank you for stopping by today. 

5 Crucial Things to Include on Your Party Planning List

Invitations, check. Drinks, check. Décor, check. Now what else do you need to host an awesome party? As fun as celebrations can be, they’re also a lot of pressure on the people who are going to be hosting them. You’ve got a lot to remember before the big day and various important aspects to organize, so it’s easy for something to slip through the crack.

If you want to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch, then you might consider using a party planning checklist to guide you. We’re going to help you out with avoiding catastrophes by reminding you of some of the things you need to include on that list. 

1. The Date and Time
Choosing the right date and time is one of the most important parts of planning a successful party. You need to pick a day that’s suitable for the guest of honor at your party, but it’s also worth thinking about the other people who are going to be attending too. For instance, do you need to choose a weekend so most of the visitors aren’t going to be at work?

If you’ve got a close-knit group of friends and relatives it might be helpful to check that the date you choose doesn’t clash with any events or significant holidays around the same time too. You don’t want people to have to choose which party to go to. 

2. The Venue
Where is your party going to be? Are you having a quiet get-together at home, or hosting a wine tasting event at your local bar? Do you need to go and hire a specific location, and how will the people attending your party be able to get there? Are there going to be parking spots nearby?

There are various aspects to the venue that you need to be aware of when you’re making the right choice. For instance, think about how many people this location can hold, and how big the celebration is going to be. It’s also worth checking whether you can decorate the venue yourself, or whether they’ll help you out and do that for you. What are the rules about music and curfews, and can the venue sell alcohol to your guests?

3. Booking the Professionals
Depending on the kind of party you’re hosting, you might need to get some professionals involved to help you out. For instance, if it’s a big event, you might want an entertainer to keep the kids and your guests happy. You might hire a magician, for instance, or a local band to play some music. On the other hand, you might just opt for a DJ to mix some tracks for you on the day. 

Other professionals might include caterers that you need to hire to help you out with feeding everyone who’s coming to your party. You might be able to do some of the cooking and prep at home if you’re not catering for too many people. However, bigger events often require some help. 

4. The Gift Situation
Presents are a common part of a great party situation, but there are sometimes rules to consider on the gifts that you’re going to give. Are you going to have a gift exchange where everyone can share presents as part of the party experience, or do you need a table where people can pile the gifts that they’ve brought for the person that you’re celebrating – for them to open later. If you’re all going to be exchanging gifts, do you want to stick to a specific budget or theme?

Depending on the nature of the party, it can be helpful to include some extra details about gifts on the invitation, so people know what to expect, and how to plan. For instance, for some parties, you might ask that people send the gifts straight to the person’s home, rather than bringing them to the venue. 

5. The Must-Haves
Finally, create a small list of absolutely essential things that you really need to prioritize above anything else. These are the things that you want to spend extra time and attention on, because if everything else goes wrong, you know they’re going to save the party. 

The must-haves on your party planning list will depend on the nature of the party, and what you consider to be important. For some people, the right music will be crucial, whereas for others it’s all about the catering. Bring this part of your checklist to the top, and get help making sure that everything you need is available. 

6 Tips to Help You Start Your Owning Catering Business

Starting your own catering business can be a great choice that can help you be on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur. On top of this, you get the opportunity to work from home and establish an outstanding work-life balance.

In this article, we are going to talk about six tips to help you get started! Sound interesting? Then keep on reading!

Choose a catering style
The very first step in starting a catering company is to choose a particular style. For example, you might think about focusing on business events, weddings, or funeral wakes. You also can decide what style of food you will be making. While some caterers offer both sweet and savory options, others offer grazing platters or desserts only.

Design a menu
Once you’ve got an idea of what type of catering services you will be offering, you can then move on to designing a menu. This is the tricky part, as you want to be able to serve great food, easily and quickly. You have to remember that you will be serving multiple guests, so you need to be able to do most of the preparation in advance. Check out these tips for planning a menu for more inspiration and advice.

Sort out the paperwork 
Just like any other business, there is always going to be paperwork to sort out before you can operate. Permits, licenses, and tax forms all need to be completed before you can start serving your clients. It may be irritating, but it’s better to get it sorted out first to avoid issues further on down the track.

