Showing posts with label Sponsored Posts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sponsored Posts. Show all posts

One Way To Spoil The Man In Your Life This Christmas


(Note: This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  & Armor All but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ArmorAllGiftPack  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsst)


I've been realizing lately that I need to show my gratitude for my husband a little bit more.

There are so many things that Derek does for our family.  He works hard to provide for us, which allows me to stay home with our kids.  He gets up with the kids every Saturday morning and feeds them breakfast while I sleep in.  He spends time reading a book to the kids every night.  He is a good man, a man who is committed to his family, and a man who stays.

That's not something that should be taken for granted in a world like ours, where those last three things are not easy to find.

I've been trying to think of little things I can do for Derek to let him know that I've been thinking about him.  It doesn't have to be anything big, but just small things to show him that I see him, that I see what he does for our family every day, and that I know that he's a catch.  I want to spoil him a bit more with everyday luxuries.

I know many of you are married to good men too - and even if you aren't married I would hope for you that you have a dad, brother, or other man in your life who is there when you need them.  Can I encourage you to expend a little effort to let them know that you see what they do every day and are thankful for them?  It's an especially fun time of year to think of fun surprises with Christmas right around the corner!

And that leads my to a little suggestion, if you aren't sure where to start spoiling the man in your life...start with his car!


I happen to be married to someone who is really into cars in general, but even if your guy is not, I think everyone appreciates riding around in a sparkling, beautifully detailed car.  Derek has actually asked me in the past for car cleaning supplies because he like the process of detailing his car and showing it off afterward.  I was excited to find the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack to give to him - I was sure he would love it!

You can find the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack in the automotive center at Walmart (that's where I got mine - and I've even got a coupon for you! Take advantage of the $3 off digital coupon offer for the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack from Walmart, while supplies last!



The kit is a complete car-cleaning kit, at a really great value.  When I gave the Armor All Gift Pack to Derek, he opened it up and was so impressed with all the products that come with it!  We were excited to try them out on his car - and he gave me a little run down on how to properly detail a car using the products in this gift pack.



So now, I pass the knowledge on to you, in case you want to take it up a notch and also surprise your man by cleaning his car for him (I didn't go that far, because Derek actually enjoys cleaning the car himself, and he is better at it than me!).  What better way to spoil the men in your life with an everyday treat like a sparkling clean car?




Step One: Remove any clutter or trash from the car.

This probably goes without saying, but I'm trying to be thorough.


Step Two:  Wipe down the interior glass with Armor All Glass Wipes.

These glass wipes are a no-streak, no-residue formula, which is fantastic.



Step Three: Wipe down the dashboard, upholstery, steering wheel, etc, with the Armor All Cleaning Wipes.

Can I just say how convenient these are too?  I'm pretty sure Derek is going to keep these in the car for touch-ups as things get dirty on the go!




Step Four: Apply Armor All Original Protectant to dashboard, steering wheel, etc.

This keeps vinyl, rubber, and plastic surfaces shiny and clean and helps prevent cracking, discoloration, or premature aging!  It's the finishing touch.



Step Five: Vacuum the floor and seats.

Derek does this after cleaning the dash so he can vacuum up any dust or crumbs that might fall on the floor.


Step Six: Wash the exterior of the car with the Armor All Wash and Wax.

This stuff washes and waxes in one step, and the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack even includes a sponge and microfiber cloth that are easy on the surface of your car, so you don't even have to worry about buying those seperately!  This product helps protect the surface of your car and keeps it shiny. Derek tells me the waxing helps dirt and water not stick as much too, which is especially useful for keeping the car shinier in the winter, with all the snow and mud.




Step Seven: Focus on the tires.

This Gift Pack comes with two tire products - the Quicksilver Wheel And Tire Cleaner, and Extreme Tire Shine Spray (which keeps your tires that rich black).  I was very impressed with these products.  I watched Derek clean the wheel with it, and it made it look practically brand new!


(I just noticed that Derek didn't use the microfiber cloth for the tires - I think he didn't want to ruin his brand-new cloth yet!  Our tires were pretty filthy.)


Tip: The bucket included with the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack is perfect to fill with warm water for washing the exterior, especially in the winter when hoses aren't an option! Then you can store the products back in the bucket when you are done!




Derek has tried a few different car detailing products over the years, and he is really impressed with the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack and how well all the products worked!  It was almost a little mini-date for us to clean his car together, but if you are trying to surprise your guy and clean his car yourself, the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack has everything you need in one bucket!  If your guy is like mine and likes to do the cleaning himself, this pack would make an excellent gift too!  I'm keeping it in mind for my dad and brother, because this would make a great gift for them too.

The bottom line is that our guys deserve to know that they are loved and appreciated, at Christmas and all through the year.  The Armor All Car Care Gift Pack is just one idea for something we could use to surprise them and let them know that they are better-than-ordinary and irreplaceable to us.




Have you ever cleaned your man's car for him? Do do other little things to show your husband (or father, brother, significant other) that you appreciate them?  

I'm trying to get better at doing something special for Derek on a more regular basis, so share your ideas below!







