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Let me begin with a story...

     I was 18 years old and got hired at my first full time job working for Walgreens. The manager at the time was very customer oriented, to an extreme. He had a specific customer that would call into the store and give him a list of items they wanted. As soon as he collected and rang up all of the items, my manager would take their card information over the phone and complete the transaction. Sometimes this customer would pick up the items and sometimes my manager would drop them off at their home. I thought this was a bit much, but the customer was disabled and my manager had a big heart, so he just did it for them. This was about 14 years ago, and Walgreens has never offered a service like this. So don't go trying to get a personal shopper at your local Walgreens because it is not going to happen!

     However, Something AMAZING has happened over the past couple years... 

Online Ordering for groceries!!!
    
     Never have I ever... heard a mother of small children say, "I just absolutely LOVE grocery shopping with my kids." Add multiple kids and my love for grocery shopping goes away altogether. But do not dismay, there is hope! I have recently tried two types of online grocery shopping and would like to share a mom's perspective on these amazing services!!!

The first grocery shopping I tried was with Instacart.

    Instacart is a website and app that you can order your groceries from. You create an account, select the store you want to order groceries from and shop online. A local Instacart member gets your order, goes shopping for you, and delivers it to your door.  I first discovered Instacart when my sister-in-law began working for this company. She made decent money at first and it sparked my interest. I did realize, however, that the stores available to shop from were on the more expensive side. Stores that I like to go into for a good experience and pick up a few items, but not get my entire grocery list. (Wholefoods and Publix for example)
     One day I was browsing online (dangerous thing to do) when I saw an advertisement that said...


"Shop Aldi now on Instacart!"

     Or at least that was the gist of it! I decided that I would be willing to try it, just to see what it was. Plus, the thought of getting groceries delivered to my door was a fun idea. I went all in and did an entire week and a halves worth of grocery shopping, about $140 total.

Positives
  • My groceries were delivered in a couple of hours. 
  • The prices for the items were the same as in the store. 
  • I was notified every step of the way. Order assigned, shopping, checking out, and delivery.
  • The gentleman who brought my groceries carried them to the door and did not come inside.
  • My grocery shopping was done and I did not have to put a quarter in a cart and push my toddler through every isle of Aldi.
  • I saw a preliminary price. (Some produce needs to be weighed and meat may vary in price)
  • If an item is out of stock the person shopping can replace it with a like item or remove it from your total bill. You will get a notification. 
Negatives

  • It took a week for the final charge to come out of my bank account.
  • I had to pay for bags, which was not on my original total. (It's not a big expense, but Aldi charges for bags if you didn't know)
  • There was service/delivery fees.
  • Tipping your delivery person is recommended. Depending on how much you tip will determine how much your total bill will be. (This is not really a negative because you should always tip people who are doing a service for you. I'm more focusing on the extra expense that having your groceries delivered will incur.)

     Overall I had a positive experience. I spent about $20 in fees and tips, but I was happy not to go to the store and looked at it as the price to pay for the service that was offered. I may not use Instacart again anytime soon, but it was worth trying once! If you are interested in trying it for yourself, I have an invite code you are welcome to use and you will get money off of your first order. Just go to instacart.com to use it!
$10 off  your first Instacart order!
MARTRECHE1C91EA

     
     Now that I have told you about Instacart, I want to move on to my new favorite online grocery shopping experience... 

Walmart Grocery! 

     They do offer delivery, but I have only tried the grocery pickup and I loved it! My husband had mentioned that someone at our church uses Walmart pickup for her groceries and then I spoke to my best friend who lives in New Mexico who tried it as well. She loved just pulling up and having the groceries put into her car for her while her toddler sat happily in the back of the car. I figured I would give it a try. 
     If you are like me, I really try to avoid going to Walmart and don't even get me started on how uncomfortable I feel in their parking lot. I honestly had the best experience through Walmart Grocery and I feel like I may never set foot in that store for groceries again! I went all in on this order and spent $180 for one and a half weeks of groceries for my family of 5. I started by adding everything I wanted to my online cart. Things like produce and meat vary because they need to be weighed, but the prices cited were pretty accurate. It was such a luxury to piece together meal ideas while adding items to my cart and checking my pantry at home in the same moment! And guess what... I didn't forget one thing from the store because I was distracted by my children! After all that, I checked out just like I do when shopping for anything else online.

