Nicole Q.

Nicole is an Army wife and mother of three kiddos ages 14, 11 & 8, 3 cats, and a spoiled dog. When not blogging, she is usually found in the kitchen (creating masterpieces or disasters, it's always a toss-up) or hiding in the bedroom trying to read "just one more chapter" before the kids burn the house down. She's a little bit crafty, a lot nerdy, and has huge opinions on just about everything. And no, she will not fix your computer for you. Google

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Oct 212014
 

(This is very personal, and somewhat hard for me to put out there, but I don’t hold back on anything else, so the same should apply to this subject…)

A few days ago I was having a conversation with a fellow blogger about a conference she was headed to. I’m always in awe of all the traveling my friends get to do, and this was no exception. She was flying from Pennsylvania out to California for the Fresh Summit Expo, a definite destination spot for a food blogger. I wistfully watched her tweets during the amazing event. And then, I felt like a loser.

I have to say, I adore this friend for being a straight-shooter, but when she told me, “you’re never going to be successful if you don’t leave the house,”  well, that stung. The truth hurts sometimes. 
 
I don’t really have any grand excuses why I haven’t gone to any blog conferences in the last number of years. They look amazing. I would love to connect face to face with so many of the wonderful talented women (and ok, some men) that I’ve met online. I just… I can’t. The mere thought of walking into an event where I don’t know another soul is enough to make me reach for the Xanax bottle and start my deep breathing exercises. 
 
I’ve tried, well, kind of. Two years ago I unrelentingly pursued a specific niche company for a sponsorship to the Type A Parent conference in Atlanta, GA. I was confident in my communications with them, and they came back with a “sure, set it up” response. All I had wanted had come true - I was covered for an event I really wanted to attend. I was going to see a state I had never been to! I was going to fly! 
 
Insert record scratching sound here.
 
It didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. The prospect of flying (I have never flown) was both exciting and terrifying, and ultimately the terror won out.
 
See? I’m such a dork.
 
Last year I was super excited because iRetreat was going to be held in Hershey, PA, which is only about an hour or so from me. I was STOKED. This was my home turf! No flying required.  I confidently purchased the early bird tickets and excitedly waited for the summer to arrive.
 
And then I stayed home.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I have a number of really great friends who truly GET me. They understand the way anxiety works, that it’s not made up, and that there are some occasions that I just can’t push through. Unfortunately that’s not the case with everyone. I often hear “anxiety? You don’t have anxiety! You’re one of the most outgoing people I know!” Yeah, I do have anxiety, and it messes up my life. Just because I’m generally a cheerful, optimistic person, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with doing even the simplest things like calling the dentist.
 
So, I’ve set a goal for myself for the next season of blog conferences. I am going to attend one, for real. I am going to surround myself with a support system who understands that maybe it IS hard for me, but they love me anyway. I’m going to forge new friendships, and connect with brands, and fulfill my potential.
 
One baby step at a time.
 
Oct 152014
 
Prize: 
3 Teach My Learning Kits
 Prize Value: $120
 
Hosted by:
A Lucky Ladybug
and 
Make Our Own Network

Teach My, award winning all-in-one learning kits for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. No need to spend hundreds of dollars going to several stores buying individual teaching tools, Teach My kits provide everything necessary for learning the basics, all in a portable and storable case.Did you know you can find Teach My products at Toys ‘R’ Us Stores across the USA and online at most big box retailers?

This giveaway is open to the Continental US only (because of shipping costs) and will end on October 30th, 2014.  Good Luck!!
 
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Oct 102014
 

zombie-gift-guide

Christmas is in 75 days, and frankly, I don’t want to think about that yet. So with the season of Halloween upon us (and the beginning of the new season of Walking Dead) I would much rather present you with a curated list of gifts for the zombie lover in your life.

I want to hear some “Merry Halloween!” action happening, people. Stat.

1. Keep your tootsies toasty with these Mens Zombie 5-Pack Crew Socks ($15) from Journeys. Because it’s an odd number, you can mix and match which you wear. Or you can be a pain in the butt like my kid and buy two sets.

