Eye Give Back

Wondering how you can take care of your vision and help a child in need of vision care? One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem. Right now, when you purchase an individual vision insurance plan from VSP Direct™ for as low as $17/month, a child in need receives a free eye exam and glasses, up to a retail value of $1 million. Find out more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack. Thanks to VSP for sponsoring this post.

Being able to see all the things that are going on right in front of me is a blessing. Like when my children smile and it gets me all tingly inside (oh I should have warned you there would be mushy stuff in this one) when they scrunch their noses and and I can tell from the look on their  faces that something is off. I am so grateful to see that so I can do my best to fix it. Without my vision I would miss all those little things and we haven’t even talked about the big things. Their vision is just as important to me.

With good vision, anything is possible. Your vision is one of your most valuable assets, don’t lose sight of protecting it. Have you thought about Vision Insurance?  The ability to see the world is less costly than you think. Vision protection can help you see the world in a new light. VSP® Vision Care is the largest not-for-profit company that offers vision benefits and services in the US. They have launched a program called #EyeGiveBack and now through June 30, 2015 when a VSP Direct™ individual vision insurance plan is purchased through VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack, VSP will be donating an eye exam and glasses to a child in need (up to a retail value of $1 million)! You can learn more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBack where they are committed to building a better future for children in need!


Master Jones
VSP® Vision Care Coverage Includes: 

– Covers the eye exam with a low co-payment
– Provides allowance for glasses or contacts, fully covered lens options
– Cost is as low as $17 per month
– Lowest out-of-pocket cost in vision care with a typical annual savings of $227
– 100% satisfaction guaranteed
– 30,000 providers in convenient locations makes VSP the largest doctor network in the industry

Master Jones
Our youngest child (handsome little thing isn’t he?) was recently diagnosed with vision problems during a routine eye screening.  He’s now the proud owner of some pretty cool blue and what I can only describe as toolbox patterned glasses. I also think he looks awfully like a younger version of Bobby Bones. I think we’ve just found this year’s Halloween costume. With his new glasses, he’s able to see more clearly and in turn is more confident. Making me a happy Mamma.

He’s not alone. Did you know that  ONE in four children has an undetected vision problem? That about 20% of children struggle to read because of vision problems? True. By age five all children should have completed three eye exams, but 76% of kids are still not meeting that benchmark. Ten million American students have vision conditions that can impact learning and a simple annual comprehensive eye exam can ensure that correctable visual problems don’t become permanent. Sounds easy right?

#EyeGiveBack is part of the VSP Direct™ commitment to building a better future for children in need. They’re in the business of helping people see, and your individual plan purchase means free eye exams and glasses, up to a retail value of $1 million, to help a child in need see what’s possible. #EyeGiveBack means we all give back.

Right now through June 30, 2015, for every individual vision plan purchased, VSP Direct™ will donate an eye exams and glasses to children in need, up to a retail value of $1 million. See the possibilities with #EyeGiveBack.

To see FAQs for #EyeGiveBack, visit this site: https://cdn.shoutlet.com/file/11616/2802804.pdf . To learn more about #EyeGiveBack watch this video below!

What’s the most beautiful sight YOU’VE ever seen?


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by VSP. I was compensated for my time. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.

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Enhance Your Water With DASANI DROPS

DaSani Drops
I try to drink A LOT of water each day and encourage my family to as well. I like to stay hydrated, my body feels better when I do and I think my skin looks better too. Now drinking all that water and getting my kids to as well isn’t always an easy task. How do I get around that? I add a little flavor to said water and now, just like magic, we’ve got a whole new outlook on drinking the daily recommended water. DASANI DROPS are a great way to enhance your water anytime, anwhere. It’s UNSWEETENED, naturally flavored, with no color added and has ZERO calories. DASANI DROPS comes in two inspired flavors: Lime and Strawberry Basil (my favorite of the two). One 1.9 fl. oz. bottle measures up to 32 servings! 

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Starting off the New Year With #FitTeaDetox

Fit Tea

It’s a New Year. That’s means resolutions right? Did you make any resolutions? I have to tell you I’m not a resolutions girl. I do however like to set GOALS for myself. One of my goals is to MOVE more. To be ACTIVE and often. Which should ultimately give me more energy and help my clothes to loosen up. I’m not alone in my goal if the parking lots at the gym and the sheer amount of workout clothes that are on SPECIAL at every retail store I enter are any indication.

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Easy Mirror Make Over

Metallic Painted Bedroom Mirror
I’m not what would you call a cheap skate. At least I don’t think I am. Frugal. That’s a much better word. I like a good deal what can I say. I LOVE saving money as much as the next person. If I can make something (or more accurately if Pinterest makes me think I can make something) save a buck and not pull my hair out in the process I’m all in. I’ve wanted to add a piece of mirrored wall art to our bedroom for a while now. I’ve been smitten with one that I saw at a Gallerie that starts with a Z forever now. Problem? It’s $255. I just couldn’t swipe my card. Couldn’t. I think I found something just as awesome and I spent 1/4 of that making minor modifications myself. Yay me.  I’m always amazed at how quickly you can transform just about anything with a simple can of SPRAY PAINT. I figure if I don’t like something, I’ll just paint it again. No problemo. In other news I might be addicted to metallic spray paint ever since we finished our DIY GLITTER RIMMED MASON JARS . I could be addicted to worse things so I’m thinking it’s no so bad after all.