Source your ingredients
Once you’ve got a menu established, you can also start sourcing your ingredients. In order to save money, try shopping at local markets. You might even look at finding a distributor. You can get chicken meat by and even find fresh fruit and veg wholesalers to make your overall ingredient costs much more affordable.

Purchase the necessary equipment 
Just like the ingredients, there is also going to be equipment that you need before starting your catering business. You will need to invest in catering delivery bags to transport food. From platters, cooking gadgets, and cutlery, there is certainly a lot to think about. Try searching for items that you can buy in bulk, and don’t forget to check out garage sales and thrift stores. You never know what you might find!

Lastly, once all that is in order, you can now move on to advertising your business! Get creative with different methods, such as social media, print, and radio advertising. There are many different options, but make sure you stick to a budget so that you don’t go overboard. Check out these inexpensive ways to advertise your small business if you are a bit strapped for cash!

And that’s it! These were six different tips to start your own catering business. You’ll have everything ready in no time and be on your way to establishing a successful company out of your own home. Good luck!


4 Finger Food Ideas for Parties and Fussy Eaters

Hosting a great party can be lots of fun and very rewarding, but it can take a lot of hard work too. One of the keys to a successful party is to have high-quality food available, and that means food which looks good and tastes even better. You can't cook while the party is in full swing, so finger food is the perfect solution as you can prepare it well in advance. When creating finger food, it's important to think of all the guests, including fussy eaters, but here are four finger food ideas which are sure to prove a hit with guests young and old.

1. Cucumber Sandwiches

This may sound too simple, but in fact, they're also simply delicious, which is why cucumber sandwiches are still a staple part of a traditional afternoon tea. Simply cut up cucumbers and place between some high-quality bread. We recommend the use of the best wooden cutting boards for all food preparation purposes, as you can quickly wipe them down and they make chopping, cutting and slicing a quick and easy process. Cucumber sandwiches are great for cleansing the palate after spicy food as well, and they're vegan-friendly which can be an important consideration.

2. Sticky Chicken Wings

Sticky food is always a popular choice for a finger food buffet, as it's always satisfying to lick your own fingers clean afterward. Sticky chicken wings are a perfect choice for this purpose, and they're incredibly easy to prepare. One marinade that even the fussiest eater will appreciate is honey and soy sauce. Simply mix these two ingredients together in a bowl so that it forms a clear yet dark-colored liquid and then coat the wings in it before transferring to the oven or frying pan. Ten minutes is all it takes to create a snack that's delicious and full of flavor.

3. Avocado Toast

Avocado is possibly the most fashionable ingredient of them all at the moment, and it's perfectly suited to a finger food environment. It has the added advantage of being supremely tasty too, which is why avocado toast is always the sign of a high-quality buffet. Presentation is the key here, so cut slices of toast into alluring triangles, before spreading mashed avocado onto the surface. To add an extra texture and flavor, you can then further top the toast with a slice of boiled egg; quail's egg is a great option here if you're really trying to impress your guests, but a standard hen's egg will be fine as long as the portion size fits daintily atop the avocado.

4. Lettuce Wrapped Steak

Steak and salad are a classic mealtime combination, but this can easily be adapted for finger food purposes with individual steak slices wrapped inside a lettuce leaf. Simply fry or grill the steak until cooked (be careful not to overcook it or it can become tough), slice into small pieces and then place one piece inside the cupped leaf of a baby gem lettuce. You can serve a mayo or chili sauce to accompany it. This is finger food that looks superbly inviting, it tastes great and the lettuce and steak slice combined with crunchy lettuce gives a satisfying textural contrast as well. Be sure to prepare plenty of these, because they always prove to be the most popular item in a buffet.

Steak wrapped in lettuce, avocado toast, cucumber sandwiches, and marinated chicken wings all look as good as they taste, and there's nothing in them that will make a fussy eater turn up their nose. Remember to prepare more food than you think you'll need rather than taking the risk of running out and always have vegetarian and vegan options available, as well as suitable desserts. It's a good idea to check for special dietary requirements beforehand, such as gluten intolerance, so that you can plan the buffet accordingly. With all this in place, you'll have happy guests and you'll be a happy host.

