The Blog of a Bluegrass Belle

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#ItStartedWithHello: Lindt HELLO Chocolate

Thanks to Lindt for sponsoring today's post. 

"Hello" is a powerful phrase. It has the ability to help strangers become friends, and it can even transform a friendship into a romance. One year ago, the word "hello" altered my life forever. A friend of a friend said hello, and that was the beginning of my love story. 

My fiance, Jeremy and I share a mutual love of chocolate, writing, gardening and The Big Bang Theory. We met one year ago on a blind date to a festival, and we haven't looked back. Second only to my son, he is my fondest hello and hardest goodbye. I know he loves me because he is willing to share his chocolate bar.

Lindt Chocolates wants to help make saying hello a little easier with their new line of HELLO chocolate inspired by, "It started with HELLO." Lindt HELLO chocolates come in four decadent flavors that are reminiscent of popular desserts. 
  • Caramel Brownie
  • Crunchy Nougat 
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Strawberry Cheesecake 
It is impossible for me to choose a favorite, all four were delicious.

Lindt also created an adorable web series, "It Started with HELLO." A new video with debut every week until October 9th, and showcases some romantic but slightly comedic first connections.

The Lindt HELLO bars are conveniently packaged three ways:
  • Bars
  • Sticks 
  • Mini-Stick bags 
Lindt HELLO can be found at most grocery stores and drug stores. Locally, I found Lindt HELLO at Wal-Mart and Walgreens. 

In celebration of the launch of Lindt HELLO they're offering a few opportunities to win some fantastic prizes. You can enter everyday for a chance to win. 

To enter the sweepstakes, visit the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes Landing Page and enter your email address. The prizes are pretty neat! I would love a shopping spree with my girlfriends or a day at the spa with my best friend/Maid of Honor. 

5 Weeks of Prizes – Connect with Someone You Love, or Someone New!

Week 1: Table for Two (9/10 – 9/16)
• Dinner & a movie with the +1 of your choice!

Week 2: Double the Fun (9/17 – 9/39)
• Say HELLO to a fun double date night + Lindt HELLO chocolate for dessert

Week 3: Girls Just Want to Have Fun (9/24 – 9/30)
• Enjoy a shopping spree with the girls + yummy Lindt HELLO Chocolate!

Week 4: Sweet Staycation (10/1 – 10/7)
• Lindt HELLO treats you to a pampered night in – movies, books + chocolate!

Week 5: Besties Reunion (10/8 – 10/14)
• Reconnect with your bestie at the spa for a day + Lindt HELLO chocolate to sweeten the deal.

For complete rules and details please see their website.

Does anything make it easier to say HELLO? 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Peach Brown Sugar Pie

My mom brought us a bushel of peaches 9 days ago. I froze most of the peaches to use during winter, but I needed to find some delicious ways to use the rest. I couldn't find the exact peach pie recipe that I wanted to use, so I created my own. This pie is very easy to put together, and it disappeared soon after it was out of the oven.

4-5 cups peaches diced or sliced (roughly 8 to 10 ripe peaches)
1 cup cake flour (can substitute for sifted all-purpose in a pinch)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons lemon juice or treat the peaches with Ball Fruit Fresh according to label
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
2 pre-made 9 inche pie crusts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all dry ingredients well in a bowl, try to ensure there are no lumps in the sugar or flour. Add in the peaches that were treated with lemon juice or fruit fresh, folding them into the dry ingredients. Add the almond extract. Peaches should be well coated with the dry mixture. If peaches aren't juicy or if they seem dry you can add in a few tablespoons of melted butter to the mixture.

Roll out one pie crust and place it in the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. Fill the pie crust with the peach mixture. Slice the second crust into strips to create a lattice pattern and place on top of the pie. Roll the edge of the bottom pie crust over the ends of the lattice, and crimp the edges. Beat the egg and wash the top of the pie.

Bake the pie for 60 minutes. If the crust is browning too fast, carefully place aluminum foil around the edges halfway through baking to prevent scorching.

Allow the pie to cool before serving.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#PAYWITHMYPHONE and Verizon Softcard™

Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Verizon Wireless and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The Softcard™ related content is provided by Verizon Wireless. The opinions on this blog are entirely my own.

When my son was two years old, his father was deployed overseas and we lived several hours from my family. I loved that I got to be at home with him, but we were together all the time. There were several tasks that I hated; going to the grocery store was at the top of the list. I dreaded it so bad that I only went every two weeks, because who has time to entertain a toddler and shop? One fateful day after nearly an hour in the grocery store and cart full of groceries, I realized that my cards were gone. I don't normally carry cash on me, so I certainly didn't have the $150 to pay my bill. I remembered seeing Gabe with my wallet on my bed, and that is where I found my cards when I returned home. I wouldn't have had that problem if Softcard™ would have been available. Who needs to carry cash, debit, or credit cards when you can #paywithmyphone using Verizon Softcard™? 

