Grill Master

Have you tried McCormick’s GrillMates? Some pretty amazing stuff is contained there.

The husband’s been trying out a couple of them when grilling. I’ve always loved his creations, but this adds a little flair. The photo above is of Molasses Bacon seasoning added to the hamburger meat and Brown Sugar Bourbon BBQ sauce. The resulting explosion of taste was beautiful.

The meal got rave reviews from everyone who has shared those meals with us. You just might see more of that in our future!

Madagascar 3

What a party! There were mazes to fill out, tic tac toe puzzles to challenge each other with, and connect the dot images to sketch. Everyone grabbed a pen and started things off well. There were even a couple matching picture challenges.

The older kids were game for Tape the Tail on the Gloria, but I couldn’t talk the adults into it. [They were a little camera shy.]

But my favorite part about a Madagascar party was the four kids each playing with the masks and trying to make the baby believe they were characters from the movie. He didn’t seem too worried, but he’s pretty used to his sister throwing him a bunch of curve balls in the way of roars and dropping dragons near him.

I taped the faces around the baby’s crib to keep him company. I hope he’s as amused as I am. The movie was awesome (but the baby had to stay home), and we can’t wait to watch it again. Hope you enjoy it as much! It’s fun to add to the movie experiences for the kids with little take-home games and activities.

Crowdtap – Old Navy Sample Share

[And it’s funny, because I don’t usually wait until the last minute to put things together, but I have this burning question from editing my novel – like where to introduce one character (chapter 1 or 2) and whether to introduce the other character at all as early as I do… Oh, the joys of editing! But I get to take a break and talk about something else a moment before diving back into those issues.]

As you know, I’ve been a member of Crowdtap for some time and I got another sample for Old Navy share last October. It’s been really fun to give some feedback and I have a couple Amazon gift cards from the experience. [Email me: noble.ransom (at) gmail (dot) com if you want more details or an invitation.]

I just got another one for two FREE t-shirts at Old Navy for me and a friend. It was great and we got to try them all on, though we were leaning heavily toward the Henleys to begin with. They feel great on, and while I originally worried the material was pretty thin, I have worn each of these shirts all day and they held up very well to the abuse of a typical day with a toddler (almost 3) and a breastfeeding newborn (2 months today).

My friend accompanied me with her 3 year old and her 7 month old. Since we met at parent-tot gymnastics just before my son was born, our two toddlers ran circles around us and helped themselves to the toys in the store. My friend and I took turns trying things on while the other kept an eye on the kids. Luckily the babies were on good behavior!

Here are the pictures of the shirts we decided on: 

The Henleys were a good option for me since I’m breastfeeding. I have a sling for my son and he likes being close and it keeps my hands free for my toddler. He can nurse in there, which is why I love buttons and nursing tanks. It was a little tricky the first time, but it’s getting easier each time we try it. Great easy style to be on the go. And I might be a stay-at-home mom (and writer) for a while, but that means I’m always on the go.

And her picks: 


Yes, you saw that right. We picked the same shirt. Great minds think alike, right? I’m sure one of these days we’re going to show up to our gymnastics class in the same shirt in the same color! She talked me out of the paler colors because they washed out my skin, which is a pity because sometimes it’s nice to wear those softer shades. Can’t argue with that logic, though, so I’m all ready for St. Patrick’s Day with my green Henley from Old Navy.

We both had a lot of fun and took our children to the park afterward to play. It reminded me that I haven’t had a lot of time to shop since my son arrived and it’s been good to get out and see where everything is – we moved to town 4 months ago and I’m starting to know my way around enough to not rely on the GPS every single time I get in the car.

Can’t wait to get back to Old Navy to see what else they have.

Old Navy, Moving, and NaNoWriMo – Oh My!

I joined CrowdTap earlier this year. My sister-in-law started it. She and I share a love of shopping in many ways, which explains our Black Friday marathons and long telephone conversations that include details about recent trips to the store as well as opportunities to save more on the next trip. I’m lucky my husband has such a cool sister! But every now and again, I bet he wishes we didn’t have so much in common after our shopping trips.

In Dubuque, the Old Navy staff know my sister-in-law by name. I end up shopping as often or more with her there than I do at my own Old Navy in Des Moines. Somehow CrowdTap gave me a bunch  of opportunities to rate Old Navy merchandise and has offered me opportunities for several sample shares – but I either didn’t have enough experience within CrowdTap or not the right credentials for the past ones. The first one I qualified for I shared with my sister-in-law, of course!

It was totally worth paying priority mail to get it to her. I was also ecstatic when they opened it from only the compression tops to all activewear tops. I’m 30 weeks pregnant today, so it would not have been comfortable or pretty to put me in a compression top, even only long enough for pictures.

One thing that cracks me up about this picture is I think she bought me the same coat that she’s wearing – at Old Navy. I’ve been wearing it all the time because it is only one of two coats that fit me while pregnant. We should get a picture together when we match.

As usual, she looks great in everything, but I think she made a good choice.

While this is not taken while I was teaching, I have already taught a couple classes in m new outfit. My internal thermometer gets me too hot while teaching and I have a fan blowing on me most of the time, but I wear the hoodie to and from class, and also while packing at home.

I love how easy it is to move in this outfit. I have an Old Navy maternity yoga top underneath, too. The shoes are Vibram FiveFingers and this is one of my most comfortable outfits while pregnant! The pants don’t roll underneath my belly, but stay snuggled up to my new curves.

And on to the moving update: I will be moving from Des Moines to the Quad Cities on November 19th. It’s all happening very fast, and I hardly know which way is up. It’s one reason I haven’t been updating this blog as often, and the posts will be somewhat infrequent until we land in our new space. Moving is difficult but, on the up side, I’ll be much closer to my sister-in-law to go shopping! Because I need more distractions from my writing…

Speaking of which, I have come to grips with my limitations at 30 weeks pregnant. Even though I am moving, I still have to sit down from time to time. During those times, I have been writing. I have an entire novel prepped from an October challenge with my writing buddies. We don’t spend a ton of time per day as a minimum, but sometimes we get carried away. I spent over 15,000 words brainstorming around the outline, and I think I’m ready to attempt the novel. I am not promising to make the 50,000 words in 30 days, but there’s a good chance I’ll make it anyway. Things are coming together at home and I’m quitting my part-time jobs for the move, which will mean more time when we land in our new temporary living space.

Until then, I will be up to my eyes in to-do lists and little chores to take care of. Wish me luck, and go shop at Old Navy!