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Great Ideas for Your Child’s Next Birthday Party

Thinking of ideas for your child’s next birthday party isn’t always easy, especially if they aren’t sure what they want either. As your child grows up, they will move away from the usual fun games and cake to more interesting parties like a soft play area. However, when you have used all of those ideas, what else can you try? Here are some ideas that might be able to help you.
Photo by Jennie Brown on Unsplash

Listen to Your Child’s Interests
If you are stuck for ideas, sometimes the best solution is to try talking about their interests. Although you might think you know what they like, this might not be the case. You can then take those interests and use them as a theme for a party. You are also almost certain that their friends are interested in the same things. If you are planning a surprise birthday party, then it might be a good idea to speak to your child’s friends. They may have a greater idea if they will like it or not.

Glow in The Dark Party
A party like this is especially good around Halloween as it makes a great nighttime event. You can have everything glow in the dark from face paints to neon clothing. You can also hire or buy an ultraviolet light to make the neon and white stand out. There is also a great recipe for glow in the dark play dough that the kids will have great fun making.

Indoor Drive-In Movie Theater
For the younger children, this idea will be sure to keep them entertained, especially if you put on their favorite movie. All you need are some cardboard boxes and stick on a paper plate steering wheel and wheels You can then line them up in rows and let them watch their movie in comfort. You can even give them their snacks there as they are unlikely to want to get out.

Adventure Days
There are many adventure days set up around the country; they offer several activities including a high zip wire and climbing frames. If you are looking for something involving more puzzle solving, then there are also places like the Atlanta Escape Room. They offer the opportunity to get trapped in a room that you then have to work your way out of by solving clues. These adventure activities are great for older kids, especially those that love the outdoors.

Pool Party
Pool parties are a great way to have a summer birthday party, but the weather doesn’t have to stop you. If it’s raining outside, then you can still hire your local pool complex for an hour or so and invite all their friends. Some pool complexes have inflatables that they will let you use, as well as flumes or water slides. It is a good idea to ensure that all those attending can swim before you book.

These ideas are just a few of the many you can try if you think a little outside the box. The main part of any party, however, is to have fun.

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How To Make The Perfect Margarita

Hello, April! It's that beautiful time of year where we get to see the changes of spring take place. I spent the weekend outdoors with my family planting flowers, weeding garden beds, re-potting plants, and doing our big annual clean-up. The warmer temperatures and longer hours of sunlight have gotten me excited for the warmer months. 

One of our favorite beverages year 'round is a good old-fashioned homemade margarita. We do not like those pre-made mixers at all. If you are looking for a very good margarita recipe (with a little bit of kick) you are in the right place. My neighbor shared this recipe with me a while back that she got from our other neighbor. It's so good and we make it all the time! The great part if you do not need any fancy bar equipment or even formal glassware for serving. This recipe is perfect for girls' trips, girls' night in, or parties. 

How to make the perfect Margarita


2 cups of good white tequila (we use Jose Cuervo)
2 cups of triple sec
2 cups of fresh or bottled lime juice (we use this one
2 cups *sugar plus 2 cups water to make a simple syrup


The first step is to make your simple syrup. The key is to fully dissolve the sugar into the water. It's best to chill simple syrup before adding to the other ingredients. Stir all ingredients in a pitcher and serve over plenty of ice. If you prefer frozen margaritas, you can blend with ice. It's delicious either way. 

*I use a little less sugar because I don't like my drinks too sweet. You can adjust to your taste. 


I serve mine on the rocks with a simple wedge of lime. You can use margarita glasses with salted or sugared rims. I will be experimenting with strawberry, mango, and raspberry purees to make some exciting flavors. If you want, you can make half the recipe or even double it.

If you have been on the hunt for a good margarita recipe, you will love this one. Let me know if you decide to give it a try. Thanks for stopping by today.

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How To Throw An Amazing Kids Birthday Party

Even if your little ones are usually total angels, if their birthday party doesn’t go to plan you soon could have some tiny devils on your hands. Planning the perfect birthday party for your child can soon turn into an incredibly stressful event. Not only do you have to keep your children’s requests in mind, but also organizing entertainers, catering and gifts can soon turn into an expensive and stressful exercise. With so much to order, it’s no wonder that Moms feel overwhelmed before they’ve even picked up the phone. However, there’s no reason why you can’t have some fun too! Check out these tips to throw an amazing kids birthday party.
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Be sure to get your party invites out several weeks before your child’s birthday – kids have a hectic social schedule too! Kids are easy to please and will be happy with either a large party or a small gathering of just family and close friends. You could also consider hiring a party planner to help design and issue invites if time is a little tight.