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DIY Glitter Rimmed Mason Jars

DIY Glitter Rimmed Mason Jars

We’re getting our GLITTER on today! Literally, it’s in all the places. BUT these jars are so gorgeous I’m going to ignore the fact that I now look like a disco ball. They are absolutely perfect for not only the holidays (these will so be gracing my New Year’s Eve Table) but I can even see these for birthdays, weddings, engagement parties okay pretty much for anything and everything that you want to add a little sparkle to. You do want to sparkle don’t you?

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Easy Under Sink Organization

Under Sink Cabinet After
My under the sink cabinet was a HOT MESS prior to this organization project. Had I known how quick and easy it was to get that unorganized black whole of cleaning products storage that I had organized, I would have done this a long time ago. All I needed was a quick trip to Lowe’s Home Improvement. 3 items and about a half hour later and I’m sitting pretty and am actually able to find the granite cleaner that I didn’t know I had. Once I actually pulled everything out from underneath the cabinet (and there were a lot of bottles) I found that I had duplicates of many products. 3 bottles of glass cleaner (I rarely even clean my windows, yes I just admitted that), 2 boxes of Brillo pads, and more bottles of air freshener that I could use in half a year. Now I know.

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Mixed Food Conference 2014 Ticket GIVEAWAY!


Mountain Lake Lodge
In case you haven’t heard, my friend Susan and I organize a food conference called Mixed. It’s a small boutique conference for approximately 100 food lovers bloggers that is held at Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia. You might recognize it from the movie Dirty Dancing. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading right now and look it up on Netflix, or Amazon Prime (what would I do without that) and then come back when you’re done because you don’t want to miss out on this GIVEAWAY! Not to be pushy or anything (because I would never ever do that would I) but it is one of the best movies of all time right underneath Pitch Perfect of course. We will actually be showing Dirty Dancing and another chicken flick (what’s your favorite? We’re open to suggestions) each night at the conference because we like to have just as much fun as we do learning. Pajamas and pillows are encouraged.

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DIY Gourd Candles

DIY Gourd Candles
I’m kinda crazy for all things squash (I eat it, every variety I can get my hands on, and often) so it was only natural that I looked to the gourd family to inspire a little fall table-scape. I don’t like to go to any grand effort to dress up my tables but I do like to do something small and in season. That something for me needs to be: easy and LOW profile. There’s nothing more irritating to me during a meal (other than over cooked food and that’s just a given) than to have to bob and weave around a large centerpiece to try and have a conversation with your family or guests. Hence LOW profile.

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DIY Chalkboard Door


Chalboard Door

I like organization. I wish my family had the same like of organization as I do but unless I break out the drill sergeant voice sigh they do not. I try to keep our main living area in order (not necessarily spotless mind you because who has time for that – just tidy and picked up, everything in their places) and I simply avoid the basement and upstairs as much as possible. It helps keep me sane. You can call it avoidance if you want. Lets not split hairs. A small thing I’ve done in my kitchen to keep my grocery list organized (no more notes laying around) is to paint a raised section of our kitchen door with chalkboard paint. I can’t tell you how much this has saved me from forgetting ingredients. When we’re out of something we grab the chalk and add it to the list. Done. It’s on the door so it’s not taking up any coveted counter space or my lack of kitchen wall space. Besides being used primary as our running GROCERY LIST, it’s a creative way to showcase your DINNER MENU or even DOODLING for the kids.  Multi-purpose. It’s a good thing.

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DIY Chalkboard Pails

DIY Chalkboard Pail
It’s back to school month around our neck of the woods !!! Yes I used three exclamation marks. I’m excited. The kids, not so much. They do however get excited about back to school shopping. I must admit I kinda get going myself about calendars, pencils, pens and the like. I’m old school in that way. I love to actually WRITE things in my calendar. As much as I love technology (and I really really do as my iphone is practically attached to my hip) there’s just something about putting pen (ehem or pencils) to paper.

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DIY Slip and Slide

DIY Slip and Slide
Slip and slides were a part of my childhood. Every summer we’d go through several of them. We were rough and tough and usually after a few days of hard core competition they were torn to shreds. I was a sparkly tom boy (if that’s even a thing). We had the best time slipping and sliding all across the yard. Seeing who could go the fastest and the furthest. More times than not I came out the winner. I had a mean competitive streak and would practice my sliding until I was a raisin. Practice pays off.