2. Nothing says “you’re my bestie, and I wouldn’t trip you during the zombie apocalypse” like this two piece Zombie Friendship Necklace ($29.99) from Think Geek.

3. Keep your lip-gloss and hand grenades in this gorgeous Dead Crazy Tote ($40) from Iron Fist Clothing.

4. Spice up your dull family room with this Zombie Girl in Garden 24×32 Art Print by johnnymoreno ($50) Other sizes are available, too.

5. Why play Monopoly when you can break out this The Walking Dead Card Game ($11) for you and up to 9 of your friends? 

6. In this house, I’m the Queen of the Kitchen, and frankly, with this Zombie BBQ Apron ($25) from RW2Gallery on Etsy, you’ll scare everyone out of your kitchen too.

7. If you’re going to wear slippers, go big or go home, right? These Zombie Plush Slippers ($32) will keep your feet cozy AND scare the kids. Win!

Sep 262014
 
Prize: 
3 Teach My Learning Kits
 Prize Value: $120
Hosted by:
A Lucky Ladybug
and 
Make Our Own Network

Sign-ups close 10/13

Click HERE to sign up and for more html info.

 

M.O.O.N. has now added several perks/discounts for frequent participation in our events but you must be a member of our Facebook group to be eligible.  Please visit the M.O.O.N. group if you are a blogger and would like more information regarding these perks and other group events.

**If you are a company and would like to see your brand advertised in a M.O.O.N. event similar to this or a Blogger interested in working with M.O.O.N. please contact MakeOurOwnNetwork@gmail.com

Sep 092014
 

It’s September. The flip flops have been unceremoniously discarded in the corner, the bathing suits and beach towels safely stowed until next year, and the air is crackling with the excitement of a new school year. For us, it’s been extra special, as the kids are in their first year of public school after being cyber schooled for the last five years.

Being the new kid isn’t the easiest, I get it. Thankfully, we timed our move during the transitional time between elementary and middle school for one of them, and middle school and high school for the other. While they may not know anyone, at least they’re swimming in a sea of other kids who may not really know anyone either. The youngest is in third grade this year, still young enough that soon the other kids won’t ever remember him being “the new kid.” They seem to all be settling in, learning their routines and meeting new friends. It’s been a positive experience.

I, on the other hand, am struggling just a little.

It’s hard to send your kids off to school after having them under a protective wing for so long - except, that’s not the part I’m having a hard time with.

It’s the moms.

Yep, the moms.

I’m quirky. I’m loud. I make jokes that people might not always get. In short, I’m socially awkward.

I have a really hard time just walking up to a group of parents and introducing myself. It’s not that I’m snobby or uninterested in making friends with the other parents - it’s that often times I have zero idea what to contribute to a conversation. Do you want to discuss last nights episode of Doctor Who? I’m totally your girl. Complain about General Mills taking over our beloved organic brand Annie’s? Let’s kvetch! But if you’re going to talk about sports or reality television, I will be completely lost. So, it’s easier to not engage. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, it means I’m terrified of looking like a totally socially inept loser.

We so often tell our children that they should be kind and inclusive to others, sometimes it’s easy to forget that we should do the same thing.

Take pity on me (and others), mamas. When you see a new parent at the bus stop who looks like a deer in the headlights - use the conversational equivalent of Switzerland as a topic - their kids. Every mom wants to talk about their kids. Talk to them about events at school, so that they can ask questions on how things work. Clue them in that NOBODY likes to buy lunch on pasta day because the sauce tastes like dirty dishwater. Just include them. Our kids aren’t the only ones trying to fit in.

Aug 192014
 

The Punky Family Heads Back to Brick & Mortar

So many things have changed recently. When we decided to send the kids to cyber school, it was because we were quite possibly in the world’s worst school district. It wasn’t just academics, it was the whole “hey, don’t get stabbed while you’re there, huh?” vibe which permeates everything. I mean, our crime index put us at 12%. That’s you know… safer than 12% of cities in the US (which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that also means 88% of the US is safer than Allentown - uhm, ok.)