This is where the fun truly starts, plus it encourages you and your kids to work together to deliver a memorable and magical birthday theme. From aliens to cowboys and Indians, or princesses and mermaids, make sure that you discuss any potential themes with the birthday boy or girl first. If you are on a tight budget, then why not get your kids involved in making homemade decorations and props to turn your living room into the surface of the moon or the bottom of the ocean? Check out your local dollar store and charity stores to pick up props and arts and crafts materials that won’t break the bank.
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Fun Food
When it comes to catering for your child’s birthday, keep it simple and colorful. Try chips and dips with some vegetable crudités. You could also create some mini hot dogs or hamburgers with homemade sides, to cut down on salt and sugar. Kids aren’t fussy when it comes to food. Just make sure that you don’t put out too much candy if you want to keep the day under control!

Remember that any entertainment has to match your theme. From a home screening of their favorite movie to getting a professional entertainer to visit your home, the entertainment can be as lavish or extravagant as your budget. Party games cost nothing and are a great way to tire out energetic little people.

Remembering a special day
The candles and cake are long gone, so how do you remember your child’s special day? Consider using a birthday collage maker to turn all those happy memories into a work of art. This is a great way to keep the day alive for many years to come.

Once you’ve planned the day, sent out the invites, sorted your theme and arranged the food make sure that you enjoy the party too! No one likes a stressed host, so be sure to remain calm and relaxed and enjoy the birthday mood.

Celebrate Your Graduate Safely: Tips on Hosting a Foodborne Illness-Free Party

The final exams are taken, the diploma is framed and the cap is thrown in the air. Now it’s time to celebrate your graduate’s latest major life milestone! For those hosting large parties, preparing large amounts of food for friends and family is hard enough but ensuring food is safe and pathogen free can be downright stressful.

"Hosting parties take a great deal of work and we often focus so much on preparing and serving food in a timely fashion that we don’t think about preparing and serving food safely," says Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness , a national, nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens. To help ensure you are serving food that won’t spread foodborne illness, Stop has put together a list of food safety tips to help party hosts put out their best and safest food when celebrating their graduates.

For hosting a party, Stop Foodborne Illness suggests:

  • Have a plan! Cooking such an important meal for a large gathering of friends and family can be stressful and lead to subpar approaches to handling food. Think about your refrigerator, freezer and oven space, and how you'll manage to keep hot foods at 140 degrees or higher and cold foods at 40 degrees or below. If you need to use coolers, make sure you have plenty of clean ice. Whatever you do, don’t rely on the natural outdoor or indoor temperatures to keep foods at proper temperature!
  • Wash your hands. When preparing food, Stop Foodborne Illness emphasizes the importance of washing your hands thoroughly and keeping all surfaces you’re working on clean.
  • Wash produce. Stop Foodborne Illness recommends washing even prepackaged greens, to minimize potential bacterial contamination.
  • Keep cooking surfaces clean and sanitized. Preparing raw meat and poultry on the same surfaces as food that does not get cooked could lead to cross-contamination. Make sure kitchen counters, sponges, cutting boards, and knives are all well-scrubbed.
  • Defrost Safely. Properly defrost meat by allocating 24 hours per 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator. If you need to defrost quicker, place the meat a large bowl filled with cold water and change the cold water bath every 30 minutes.
  • Cook to proper temperature. And use a thermometer to ensure food has been cooked enough to kill bacteria. Find out more with this safe food temperature guide.
  • Food brought by party guests. While help is always appreciated, remind guests to transport cold foods in a cooler below 40 F and bring hot foods in an insulated carrier to ensure the temperature stays at or above 140 F. Prepared foods must be refrigerated or thrown out after two hours.
  • Refrigerate leftovers. Many people don’t think twice about leaving food out on the counter all day. Two hours is the limit. Allowing food to sit out longer is one of the easiest food safety mistakes to make since food left in the danger zone—above 40 degrees and below 140 degrees–facilitates bacterial growth. To avoid this, Stop recommends storing leftovers in 2-inch deep, shallow containers within two hours of serving.

