Benefits of Drinking Water and How to Enjoy It

Most of you know that drinking water is beneficial after all our bodies are mostly made up of water. With that being said, what we know to be good for us isn’t always easy to do. Many people struggle with drinking an adequate amount of water on a daily basis, so today I wanted to share a few benefits of drinking water and then some tips on how to enjoy drinking water. This should help inspire you to get clever with water intake and in turn, start being hydrated on a regular basis.

Benefits of Drinking Water and How to Enjoy It

Alleviate Headaches

When you start to feel headaches coming in, grab a cup of water and drink. Often times we get headaches because our body is telling us we need more water. Drinking water will help alleviate headaches over time, as you work to get your body back to a proper level of hydration.

Promotes Weight Loss

Another benefit of drinking water is that it helps promote weight loss. Since water has zero calorie content, you’re not putting extra calories into your body. When you drink more water, it helps your stomach feel full and in turn, you start to see that scale move down finally.

Flushes Toxins

Drinking water is one of the best ways to help flush your body of toxins. We eat so many different types of foods and drink things that aren’t good for us. If you’re looking to keep those toxins at bay, then increase your water consumption as it is a natural way to flush toxins from your system.

Maintains Regularity

Lastly, drinking the proper intake of water on a daily basis will help keep your body hydrated which ultimately helps maintain regularity. We often suffer from constipation because our body doesn’t have enough fluids. Water is the perfect solution to help you get back to being regular.

How to Enjoy Drinking Water

There are many options on the market for water bottles that can help you enjoy drinking water. Whether you order a sports bottle that has lines to track how much you drank or a humorous sports bottle meant to inspire you or cheer you on as you chug that water, you can easily enjoy drinking water using a sports bottle.

You may also purchase fruit infuser bottles. These water bottles make it easy to add cucumbers, lemons or even blueberries into your water without the added bad stuff that comes with flavored water. Adding a little natural flavor to your water is a great way to maintain proper health while enjoying a favorite flavor.

A Guide to Giving Sympathy Meals

A sympathy meal is one in which you provide to a family who’s suffered a loss, poor health conditions, or similar situation that may leave them feeling down and out. Whatever the reason for your search to give a sympathy meal to someone, this guide will provide you learn how to give a sympathy meal in a way that ensures it’s received with a big smile.

Sympathy Meals

Make a Main Meal

If you’re not up for making a huge meal to provide to a neighbor in need, then you should at least be sure to make the main meal forgiving. Something like a dish of lasagna or a casserole meal that’s more of a nourishing meal will be best.

Avoid Allergens

Make sure you take into consideration food items that others tend to be allergic to. A main meal that includes peanuts or gluten, for example, may not be well-suited for a sympathy meal. Be sure to include a main course meal that avoids common food allergens.

Avoid Strong Foods

Foods such as fish or olives, for example, are items that many will have a strong opinion about. Perhaps they don’t like the smell, taste, or texture. Make sure your main course meal being provided doesn’t have any ingredients that could be considered a strong food that is often disliked by people.

Prepped for Pop and Cook

Make sure that the main meal you are giving as a sympathy meal is made well enough so that the recipient can keep it frozen and then pop it in the oven and cook when ready. Place a little note on the main meal that provides instructions for oven temperature and length of time to cook.

Notify the Family

You’ll know best if it’s okay to disturb the family you’re providing the sympathy meal to or if it’s best to reach out to an extended family member. Make sure that you notify the family of when the meal will be delivered so that they are not being disturbed from anything important going on.

There are people in need all around us in our community. They may not speak up and they may be too prideful to ask for help. This guide to giving sympathy meals is meant to inspire you to give to others in need without making them feel less than worthy. These sympathy meals should be a gentle act of kindness as a means to establish the neighbor helping neighbor mentality in this world again.

Instant Pot Applesauce Recipe

Instant Pot Applesauce

I love applesauce and my family eats so much of it!  I used to make small batches of it when I only had one little one but after my son came along I gave in and began buying it.  Now that my family is eating more and more applesauce (the kids eat it daily with their probiotic mixed in) I wanted to find a way to make it in bulk at home.  My friend Jennifer shared her Instant Pot Applesauce Recipe with me and I’m excited to share it with you.

Ingredients:

  • -8 apples, chopped (she used a full 3 lb bag)
  • -1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • -1 teaspoon salt
  • -1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • -Juice of one lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • -1/2 cup water

Directions:

  • -Place chopped apples in the Instant Pot and toss to coat with all ingredients except water.
  • -Secure Instant Pot lid and place on manual pressure for 10 minutes, or up to 20 if you want to really caramelize your applesauce.
  • -Mash up the cooked apples with a potato masher or blend it up in a blender to achieve your desired consistency.
  • -Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

I’m just learning to use my Instant Pot (well, mine is a different brand but same concept) for things other than the few pasta dishes I know.  What are some of your favorite Instant Pot recipes?