Our particular neighborhood wasn’t bad exactly, but crime was inching out of downtown slowly and surely. My van had been shot or vandalized on more than one occasion - in fact, I still have a small bullet hole in my windshield that we brought with us to the suburbs. We had things routinely stolen when we had forgetful moments about locking them up tight. We even had a Shop Vac stolen (really, I can’t make this crap up) right before our move. It was on our back porch and to my knowledge, full of bees. I hope they had fun with that. We also had a rather delightful (no sarcasm there, he was a nice guy, unfortunately his clientele was not) drug dealer move in across the street. Yep, it was time to go.

After the kids being home for school for 5 years, we decided it was time for them to go back amongst their peers. Don’t get me wrong - I’m not a fan of the concept of common core, on any level, but it was going to end up in their cyber school curriculum anyway. I went to public school, and turned out just fine. After much searching, debate, and weighing options, we settled on the district we wanted to be in. It was the district I graduated from, and one that several of our friends already live in.  After many months of prepping, showing, selling, buying, moving, and complete insanity — they will be starting school on September 2, 2014. Yay!

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and the year hasn’t even begun yet.

Just imagine, when your little one starts kindergarten, you start to learn the ropes of being the parent of a school-age child. You learn their school, the teachers, the rules, the schedule. One day at a time. Then maybe you have another little one who starts kindergarten a few years later. By then, you’re an old pro at that. Making lunches, bus schedules, and parents nights are easy peasy and you can handle a classroom birthday party or addressing last minute Valentines with your eyes closed. Well, I’m (we’re) being dumped into three schools unceremoniously and simultaneously. One in grade school, one in middle school, one in high school. Can you tell I’m freaking out a little bit?

School clothes? School supplies? Gym bags? School lunches? Bus stops? Snow Days? Clubs? Electives?

Hold me.

Jul 212014
 

(You guys know I don’t usually push press releases, but this is a great cause and I wanted to share with you!)

 

tourdeshore_logo

RECORD-BREAKING 2000 BICYCLISTS WILL PEDAL FROM PHILADELPHIA TO ATLANTIC CITY FOR THE 27th ANNUAL IRISH PUB TOUR DE SHORE

65-mile ride to benefit the Irish Pub Children’s Foundation by raising money to local children charities and the families of fallen police officers and firefighters.

 

PHILADELPHIA - (July 21, 2014) – This Sunday, July 27th, while most of Philadelphia is still sleeping, 2,000 enthusiastic cyclists will take to the bumpy streets of Philly and winding roads of South Jersey for the 27th Annual Irish Pub Tour de Shore. This year marks the largest Irish Pub Tour de Shore to date, with registration closing in June due to the overwhelming number of riders hoping to take part in this popular fundraiser.

 

This 65-mile bike ride to Atlantic City benefits the Irish Pub Children’s Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to raising funds for Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey-based children-oriented charitable endeavors. In more recent years, the IPCF hosts the Irish Pub Tour de Shore to support the families of fallen police officers and firefighters.

 

With a tradition of tremendous success, raising $624,000 in 2013, and pushing hard to reach their goal of $700,000 for 2014, the Irish Pub Children’s Foundation will again donate to local police, firefighters and children’s charities. The Philadelphia and South Jersey Area, like so many other communities, have been struck with the tragedy of losing police officers in the line of duty. Last year, the Irish Pub Children’s Foundation donated to over 23 local police, fire and children’s charities. Such charities included the FOP Survivors Fund, the Philadelphia Police Athletic League (PAL), the Daniel Faulkner Educational Grant Fund, the Atlantic City Police Athletic League, and additional children’s focused charities in the tri-state area.

 

The ride will begin at The Irish Pub on 20th and Walnut promptly at 7:00 AM on Sunday, July 27th. Notable participants include Phillies Broadcaster Gregg Murphy, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman, NBC10’s Deanna Durante, Maureen Faulkner, widow of slain officer Daniel Faulkner, Casey Boy of WMMR’s Preston & Steve Show and Comcast SportsNet’s Dei Lynam. They will ride alongside selfless bikers who trained in the sweltering heat the last few weeks.