Remember, practicing safe cooking procedures is not just for the host. For those attending graduation parties as guests, bring dishes, not pathogens. Here are a few things guests can do to help prevent the spread of foodborne illness:

  • Wash your hands. Even if you don’t prepare food you should still wash your hands before you eat.
  • Pack hot foods while hot. If you’re preparing a hot dish at home and bringing it to the party, pack it right away! Don’t wait for hot foods to cool down before packing. If you reheat at the party, remember to check the temperature with a thermometer.

About Stop Foodborne Illness
Stop Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by advocating for sound public policies, building public awareness and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness. For more food safety tips please visit If you think you have been sickened from food , contact your local health professional. You may subscribe to receive Stop Foodborne Illness e-Alerts and eNews here: and follow their news at their newsroom here:

Raleigh Catering Company

Since catering has become a real trend nowadays, it was impossible for the Raleigh community not to benefit from such a service. Many people have tried for years the services provided by the Raleigh Catering Company and they ended up with beautiful events, enjoying them while being more relaxed.

This company has been offering their services to this area for many years now, having a friendly attitude and having a large array of courses and dishes, suitable for any kind of occasion and event that you might have. They take pride in having a personal connection with their customers, which is easy to understand, since most of the events a catering company needs to take care of have a personal character.

As it is ideal, the chefs and the personnel are highly trained professionals that know everything that is necessary in several types of techniques and various cuisines around the world. Besides offering a standard menu, they can also provide signature dishes created especially for a particular event, which is extremely useful if you need to host a fine dining event with high class guests. Their large experience is not just a thing they brag with, but it is very useful when you count on people to help with your event.

The quality of the ingredients is also extremely important. There have been cases with some companies that used bad quality ingredients and the result, of course, is not that delicious. For this reason it is important to provide fresh and pure vegetables and meat. Moreover, besides the quality, the Raleigh catering service offers a large and varied array of dishes. For people who want to host a different event, communities of expats or people of different origins, this matters a lot, since they can enjoy their traditional dishes by simply calling a catering company, instead of cooking for hours and hours in a row.

Prompt service and competitive prices are all the more reasons for which people choose to use the services provided by this catering company. Of course, a slow service is just as important as the ingredients, the type of dishes and the price, which should convince you to double-check before trusting someone with the success of your own event.

The staff here can even help you with part of the planning, and the advice of a professional is literally priceless, especially when you have tons of other things to take care of. Furthermore, it is really easy to find the company online and give them a call and it is advisable to do this as soon as possible, to make sure everything is ready in time.

Big Accomplishments In The Ismail Household

December has been the busiest month for our family and it has nothing to do with the holiday season. Both my older daughter Chardonnay and my husband Dwayne graduated from college within days of each other (Dec 9th & 12th). Let me tell you, it's no easy task pulling off two graduations so close together. We had a celebration for both of them in our home that Sunday in between the actual ceremonies. I'm happy to say that we got through it all with minimal stress and everything came together beautifully.

Chardonnay graduated Magna Cum Laude with Leadership Distinction from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications. She was able to graduate a semester early because she had all of the credits she needed. This was her dream since she was 5 years old to become a Gamecock and go to the University of South Carolina. Her strong work ethic and will took her all the way! She plans to continue her education to obtain her graduate degree.

The graduate with her very proud parents. 

We are truly a Gamecock family 

My husband Dwayne, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southern Wesleyan University with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. He also gave the Invocation (prayer) for the ceremony. The whole ceremony from beginning to end was outstanding and even little William shed some tears. This was such a challenge for Dwayne to work full time, take care of his family, having the responsibility of being his mother's caregiver, as well as attend classes. By God's Grace and his determination, he made it through. Dwayne is a great example to anyone (especially working adults with families) that you can do it!

This isn't a great quality photo, but I was able to grab a video clip and screen captured this photo of Dwayne saying the prayer. I had to hold myself together to keep the phone still. Truly an inspirational and memorable moment. What a blessing! 

It was SO chilly when it was time to take photos! This is why we all had jackets on.