Meal Planning Tips for Families

One of the easiest ways to save money and stick with a budget when raising children is to start meal planning. You can easily plan out a week of food for the entire family and end up saving quite a bit of cash. If you’re looking for some easy to follow meal planning tips for families, then you’ve come to the right place. Today I am sharing the best meal planning tips for families to help you save money and get your weekly meals organized to alleviate stress.

Meal Planning Tips for Families

Make a Master List

You will know best what meals work great for your family and what meals are not so popular. Create a master list of 10-20 meal ideas that your family will enjoy. This master list will be your go-to whenever you start to make up that weekly meal plan. It helps save time and stress involved with prepping for your weekly family meals.

Save Easy Recipes

While you will want the master list of meal ideas that have worked for your family in the past, consider looking up new easy recipes. When you add a few more new meal ideas that cost less and are easy to whip up, you’re helping to use meal planning to the best of its abilities. This will save you time and money which is usually the sole purpose of learning how to master meal planning.

My Favorite Of All Meal Planning Tips – Plan to Eat

I use Plan to Eat and absolutely love it!  Click my referral link here to learn more about it.  It’s an app that saves all my recipes so easily (just a few clicks if I’m saving a recipe from a blog or a recipe website), it automatically creates a shopping list that I can click off as I shop (or find that I already have that item on hand at home), and I can easily add additional items as I think of them through the week so they’re already on my list when I’m ready to shop.  My husband introduced it to me a few years ago and it has been life changing.  If I don’t know what I want for the week, I pull up the app and add them to my week with a few clicks and my store list is ready.  It does cost a little after the free trial but it saves us so much where we eat out less and do less grabbing whatever while we walk around the store that it easily pays for itself within the first month of using it.  Of all my meal planning tips, this is the best!  Plan to Eat, check it out. 🙂

Consider Meal Prep Sunday

There are many meal options online for families who are perfectly okay with taking Sunday to meal prep. You can use your meal planning menu to have homemade frozen meals. You will need gallon size freezer storage bags, the ingredients for each meal and room in your freezer if you try to cut corners with this method of creating meals ahead on Sundays.

Predict the Meal Mood

Sure this may sound silly but if you think about, it makes sense. Your family may not be in the mood for hearty soup recipe at dinner time if the weather has been warm all day long.  I’m really bad about wanting a hearty soup in the middle of summer and it never goes over well with my family.  (I should try a cold soup but the idea of one doesn’t sit well with me.  One day, I’ll try one, one day!)  Consider what each day holds for weather patterns and prepare your meal plan for the week based on the appropriate weather patterns. This ensures you make lighter meals on warmer days and heartier meals on colder days. (Like this Crock Pot White Chicken Chili Recipe)

Chocolate Pie Recipe

This Chocolate Silk Pie is always right no matter the outdoor temperature! 🙂

Use a Calendar

Whether it’s a white erase board calendar or one that you have for use in your purse, you will need to keep a calendar that organizes the meal planning for each week. This will help you stay on track and prepare properly each day for whatever is on your meal plan agenda for the day. Having a family calendar on the wall with your meal plan is even better to keep everyone in the loop.

The last few tips I have to lend to you when it comes to meal planning for families is to always use a grocery list when you head to the grocery store. You will want to ensure you stay on track and on a budget when it comes to meal planning success.

Prime Day Deals – Blackstone Griddle Sale 30% Off!

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Blackstone Griddle Grill

This Blackstone Griddle is incredible!  We own the first generation model and got it on clearance before this one rolled out. It was my husband’s Father’s Day gift this year.  He loves it and we’ve used it to make bacon, pancakes, cheese steaks, hamburgers, and so far everything has turned out fabulous. I can’t wait to try some stir fry type meals.  This new fancy griddle is even better with extra accessories and features that ours doesn’t have.  Plus, it’s 30% off today when you shop here on Amazon.  Don’t you just love Prime Day?  I do!  If you haven’t joined yet, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to take advantage of this Prime Day Deal and get free 2-day shipping!

Original Price: $299.00
With Deal: $209.30 & FREE shipping for Prime members
You Save: $89.70!! (30%)

Click here to see all the Amazon Prime Deals I’ve shared.  Maybe later when I’m not in deal sharing mode I’ll share pics of the Blackstone in action.  It’s truly a great cooking tool to have on hand and we love ours!

Are Plastic Straws Out? Plus, Alternatives!

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10 Plastic Straw Alternatives

Plastic straws may very well be a thing of the past before we know it.  Big companies are taking a hard look at these cheap but harmful beverage tools.  Starbucks said in a press release that they are working on removing all plastic straws by 2020.  This will effect all of their stores (roughly 28,000 from what I’ve read) and that alone will eliminate 1 billion straws a year.  1 BILLION!  That’s crazy to think about.  My son’s favorite color is green and that’s his favorite part of the Starbucks experience so I’ll have to work to find him a green reusable straws.  Starbucks isn’t the only ones making a change.  McDonald’s has mentioned a desire to go that direction.  Even bigger than those two giants, Seattle, Miami Beach and Malibu, California have already passed bans on plastic straws in its bars and restaurants, with Seattle being the first to completely eliminate them.  With the straw landscape changing course I’ve hit to the internet to find plastic straw alternatives.  Here are the 10 best reusable straw options I’ve found!  (You can go here to read more about how the straw industry is changing.)