I even ordered beer and wine, just to see if I could. 
(They check your ID when you get there, so everything was very smooth!)

     I downloaded their app and got notifications when they were fulfilling my order and when it was ready. I checked in before I drove to the store and typed in what parking spot number I was in. (I was prompted by notifications on my phone every step of the way) All that was left was to sign for my order and I helped the lady load it into the back of my van. 

Positives
  • No extra fees. 
  • Prices are the same as offered in-store.
  • I avoided impulse buys and pushing my toddler around the store for an hour or more.
  • Money came straight out of my bank account as pending. Any changes posted the next business day. 
  • They automatically substituted an item that they were out of with a similar item and told me about it when I went to pick up. 
  • I could order beer and wine!
  • It took about 20 min from the time I left my house to the time I got home... for $180 worth of groceries! 
  • I got to select the time frame to go and pick up my groceries. 
  • My order was accurate. 
  • There were a lot of signs for pickup and the whole area was orange, so I had no question of where to go to pickup my order.
  • Did I say, NO EXTRA FEES!
Negatives
  • No time slots were available for same day pickup, so I ordered the day before I picked up.
  • I had to drive to pick it up, but not really a big negative.
  • They gave me green bananas. If you order produce, they might not pick what you would have picked if you were physically shopping.
  • I can't really think of anything else!
     Overall I loved Walmart Grocery! I also loved their Super Bowl 2019 commercial, but that's besides the point. To give it a try go to grocery.walmart.com or click on my link below to get a discount off your first order!

$10 off your first Walmart Grocery Click the link below!

     I will definitely order from Walmart Grocery again! I have had fun giving these online grocery services a try. It has given a me a new love for grocery shopping and offered an easy stress free option for all the moms out there. There's always the question of, "Is this just plain laziness?" NO! It is a blessing!





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The year was 2016.

     My youngest daughter was one year old and my body was not quite recovered from the weight gain of pregnancy. My clothes don't fit and I was way past the point of wearing my comfy maternity clothes. (no judgments here...you know you did it too!)  
     
     An old friend sent me a Facebook invite to join her LuLaRoe group. That was the first time I had ever heard of the clothing brand. The concept of this brand was pretty simple. Their slogan is "Simply Comfortable" and little did I know how true this was until I purchased my first pair of leggings and a shirt to match! 
     
     The buying process was fun! Scrolling through the photos in the group, the first one to comment sold got it! The prints were cute and hunting for your favorite prints was appealing to me. As I got more into the idea of LuLaRoe, the more groups I joined and the more unique prints I bought.


     Info Break...LuLaRoe is one of those small businesses that I would compare to Origami Owl, Avon, Paparazzi, etc. The people who sell LuLaRoe do not get to choose the prints they carry. They buy the clothing at a discounted rate and resell it for a profit.

     My first LuLaRoe order totaled $60! I tried on my new clothes and was totally in love with how they felt. Buttery soft leggings and a "Perfect" t-shirt. That was the beginning of a clothing obsession. Over the next year I purchased nearly 30 pieces of clothing at full price.

 I have always been a thrifty person, but my judgement went out the window

     For some reason spending $25 on a pair of leggings was not an issue as long as I got a cute print that was hard to find. I started buying my kids clothes, which cost very similar to the adult's clothing. All four girls had matching LuLaRoe dresses for Easter. I even bought my husband a shirt, which kind of became a running joke because of the name "LuLaBro", that referred to the men's clothing. I asked for Leggings for Christmas and my birthday. It all seemed fine, but looking back at it, I was out of control! 

Don't get me wrong, I am all for treating myself, but it was just too much!