These two buddies were SO happy to be reunited after the ceremony. William is his father's number one fan. 
This has been such a wonderful time of celebration for our family. None of this could have been possible without faith and teamwork. Go Dwayne and Chardonnay! 🙌

Get Holiday Ready In Sophisticated Comfort and Style With NIC&ZOE

Today's conversation has been sponsored by NIC&ZOE

Well we have officially made it to the holiday season. It's time to deck the halls, trim the tree, and get ready to attend holiday parties and events. Of course you can't show up without the proper attire on. I have always believed in having a few higher end classic pieces in my wardrobe that can be dressed up or down and worn in multiple ways. It's the smart way to get more wear out of them. One thing that most women can agree on is that you can't ever have enough items in black. This sassy Luxe Jersey Jumpsuit is a prime example.

This Flashing Lights Cardy would look amazing over the jumpsuit
You could wear this to work in the daytime with a cardigan or business jacket, and easily transform it for a night out on the town. Just add some sparkle and bling along with some sexy heels, and you will be set! Adding a fancy belt and a dressy jacket would make for a sophisticated look. You know what makes me happy about this jumpsuit? It looks super comfortable! You can't beat looking stylish while being comfy. Also you don't have to have a super model figure to pull this look off. 

Another holiday pick is this Smokey Lines Dress.

This gorgeous dress is perfect for if you are a bit self-conscious about your mid-section like I am. All you really need with this is a nice pair of tall black heels and some glammy hair and makeup. I don't think you really need much jewelry or accessories aside from earrings and a clutch style purse. Again, this dress is perfect if comfort is important to you.

If you are looking to add some nice unique pieces to your wardrobe this winter, take a look at what NIC&ZOE has to offer. Like I mentioned earlier, I feel it's important to invest in some good garments that can be worn in different ways. NIC&ZOE garments come in many sizes including petite and plus size. Take a browse and treat yourself today! You can even purchase e-gift cards that can be used at and never expire. No lie, I am asking Santa for that Jumpsuit. I need it in my closet right away!  

Follow NIC&ZOE on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for style inspiration and fashion tips.

Give The 'Hostess With The Mostest' A Nice Gift From Natural HomeLogic

November is here and it's the official start of the holiday season. This means there will be many parties and dinners to attend. Of course you can't go to anyone's shindig without a hostess gift in hand. I am a practical gift giver and I tend to give the things I would love to receive myself. One very thoughtful idea is cleaning products. I'm sure you're thinking, "Say what?". Generally the hostess is the one doing most of the clean-up, so why not make their job a little easier with safe and natural products?

Nature HomeLogic products are made in the USA, biodegradable, hypo-allergenic and are 100% plant and mineral based. Additionally, Logic Products are free from sulfate, paraben, phthalate, formaldehyde, triclosan, BEG and PEA.

Give the hostess the gift of sparkling windows with the ammonia-free Natural HomeLogic Glass Cleaner ($7.75). Wipe away streaks safely and effectively, without any harsh chemicals like ammonia, which is a common ingredient in glass cleaners. It really does a great job and makes you feel good that you're not breathing in any harsh chemicals. You can freely clean around children or pets without worrying.

Natural HomeLogic Toilet Bowl Cleaner ($8.00) steps up to the plate providing a powerful and natural clean using nature's finest ingredients. Natural HomeLogic Toilet Bowl Cleaner is made with 100% plant and mineral derived goodness and will bring the sparkle and shine back to even the dirtiest bowl leaving a natural, refreshing and pleasant grapefruit scent behind.

Natural HomeLogic offers a variety of products for all your cleaning needs. Check them out on their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for products promotions and updates. I think any of their products are the perfect hostess gift. I'm sure the recipient would find it thoughtful too.

I received product samples in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own as always. 

Try out Bojangles' Seasoned Deep Fried Turkey for Thanksgiving (Giveaway) #TisTheSeasoning #ad

I have always wanted to have a deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving, but I am scared to death to actually cook one. I think I have seen enough horror stories on the news to keep me from every attempting it on my own. Did you know that Bojangles' offers seasoned deep fried turkeys for the holidays? Bojangles' wants to do the hard work for you by cooking your turkey so you can have more time with your family and friends. After all, isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?