What is Softcard™? It is a free smartphone application available on select mobile devices that allows you to safely store credit, debit, and loyalty card information on your smartphone. You can scan your phone at certain retailers and vending machines instead of using your card. You can search online or in the app to see which locations near you accept Softcard™


What exactly can be stored on Softcard™
There are several participating credit cards including American Express, Chase®, and Wells Fargo®. You also have the option of setting up an American Express Serve® account which can be funded using a debit card, credit card, or U.S. bank account. You can also store loyalty cards from select stores which helps to eliminate all those unsightly key fobs and cards floating in your wallet. 
Is Softcard® safe? The technology used makes the application very safe. 
  • The app is PIN protected. You must enter your unique PIN each time that you open Softcard™.
  • If your phone is lost or stolen, you can disable the app with just a short call or a click online. 
  • Payment information is stored on a special chip in your phone called Secure Element.
  • There is a unique transaction ID with each use, making counterfeit use difficult.
Are there any other advantages to using Softcard™? There are other advantages to using Softcard™. You can receive special offers, discounts, and even bonuses for using your Softcard™ app. 
  • Spend $40 and Get $20: Verizon customers with an American Express Serve Account on      Softcard from Verizon can get a $20 credit after you spend $40 or more on one purchase with your Serve Account through September 30, 2014. Terms Apply.
  • $1 back on purchases: Tap to pay with an American Express Serve Account in Softcard and get $1 back on each purchase of $1 or more. Up to $50 per month with the Serve credit through December 12, 2014. Terms apply.
  • First 3 Coca-Cola® drinks are FREE. After the first three free drinks, if you buy 10 more, you get another 1 FREE through December 31, 2014. You must sign up for the “My Coke Rewards” loyalty card within Softcard to take advantage of this.
  • Share the love and receive up to $150. You can register on the site and refer up to 15 friends to sign up for a Softcard™account. You can receive a $10 Amazon gift card for each friend that signs up, up to $150 total until December 31, 2014. The referred friends that activate a Softcard™ account will also receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Sharing is caring! Certain restrictions apply, please see website for complete details. 
  • Chico’s – $25 off $100 or more (ends 10/31)
  • Carter’s – 20% off $40 or more (ends 9/30)
  • White House Black Market – $20 off $80 (ends 10/31)
  • Osh Gosh – 20% off $40 or more (ends 9/30)
Interesting in signing up for a Softcard™ account? You can visit the website or download the application to your eligible smartphone. 

There will be a Verizon Softcard™ Twitter party Thursday, September 25th from 12-1pm EST hosted by PTPA. 

You can click the link here to RSVP. They are offering some great prizes including the grand prize of a $200 American Express Serve® gift card. Hope to see you at the party! 

Wordless Wednesday: Summer comes to a close on Hall Farms

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Depend wants you to #DropYourPants for #Underwareness

Thank you to Depend for sponsoring today's post about the #dropyourpants for #underwareness movement.

When we were kids my brother Brandon loved to hold me down and tickle me until I had to pee. I'm super ticklish so it didn't take much before I was screaming that I had to "go".  Twenty years and a child of my own later, I don't think I could have made it to the bathroom. It is a difficult subject for most women, and it is often a taboo topic. Who wants to talk about bladder leakage or postpartum urinary incontinence? Depend® wants you to #dropyourpants for #underwareness.

Photo Credit: Depend® 

So what is #underwareness? Did you know that 12 million Americans under the age of 35 suffer from bladder leakage? One out of every four Americans will suffer from bladder leakage in their lifetime. When so many people suffer from an ailment, why do we make it taboo? Depend® wants to create awareness about the realities of bladder leakage and start a conversation. Depend® undergarments can give adults the freedom to not worry about bladder leakage, and live without the fear of bladder related accidents.

When I was in the first grade, I had a horrible teacher. I had frequent urinary tract infections and it was from my teacher preventing me from going to the restroom. She once made me hold it so long that I actually peed on myself. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, and I don't think I will ever forget it. My great grandmother who was a retired school teacher told me that if I ever asked to use the restroom and my teacher told me no, that I was to walk out of class, use the restroom, and walk to the principals office to explain what happened. It was an incident that made me feel terrible, and I was just a young girl. I spent most of the year hoping I didn't have another accident. I can only imagine the struggles of an adult constantly worried about bladder control.