     Eventually, local LuLaRoe consultants started donating their worst sellers to thrift stores. I was told it was to assist with taxes that needed to be paid at the end of the year. I swooped in and started buying it up. It was some relief on my wallet, and my desire to buy new LuLaRoe was satisfied.

2016-2018 was a time of hardships, milestones, and re-discovery of myself. 

Fast forward to 2018.

     Approximately 80% of my closet was made up of LuLaRoe clothing. I had a closet full of what I call my "Stay-at-home mom clothes". I was content with the comfort, but the thought of thousands of women, owning the exact same style of clothes in different prints began to bother me. Everywhere I looked, someone was wearing LuLaRoe!

It made me feel less like an individual and more like a group participant.

     I decided to go back to college the Summer of 2018. Leave it to an encounter with a younger crowd to show you how important individuality can be. 

     I began wanting to find different pieces that were more flattering, more edgy, more exciting. Things with exciting necklines, different fabrics, fun embellishments!
What i hadn't realized was that I had no clue how to dress my body type and was resorting to the one size fits most mentality of LuLaRoe! 

What a freeing revelation! 

     I started loving my body, loving my curves, and enjoying the hunt for clothing that was unique to my style.  I decided that even though I may spend twice as much on a pair of good jeans, they make me feel better and stay together longer than my favorite pair of leggings. I began passing up the leggings at the thrift store and started enjoying the other options. I have found my favorite jeans made by Torrid and found them at a discounted price, which was more exciting than finding a crazy legging print. 

     Though I still lounge around in my LuLaRoe clothing at home and wear some of my crazier prints when I help with the preschool at church, I have come a long way in style over the past year!

I have discovered the importance of looking good and feeling more confident as a result. 

     It may seem shallow to you reading this. I am not saying that everyone should focus solely on their appearance. I know that there are many women who stay at home and get into a rut that eventually starts swallowing up their identity and shoves them into thinking that a mom is all they are. If someone would have told me that I would loose my sense of self after becoming a stay at home parent, I would have laughed. It's just a reality that I experienced first hand. 

For me a little style change has gone a long way.



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My slightly tattered copy of  Sharp Objects.

Darkly Dysfunctional. 
If I could choose a phrase to describe this book it would be darkly dysfunctional.

Everyday for about a week  straight, while searching for shows on my Amazon Fire TV Stick, 
the preview for HBO series Sharp Objects auto-played at the top of my television screen.
It looked like something I would be interested in. I love murder mysteries, dark stories, anything weird or twisted. There was one problem...
I don't have HBO!
Fast forward to the next week...
While shopping for back to school clothes we stopped by the bathroom at Barnes & Noble,
(my children must go to the bathroom at least three times while we are at the mall)
There it was again...

Sharp Objects : A Novel by Gillian Flynn
I am not a big book reader, but I am trying to read more. 
It was basically being shoved in my face, so I gave in and bought it. 
I figured it would be more detailed than the television series, so I win!

************Spoiler Alert!!!************

I am going to do my best not to spoil much of the story, because I hate that! 
I may reveal a bit of the story, so if you really don't want any heads up, then scroll down and share this post to spoil it for others. I will not spoil the ending!

Okay, now back to the topic at hand.
I love mystery and thriller books!
The beginning of the book drew me in. 

Camille Preaker, a reporter in Chicago, is assigned to  
write about a murder case unfolding in her small, gossipy, hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri.
Camille has a haunted past and let me just say...
  Being raised by her deranged mother definitely didn't help.

The odd traits and stories about the characters unfold as you read in an intertwining and twisted story.  
As one murder turns into two, turns into three, turns into four, I was pulled in by the main character's detailed point of view.
 It was hard to put this book down!
The emotions that Gillian Flynn, the author, invoked through her writing, were crazy! 
While reading I felt curious, shocked, intrigued, disgusted, mad, confused, shocked, disgusted again, worried, sad, then finally at ease and right back to mad... with many other feelings in between!

Reading this as a mother was everything!