You can pre-order Bojangles’ Seasoned Fried Turkeys by visiting one of the participating stores. Customers who take home the turkey the same day their order is placed will also receive a bonus $5 Bojangles’ gift card. Those who’d like to pre-order and wait to pick up their tasty turkey can wait until as late as noon on Thanksgiving Day. Bojangles’ Seasoned Fried Turkeys are a customer favorite—often they sell out even prior to Thanksgiving day so the sooner the order is placed the better! The turkeys are sold for $39.99. Each turkey weighs in at 10 to 13 pounds and feeds six to eight people. The turkeys come ready to cook—customers can simply take it home, heat and serve.

All Bojangles’ locations offering Seasoned Fried Turkeys can provide a full Thanksgiving meal, complete with made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits and family-sized fixin’s such as mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, green beans, Seasoned Fries, Cajun Pintos ® and Dirty Rice® and sweet desserts like Bo-Berry Biscuits®, Cinnamon Pecan Twists and individual Sweet Potato Pies.

Customers can find out if their Bojangles’ is offering the popular Seasoned Fried Turkeys by visiting the and calling their local store. In addition to Seasoned Fried Turkeys, customers can add the delicious taste of Bojangles’ seasonings to every holiday meal by purchasing Bojangles’ pre-packaged French Fry Seasoning at participating locations beginning Monday, Nov. 24. This makes me so happy because I am a huge fan of their seasoned fries! Customers and enthusiasts are invited to share their Bojangles’ seasoned dishes and holiday memories with the hashtag #TisTheSeasoning.

I think the Bojangles' offerings are perfect for office parties, potluck suppers and of course, at home with your family and friends. To get you prepared for Thanksgiving, the folks from Bojangles' have provided me with a $20 gift card to give away to one lucky Mom Files reader. Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on November 21, 2014. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes.

Disclosure: I received complimentary items from Bojangles' to help promote their holiday offerings. All opinions are my own as always.

Choosing Christening Decorations for a Main Table

If you'll be celebrating your baby's christening soon you should think about decorating the celebration you'll have with friends and family after the religious ceremony. Christening-related table decor will not only make the dining area more appealing, but will serve as an elegant reminder of the reason why everyone gathered.

Things to consider when choosing appropriate christening decorations:

Size of baptism favors and decorations
Select christening decorations for the table and make sure they are noticeable, but not too overwhelming when it comes to the size. For example, if you have invited not so many guests and have a square table, then a small collection of rosaries with rose petals will do perfectly. For a larger number of people, you can decorate the table with a pair of ceramic doves and ceramic replica of a cross. They would look great as symbols of peace and love.

Color palette of the party
Mostly, it's preferred to use white color palette for christening decorations, because this particular color symbolizes the beginning of something positive and purity. But, on the contrary, it is allowed to complement the white tablecloth with silver or gold accents to add the peculiar elegant touch – this is referred to the tableware or table flowers. For example, place a bouquet of white roses in a silver vase.

Significance must be emphasized through unique christening decorations
Make sure that the major christening table decoration is remarkably memorable. For example, enlarge the infant’s photo and then frame it in a silver or golden frame to make an awesome table centerpiece. Designers also recommend decorating the table with white, gold and silver banners displaying the baby's name and the date of the christening ceremony.
Make sure your christening decorations for the table have a personal touch. Do not just copy the magazines or your friends’ christening parties – this party has to be individual so do not be afraid to add your own ideas and homemade christening decorations for the table.

Beat the heat this Summer with Bomb Pops from Publix (Giveaway)

School's out, the temperatures have been in the 90's and the days are long... It's Summertime! One of my favorite Summer treats since childhood is the Original Bomb Pop. Do you remember them? I have memories of running after the ice cream truck every day to get my hands on one!
There is something about the flavor combination that can't be beat. Cherry, Lime and Blue Raspberry are so refreshing. I'm so amazed that they still taste the same after all these years. The thing that makes a Bomb Pop so special is the texture. It's smooth and not crunchy and icy like most frozen treats. They are so good! I was so surprised to see how many different Bomb Pop flavors are available. I saw the Hawaiian Punch, Watermelon and Original varieties in my local Publix store the other day. I want to check a couple more locations for the Banana Fudge flavor. Doesn't that sound delicious?
I have to make sure to stock up on some Bomb Pops for when the kids have friends over throughout the summer. Our whole family loves them so you can never have enough! The signature red white and blue treats make me think about celebrating the summer season. Check out these cute blueberry muffins decked out in all-American stars and stripes.
Do you want a little something to help make summer more festive? One Mom Files reader will win a Patriotic Prize Pack like this one below...
The prize pack will include:
·         2 coupons for FREE Bomb Pops
·         $25 Publix gift card
·         Patriotic Star Cupcake Combo Pack
·         Patriotic Tableware Caddy
·         Red, White & Blue Fan Decorations
·         Patriotic 3-D Star Centerpieces
·         Chevron Treat Bags

This would be perfect for your next summer cookout or celebration. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on June 30, 2014. Please follow giveaway rules in Rafflecopter widget. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!
The prize pack was provided to me in exchange for an honest review and hosting a giveaway. All opinions are my own as always. 