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DIY Outdoor Serving Tray

Outdoor Serving Tray

Now that the weather is warm we spend a lot of time on our deck, which is located directly off our kitchen and faces our backyard. We’re fortunate to have a decent size deck that houses our container garden, a sitting area plus a dining table with umbrella and chairs. When the weather permits, we like to enjoy our family meals on the deck as well as entertain in this space. The deck overlooks our backyard which is heavily wooded and I can pretend that I’m in a tree house. One that just so happens to have plumbing. I’m not really the camping type, have I mentioned that?

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Get Your Garden Growing

Miracle-Gro Gro-ables www.bellalimento.com
A few weeks ago we got our started our container using Miracle-Gro Gro-Ables. Gro-ables are seed pods that provide an ideal growing environment for your seed. Each ready-to-plant seed pod contains growing materials, plant food and a specially selected seed from one of 17 different varieties including basil, spinach, cilantro, dill, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes and more. All you need to do is plant your seed, water and enjoy watching it grow into something greater. Easy right?

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Front Door Decor

Front Door Decor www.bellalimento.com

It is finally spring! I can’t tell you how excited I am for sunshine, my garden and flowers! I’ve slowly been spring cleaning the inside of our house and now it’s time to focus on the outside. My front yard is let’s just say very natural. Our lot is extremely shady due to the amount of trees (practically a forest) we have. Trees mean lots of leaves to rake and limbs to pick up.  On top of the piles of leaves and limbs, we also many many LARGE rocks (boulder size) peppered throughout the front yard. I’m thinking they were too large to move when the lot was being graded and someone thought they looked good (read not me). Sadly because of the shade we don’t have a ton of grass in the front yard besides a small patch by the mailbox. Cutting down trees (to allow more sunshine) is expensive so we’re looking into other ways to add pops of color and improve our curb appeal.

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Upcycled Outdoor Herb Garden

DIY Palette Herb Organizer www.bellalimento.com

As one who cooks a great deal (okay a boat load) it’s important to me that I ALWAYS have fresh herbs nearby. In the spring and summer I typically grow them in containers on my deck which is right off my kitchen. It’s convenient and I’m able to make a mad dash mid cooking to snip exactly what I need. What’s not convenient are the oh say 18 or so containers that I have around every square inch of the perimeter of my deck. It’s kinda out of control. Until I discovered I could turn a palette into an awesome vertical outdoor herb garden.

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How to Improve Your Portrait Photography


I’m of the opinion that you always have more to learn. Taking classes is a great way to do that. One thing I’m always striving to improve is my photography. While I have come a LONG way since I started my blog five years ago I still am not where I would like to be. Have you heard of the website Craftsy? They offer online classes that are taught by world renowned instructors. Since Craftsy classes are ONLINE they’re available to you anytime (read you can take them in your pajamas) you want for as long as you want, there are no scheduled class times, so you can enjoy them entirely on your own schedule. Each class is taught by an acclaimed instructor and consists of several hours of HD-quality video content.

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Adding a Pop of Pantone Color

Pantone Radiant Orchid

Do you know what Valspar’s Pantone color of the year is? It’s Radiant Orchid. “Radiant Orchid blooms with confidence and magical warmth that intrigues the eye and sparks the imagination. It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple—one that draws you in with its beguiling charm. A captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid emanates great joy, love and health” 

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Bring on Brunch

Brunch Food Collage www.bellalimento.comThis post brought to you by Starbucks. Opinions are my own.

Brunch is the perfect easy entertaining scenario. I like brunch because there’s not as much pressure as there would be say hosting a dinner party. Plus there’s COFFEE, lots and lots of COFFEE. Something everyone who knows me knows I’m very passionate about. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind us now is actually the perfect time to host a casual brunch for friends and family. To catch up, chat about this and that and consume copious amounts of coffee and culinary creations. That’s exactly what I did last weekend.

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Cooking with Kids


Sometimes it isn’t WHAT you’re making in the kitchen that’s important – its that you’re in there with your family and friends MAKING memories that you will treasure for a lifetime. Now that’s important. Cooking shouldn’t be a scary process. Just get in there and have fun. So what IF you burn dinner (it happens to all of us). You have a laugh, make a sandwich or go out for dinner. Well unless it’s $25 lb diver scallops and then it’s okay to shed a few tears. But let’s not talk about that. Cooking isn’t rocket science (thank goodness because that I’m NO good at). Nobody starts out being an excellent cook. Being good at cooking is like being good at anything else. Practice makes perfect, at least with this kind of practice you get a snack.

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DIY Play Dough

DIY Play Dough www.bellalimento.com

My kids just went back to school from Christmas break. Despite having many new toys to play with thanks to Santa they still expected wanted to be entertained. Since I absolutely suck at wii games (with the exception of bowling where I rule) and I made more Rainbow Loom bracelets than I care to admit (double fishtail anyone?), I needed a back up plan. One that was preferably on the cheap and didn’t require me to leave the house (have you seen the traffic). In comes homemade play dough.

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