 I think I was more drawn in because of it. 
The initial murder, the one that Camille was sent to report on, was of a girl about the age of my oldest daughter. I felt the pain of the family and it kind of freaked me out. 
Camille's mother was a mother of three girls, and so am I.
I really despised Camille's mother, Adora.

On a side note, to anyone that has read this story, I love that her mother's name was Adora. 
Adore means to love someone deeply and that's what she was after the whole time!

In the end, I was confident I knew who did it, and then was completely wrong!

I was excited to read a twist ending. I am a huge fan of twist endings!

I feel I have already said to much, without really saying much about the story at all!
 Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was dark and deranged and had a great murder mystery story! 
I was a bit surprised to find out that this was written in 2006 and re-released because of the HBO series.
I wish I would have read it sooner!
I would 100% recommend this book, but be aware, it is pretty dark and disturbing.

  




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3201 Corinne Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

A 5 star rated date night in the books!
Frankly, because date nights are rare, I rate them all 5 stars. My husband and I have been on a "try new things on date night" kick for a while and I am on a mission to share our findings with everyone!   

     We live about 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, Fl. There are so many options for date nights in the city and all around Orlando. Exploring those options is a good way to experience new things, find new favorite places, and create new memories together.


     Before our date, I had never heard of East End Market or the restaurant DOMU. My husband has a friend at work who always texts him photos of food. Why? I don't know. After a few food texts from DOMU, and a raving review articulated to my husband, at work, we decided to try it out.

DOMU is a modern Asian restaurant that is known for their authentic Ramen and tasty cocktails. 

     Now, I know what you are thinking... what could possibly be so exciting, it's just Ramen.
I'm going to shut you down right now! They make their own noodles and use fresh ingredients. Their Ramen isn't even in the same universe as the Maruchan Ramen that you have a love/hate relationship with.

     According to their website, www.domufl.com , they "... do not do take out as requested by the chef to maintain the integrity and quality of the food." The quality of their food is excellent in my opinion! This brings me to another statement on their website. Something that is really good to know before you even think about eating there. "Please note that we do not accept reservations or call-aheads for equal opportunity dining; first come, first serve basis." If you are going on the weekend, just be prepared. The wait will be long! Don't be discouraged there are things to do while you wait!

     We failed on our first trip to eat at DOMU.
     We weren't prepared to wait an hour and a half to eat! Our second attempt was more successful because we were mentally prepared.  We arrived and went directly to the front desk to get our name on the waiting list. Our wait was 2 hours and they handed us a pager, #55. They also use an app that tells you how long you have waited and the wait times for the parties ahead of you. The wait time was almost exact, if you were wondering. They also request that your party is 6 people or less. The reason for this is that their dining room is small, very small.

If waiting 2 hours seems a bit much, let me explain why it is more than okay!

Full Bar at DOMU Orlando, Fl

     We snagged two seats at their bar located right inside the doors. They have a full bar and some really interesting cocktails on the menu! We ordered two fancy drinks each at the bar and spent some time people watching. I did notice that some people were eating at the bar. I'm not sure if you can order from the full menu at the bar, but you can definitely order appetizers. We wanted the full experience, but I figure it is worth mentioning. 
     
     The drinks were fancy and priced about $8 and up. Date night is sometimes splurge night, we treat ourselves! We each ordered different drinks and taste tested them! They were fancy compared to the basic drinks I would normally order and it was fun exploring different flavors!


Lychee Martini & Honeydew Me
     After hanging at the bar for a while we had a lot of time left to wait! We decided to walk down to a music store, a few blocks down the street, that we used to frequent in high school called Park Ave CD's. We walked around, goofed off, and decided to return our original location to explore East End Market. It is a quaint building that boasts a handful of small local businesses. Some things you may find within include a bakery, cold pressed juice, homemade sauces, a plant shop, a wine and local craft beer bar, fresh organic coffee, handmade items. Basically very hip, modern, natural, and trendy things!