Plan your next birthday party with SUBWAY Catering ($50 GC Giveaway) #SUBWAYcatering

**CLOSED** The winner is Sheena Tatum-- Congratulations! 

This post is sponsored by SUBWAY, but opinions are all my own.
Planning birthday parties can be a stressful task. There's the guest list, invitations, decorations, tableware, food and so much more. If your schedule is as busy as mine, time is precious. I love to offer my guests nice food and drinks and feel like that part of party planning is the most time consuming. Sometimes just coming up with a menu will make me crazy. I have been introduced to a great way to take the stress out of party menu planning and get back the countless hours I would lose. SUBWAY Catering is here to save your sanity. The website is very user friendly and you can order your entrees, sides, dessert and drink all with a few clicks of your mouse! I did it for myself and believe me, it was life-changing! I have been party menu planning the wrong way all my life. Let me break it down for you...

The first step is to go to the SUBWAY Catering website and find a location you would like you use. Some stores even offer delivery service for more added convenience. Next, you can view the menu items which range from platters & trays, giant subs, to-go boxed meals, dessert, sides and drinks. The offerings vary by store. Here is an example of what it looks like:
You can select what types of entrees you want. I went with the Classic Combo Platter and was able to pick which variety of bread I want, cheese or no cheese and all of the toppings and sauces. 
I went with the option of having a variety of breads and I am so glad I did! If your guests might be picky about toppings, you can opt for a toppings platter so they can pick and choose as they please. Once you finish with your order, choose your pick-up date/time, you then pay for it online. You can even use a SUBWAY gift card like I did. It's a very quick process and you will receive an email with your order number. I suggest signing up for an account because YOU WILL need it for future orders. The entire ordering process took me about 20 minutes. Imagine not having to make a shopping list, go to the grocery store, shop around for ingredients or stand in line to pay for it all. Oh and you are bound to forget something along the way! SUBWAY Catering really made this task so easy. 

I threw a mini belated birthday/you-are-doing-a-super-job in school party for my son William. We purchased some Power Rangers themed decorations, plates, napkins and cups from Party City. They had everything we needed and it was easy to get in and out of the store. I called ahead to my local SUBWAY store that I placed my order to make sure it would be ready for my 11:30 AM requested pick-up time. It turned out that my order was ready ahead of schedule. I made the quick five -minute drive and my order was handed to me right away. I had such a great experience with the staff and they even offered additional plates and napkins for my party. Everything was put together so nicely.

Here are some photos from our intimate little party..

Don't these sandwiches look delicious?!
It was so nice having a variety of subs that everyone found something (or several things) they liked. The cookies were very fresh and chewy the way my family likes. 

My son is my picky eater and he enjoyed his sub. I had to take the toppings off of his. The bread was so fresh and soft, so I think that encouraged him to eat it all. Our family enjoyed everything! This was truly the easiest party I have ever planned. I was discussing future events and already know that the menu portion is taken care of. I may never cook for a party again! SUBWAY Catering platters and subs are a great choice for birthdays, graduations, office functions, class parties, field trips, sporting events and more. I had a great experience and highly recommend you give them a try!

SUBWAY Catering has teamed up with Party City for an exciting new promotion! With any SUBWAY Catering purchase, from now until May 30th, you’ll receive a special link giving SUBWAY customers $10 off a $50 order at Party City. Be sure to connect with SUBWAY on Twitter and like them on Facebook for product promotions and updates.

To help you save time on the next birthday party you plan, SUBWAY has generously offered a $50 SUBWAY gift card for one very lucky Mom Files' reader to win! Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on May 21, 2014. Please follow giveaway rules in Rafflecopter widget. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!
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