 

The event, which has become a true labor of love for the Irish Pub staff and friends, was created in 1987 when Cathy Burke and Mark O’Connor, owners of the Irish Pub, were looking for ways to give back to the community and bridge the gap between the Irish Pubs in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. “27 years ago, this ride started out with 20 riders,” says Mark O’Connor, co-owner of the Irish Pub and President of the Irish Pub Children’s Foundation, “and has now exceeded our wildest expectations. What was once a casual ride of 20 has now become a “can’t miss” Delaware Valley event every summer.”

 

Riders will pedal freely across the Ben Franklin Bridge when it is temporarily closed to traffic from approximately 7:00 AM to 7:45 AM. Admiral Wilson Boulevard will also be closed eastbound from the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge to Morgan Boulevard from approximately 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM.

 

The tented parking lot of the Irish Pub and Inn in Atlantic City, 164 St. James Place at the Boardwalk, will host a “Finish Line Block Party”, complete with a raucous cheer zone, plentiful food, an exciting raffle, and ice cold beverages, that is free to all participating riders. The after party is free to riders and volunteers. A donation fee of $20 is required for family and friends, and children are $10.

 

For more information about the Irish Pub Tour de Shore, including a map of the route, please visit the Irish Pub web site at www.irishpubphilly.com.

 

###

 

About The Irish Pub

The Irish Pub in Atlantic City, founded by Cathy and Richard Burke and celebrating its 40th Anniversary as an Atlantic City institution, opened its doors in Philadelphia 32 years ago. The Irish Pub Children’s Foundation (IPCF), Inc. is a Tri- State based charity dedicated to helping children in need throughout the region. As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the IPCF has worked with a number of local charities benefiting countless number of children. With a history spanning over two decades, the IPCF continues its mission to improve the lives of children in the Tri-State area. Zagat listed the Irish Pub in the Top Ten Irish Pubs in the country in 2007. The Irish Pub is also last year’s winner of The National Restaurant Association’s 2013 “Restaurant Neighbor Award” for its outstanding charitable service initiatives.

 

Jul 182014
 

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After much drama, much Xanax, many prayers, and a huge sigh of relief when the MIA movers finally showed up (5 hours late!) we are FINALLY in our new home.

Thank you for your patience while I get things sorted out. I miss being here!

(Also, I have a totally new and exciting project in the works, so I won’t be coming back empty handed!)

Jun 202014
 

I miss you all, I really do. I miss writing, I miss being snarky, I miss oversharing my life with you.

However, I’ve entered the most soul-sucking era of my life that I have ever encountered.

Moving.

We sold our house (yay!) and we bought another one (yay!) and the in-between makes me think they will find me curled up in a corner somewhere with a pretty heavy drinking problem.

We close in July, so hopefully I’ll be back soon.

Pray for me those around me.

Jun 122014
 

Welcome to the Crunchmaster Gluten Free Snacks Giveaway!

Sponsored by: Crunchmaster

Hosted by: Gloriously Green Gal & Savory Savings

#glutenfree #giveaway

Gluten-free living can be tough when it comes to snacks.  Often times snacks that you would assume to be gluten-free are actually coated in wheat or another gluten-containing ingredient.  If you want crackers, that is usually even harder than most to find tasty ones since you cannot have wheat ones!  Crunchmaster makes an entire delicious line of gluten-free snacks from multigrain crackers to popped edamame chips and even a line of cinnamon crackers for kids!  Krista over at Savory Savings recently had the chance to review the Crunchmaster snacks and share her thoughts - check it out!

How would you like to win an assortment of tasty gluten-free snacks?  If you would like a chance to win, enter with the Giveaway Tool below.  If you have won a Crunchmaster giveaway anytime from another blog in the last 12 months, you are not eligible to win this giveaway.  The giveaway will run from June 11, 2014 through June 25, 2014 at 11 PM CST and is open to US and Canadian (void in Quebec) residents, ages 18 and older.  Entries will be verified.  Winner will be notified via email (consider adding gloriouslygreengal@gmail.com to your safe list) – winner will have 48 hours to respond and claim prize or another winner will be selected.

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