Do you have bladder control issues and you aren't sure if Depend® is the right product for you? Visit the Depend® website and request your free sample. Information about requesting a free sample is located on the upper right side of the website, just click the get a sample link.

Photo Credit: Depend®

Photo Credit: Depend®

The aspect of this campaign that I really love is that they are willing to donate $1 to charity with a maximum donation of $3 million over 3 years to charities that advance the research, education, and awareness of bladder leakage.

Photo Credit: Depend®

You can help raise money for charity by participating in the campaign two ways.
  • Share a photo or video on Instagram using the hashtags #underwareness and #dropyourpants.
  • Share a video on Youtube explaining what #underwareness means to you and using the hashtags #underwareness and #dropyourpants. 
Photo Credit: Depend®

Here the photo that I donated? Are you going to #dropyourpants for underwareness?


Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Deerly" Beloved DIY Cake Topper with Cricut Explore

This post is sponsored by Cricut and is part of Design Space Star

Unique cake toppers can be hard to find, and they can also be expensive. I am currently planning my own wedding and bridal shower, and it has been challenging to find pieces that I fall in love with. My teammates for Cricut's Design Space Star chose a "woodlands" party theme. I decided that would be a great opportunity to design a few potential pieces for my own wedding and bridal parties. I created a cake topper suitable for several occasions. It was inexpensive, quick, and different.  This isn't your typical "cookie cutter" cake topper. 

Image files needed:
  • Stag
  • Doe
  • Heart
  • Banner
  • Laurel 
  • Assorted heavy cardstock dependent on theme and color scheme 
  • Wooden dowels
  • Glue
  • Cricut Explore
  • Cricut Design Space installed on your computer 

Load the image files onto Cricut Design Space and cut them out on desired cardstock.
The length of your support dowel rods will be dependent on the thickness of your cake. I cut the dowel rods for my project 5 1/2 inches long. I began by gluing the stag and doe on the banner, taking care to center them as much as possible. I glued the laurel to the back of the banner, doe, and stag. I cut a small rectangular backing strip to fit across the back of the topper to cover the dowels. I glued the dowel to the back of the cake topper, and glued the rectangular backing over the dowels. I centered the heart and glued it to the front of the banner. I used a small book as a weight while the project dried. 

Here are a few extra ideas and tips:
  • You could use a single stag or doe silhouette for a baby shower.
  • Metallic cardstock is beautiful in person but does not photograph well.

I have also created matching cupcake wrappers and thank you bags, and I will show you those in a later post. 

Do you have any great DIY wedding or party ideas? I would love to know what you're making.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Stresses You Out? Hyland's 5-Day Stress Challenge

This post is sponsored by Hyland's 

Trying on wedding gowns after gaining
a few pounds is a stressful experience. 

This past year has been of the most stressful, but it has also been one of the most rewarding year’s of my life. I wrapped up a painful divorce, moved with my 4 year old son, changed careers, and gained a few pounds in the process. I also met an amazing man that I plan to marry in a few short months, and wedding planning has its own set of highs and lows.

There are so many factors that influence stress, and everyone handles stress differently. The only healthy way I knew to de-stress was to run, but I suffered a hip injury which completely prevented me from running for a few months. Personally I tend to overeat when I dealing with an unusual amount of stress. Chocolate becomes my “nerve pill”. The added calories makes me gain weight, and that just adds to my anxiety. Weight gain is rarely a good thing, and especially not before you get married.

This is why I am excited to participate in the Hyland’s 5-day Stress Challenge. I am hoping that if I can de-stress my life that I can gradually lose the weight I gained from stress eating.

What is the Hyland’s 5-day Stress Challenge? Hyland’s will feature daily challenges, and offer information about natural solutions for stress reduction and how to cope with stress on their Facebook page.

Participants will have a chance to win a Hyland’s  Stress Less Duo which includes Hyland’s Calms Forte and Hyland’s Nerve Tonic. Each day they will post a question about stress and ten winners will be chosen at random. On Saturday, October 4th one lucky participant will win the Grand Prize basket filled with various Hyland’s products and a $100 Spafinder gift card.

Registration for the challenge begins on Wednesday, September 17th at 1pm EST. The challenge begins on Monday, September 29th and ends Friday, October 3rd. The first 1,000 participants to register for the challenge will receive a 32 count box of Hyland’s Nerve Tonic®.

You can learn more about the Hyland’s 5-day Stress Challenge here.

What stresses you out? What do you do to cope with stress?