East End Market Entrance
Inside the doors of East End Market

     We decided to get one more drink before going to eat. We were at the 100 min mark and only had about 20 minutes until we were supposed to be seated. I ordered a grapefruit juice mimosa, my husband got a craft beer, and we went and sat at picnic tables outside overlooking their edible garden that they have onsite. The garden was quite over grown and I really wanted to go and prune some of the plants. It was pretty neat to see the edible flowers and, on a side note, I really wanted to try them! 
Time flew by and we were enjoying each other's company. East End Market is small, but it is packed with character. 

We pulled up DOMU's menu online and decided what we were going to order ahead of time. 

     Their full menu isn't very big and all of the prices are posted on their website, which makes me love them even more! When our buzzer went off, we still had our drinks. They allowed us to bring them with us, which was nice because we didn't have to order drinks with our dinner. They also had cold water waiting for us on the table. 

     At a glance their dining area is not really special. Very simplistic. Small tables and some cool art on the back wall. Modern, kind of. I don't know, I am reviewing my date more than their restaurant's atmosphere. We were there for the food, anyway. I think that the area's outside the dining area were a lot more interesting. You could see inside the kitchen, which is always pretty cool. 

We didn't have to wait long while our food was prepared and when it came we were very impressed!

Richie Rich (bottom) & Uni Mazemen (top)
     You could taste the freshness. The meat was melt in your mouth and everything was very flavorful! I opted for the one with a butter sauce and it was very good, but after tasting my husband's I decided that his was much better! Oh and by the way, no forks here people. Chopsticks all the way! It adds an authentic Asian feel to your meal and I always feel more accomplished finishing my meal with chopsticks. My hands were stronger as a result.

Our date lasted about 3 hours and then it was time to pick up our kids!

     Overall, I would recommend East End Market and DOMU for a date night. I am a sucker for little places like this! If you are prepared for the wait and know what to expect it is much more enjoyable! Of coarse the company of my husband was a huge factor in making this a fun and interesting date night. We were forced to explore and converse to kill the time, which was great for us! We got to slow down and just enjoy our time together. 

In the end we were more relaxed, were full from our amazing meals, and super excited that we had discovered a new place together.















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I Mopped My Walls! 
Yes... You read that right... 
I Mopped My Walls!
      



Summer is over and now it is finally time to get my house back. The simple fact that I had to mop my walls, is just a small insight into what summer vacation does to my house. If don't already know, I am a stay at home mom and I have three
children ages 3, 7, and 9 going on 16. 
Our typical summer plays out as follows:




Mom (me): "Finally, I get to sleep in!"
Kids: "Finally, we get to stay up late and
           wake Mom up early!"
Mom: "I think I am going to have my kids
            work on these workbooks and read
            everyday. They are going to be
           so much smarter at the beginning of
           the school year!"
Kids: "Screw Moms idea of workbooks and reading. We are going
           to complain until she gives up and just lets us go watch
           YouTube."
Mom: "I'm going to stock up on snacks and easy microwave 
            things so the kids can make some stuff on their own for
            breakfast and lunch."
Kids: "It's a food fest!" (My seven year old actually told my
           grandmothers this)
Mom: "I am going to emphasize allowance and give them more 
            chances to earn money by doing extra things around the
            house."
Kids: "Fool, I don't clean for no one." (extra reading is really
           helping their grammar, as you can see!)
Mom: "I am going crazy! Apparently the beginning of June is my
            limit. I am seriously going crazy!" (actual quote)
Mom: "Why the hell do school supplies cost so much!" 

The dialogue could go on and on.

All kidding aside, we really did have a great summer. I loved spending time with my kids! We vacationed with friends in North Carolina. We spent lots of time with family. We lounged around. We planted things. We went to parks and birthday parties. We went to the beach. Swimming and eating ice cream were frequent happenings. Play dates with friends and just plain relaxing topped it all off! 
I even went back to school and Aced my English class!
However, now comes the real peace. 
My big kids are in school learning and socializing.
My little one is having fun having Mom to herself
and I kicked the school year off with mopping the walls!

So congrats to all you awesome moms and dad's. We did it! Another summer vacation for the books. 
Enjoy having your house, your refrigerator, your television and your sanity back!





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