Stainless Steel Straws

  • 1.  Stainless steel – We already use stainless steel straws in our home for cold beverages I’ve never taken them out…yet.  You can buy my favorite ones here for $6.89 for 4 on Amazon (note, the price could change at any time).  It even comes with a handy brush for easy cleaning.

Rose Gold Straws

  • 2.  Rose gold straws – Okay, so this is the same as the stainless steel straws above but they’re straight and half of them are rose gold!! Who doesn’t love rose gold?  Now you can feel a little fancier while helping save the planet. This set is available here on Amazon for $14.95 and comes with a cleaning brush and convenient carrying case for on the go sipping.

Lolistraws

  • 3.  If you’re Shark Tank lovers like myself you’ll remember an edible cup and plate company.  That company is Loliware.  Well, they are in the process of making edible straws.  You can preorder yours here for a discount through Indiegogo.   Lolistraw by Loliware – It’s the world’s first edible and hyper-compostable straw.  The Lolistraw is made from seaweed and its coloring and flavor comes from fruit and vegetable pigments.  How cool?!

Hay Straws

  • 4. Hay straws!  Sounds crazy but fun, right?  Hay straws are made from wheat stems, which would other wise go to waste.  You can find them here on Amazon and get a pack of 100 for $10.

Glass Straws

  • 5.  Glass straws.  These aren’t your plain Jane glass straws, these come in six beautiful colors and are shatter-resistant.  This might be the set I need to get for my son to take with us to restaurants!  It’s not quite the vibrant Starbucks green but I think he’ll like it.  You can find this set here on Amazon for $10.29.

Aardvark Paper Straws

  • 6.  Aardvark paper straws. These paper straws are made right here in the U.S. using only materials that are non-toxic, BPA free, and elemental chlorine free.  This sounds like a great change from plastic straws anyway, don’t you think?  You can find these here on Amazon.  I’m not giving a price for these because they come in a variety of colors and sizes so the price varies greatly.

Biodegradable Straws

  • 7.  Plant based straws.  Their Amazon listing says, “Straws are awful for the environment but not these, these straws are made of plant-based and other non-toxic materials, they are even compostable! There is no petroleum and they are completely food-safe.”  That sounds good to me.  A friend of mine just found out that her work uses these.  She has used them for months and never realized it wasn’t a “regular” old plastic straw.  You can get a pack of 200 here on Amazon for $11.50.

Simply Straws

  • 8.  Simply straws.  This party pack of straws comes wit a heftier price tag but comes with a lifetime guarantee.  The blue straw is especially vibrant and lovely!  You can get this set here on Amazon for $44.43.

Bamboo Drinking Straws

  • 9.  Bamboo drinking straws.  This eco-friendly product boasts, “100% ORGANIC, PESTICIDE FREE, FERTILIZER FREE, AND GMO FREE are all top priority factors for a premium product.”  This set of 12 sells here on Amazon for $12.21.

Silicone Reusable Straws

  • 10.  Silicone reusable straws.  This rainbow set of angled straws will be great for on the go drinking.  This set sells here on Amazon for $8.99. An affordable option that is also kid-friendly and dishwasher safe.

Hard Plastic Reusable Straws

  • 11. Hard plastic reusable straws.  These straws are colorful and will bring a little pep to an otherwise boring meal.  This 18 straw set comes with a cleaning brush and is available here on Amazon for $6.99.

Oops, I actually gave 11!  Oh well, the rose gold stainless steel and the stainless steel one were pretty much the same one anyway, right? haha

Those are the best reusable straw options I could find but I would love to hear if you know of another one.  I heard of a really cool ice mold you could use to make an ice straw.  Obviously, this wouldn’t be great for travel but super fun on a summer day.  Unfortunately, it isn’t still in production.

Plastic Straw Alternatives

10 Things We Love Made in North Carolina

This post is brought to you by Bob Fisher Chevrolet.

Made In North Carolina

While I’m native to West Virginia, I now reside in North Carolina.  Not only is it a special place to me because I’ve raised my family here but also because of the beautiful scenery that surrounds it and the distinct culture that is North Carolina.  There are things that distinguish North Carolina from the rest of the country, brands that make it stand out.  I’ve curated a list of the best products made in North Carolina that I’m sure you’ll love.

  • –  Krispy Kreme Doughnuts: Krispy Kreme was founded in 1937 by Vernon Rudolph who bought a recipe from a French chef and had intended to only sell to the local grocery stores but through constant public demand to buy the sweet smelling pastries he relented and started selling right from the bakery as well. The first bakery was opened in Winston-Sale