How To Take Better Pictures Of Your Family This Christmas (+ A Black Friday Deal!)


(Note: Affiliate links used in this post.)


When Wyatt was one year old, I bought a DSLR camera.  I really didn't know what I was doing at the time, I just knew that I wanted to take better pictures of my son.  I wanted to capture the details of his babyhood in a way that my point-and-shoot camera just wasn't letting me.

I have never regretted that decision to buy a "big camera", and after a lot of trial and error I finally figured out how to use it!  My favorite time of year to take pictures is finally here - Christmas time!  I just love all the sparkles and colors and festivities this time of year - the "December" picture folder on my computer is always a little more full than the others.

Unfortunately December is also a difficult time to get good pictures, between the freezing cold weather that may make it hard to go outside, less daylight, a flurry of festivities, and kiddos that just won't sit still.  I've got a few ideas for how you can get some pretty adorable pictures even amidst the Christmas hustle and bustle, but point #1 is what you need first if you are going to get those Christmas-y pictures you might envision.



1. Know your camera.

The thing about owning a DSLR is that it really is no better than a point-and-shoot camera unless you learn how to get off auto.  Do you want that beautiful background blur in your Christmas photos? Do you want to capture the Christmas lights twinkling in the dark? Do you just not want the flurry of present-opening to result in a bunch of blurred photos? Then you need to know how to use your DSLR camera.

I bought my DSLR already knowing it was going to take a lot of trial and error to figure out how to manipulate the settings to get the pictures I wanted, but I am really excited to share a resource with you that I really think will help you figure it out faster!

Erin from Digital Photography For Moms has launched a photography course called Guided365.  It is a monthly subscription course, and each day of the month you will get an email that explains a different photography concept and gives you a prompt to practice your skills. This isn't a list of photo ideas, these prompts focus on techniques that will help you to learn your camera, learn how to get the perfect focus, find the best light, and so many other things!  

Erin was sweet enough to let me try out the course, and I've worked through the first couple weeks so far.  It really is excellent.  She starts out slowly to help beginners get off "auto", but I think people with intermediate skills (like me) can also get a lot out of even the beginning lessons and really hone their technique.  Even with just the first couple weeks, which I thought would mostly be review, I was reminded of a couple of bad habits I had fallen into with my photography.  

I am so looking forward to working through more of the course, and I hope you check it out!  And Black Friday Deal Alert: If you sign up before December 2nd for the year 2017, you will get 50% off your first month subscription!  Use the code "Confidence" at checkout!  You any cancel or pause your subscription anytime you need to as well, but if you are wanting to learn more about how to use your DSLR, this is the most thorough resource I've found so far!



2. Be aware of the light and plan accordingly.

December is the month of the year with the least light, and low light situations are the trickiest when trying to get good photos.  This is when it is really important to know how to use your camera (see the first point), because that will help you know how to pick the right settings to get a good picture...but I'm not going to lie, that doesn't always guarantee those low-light pictures are going to turn out exactly right.  So my advice?  Plan your picture-taking around daylight hours.

What I mean by that is to try to do as many of those photo-op activities as you can during the day.  We usually set up our Christmas tree in the morning or early afternoon because I know we'll get good light from the windows (for you smarties out there - we decorated our tree in two stages this year, at night and in the morning, so I have both day and night pictures in this post! This was kind of an unusual year).  I don't try to take Christmas jammie pictures at night - I gather them up in the morning while the light is good.  You can't do this with everything you might want to photograph, but when you can, try to think about the light.



3. Think about the details.

Try to notice the little details you want to capture during the Christmas season.  Some of my favorite Christmas time pictures are of little things, like my son's little hands wrapped around a hot chocolate mug, my daughter's face when she is concentrating on decorating a Christmas cookie perfectly, my littlest baby on the floor surrounded by ornaments, or the way my two-year-old sticks out his tongue while hanging an ornament (see above).

Think about your favorite moments from Christmas last year, including all the little details that made it cozy, magical, or special.  Then I recommend mentally planning how you might be able to capture those details this year in photos - and that way, when the opportunity presents itself, you'll be ready!

On a similar note, don't just take the posed pictures - keep your camera nearby and take the spontaneous photos of those precious little details or moments in time.  Let your family interact as normal, but keep your photographer eye ready.



4. Fake It.

I'm about to tell you my dirty little secret of taking pictures of my family.  You don't have to take magical, perfect shots right when the action happens.  You can fake it.

Sometimes in the rush and hurry of Christmas festivities, I may miss my chance to get a picture that I really wanted to take of the kids.  So what do I do?  We stage a little reenactment.  The kids are used to me by now and think it's fun to see the pictures of themselves, so it's usually not too hard to get them to do something again later so I can take a picture.  We took a few tree-decorating pictures this way this year because I wasn't around to take them the first time.  I don't know about you, but my kids don't need any cajoling to put more ornaments on the tree.


Is this inauthentic?  I don't view it that way because we actually did do these activities in real life, and we enjoyed the activities.  Having pictures is wonderful, but sometimes it's important to be in-the-moment with my kids instead of worrying about getting a good picture.  This is how I accomplish that and still get whatever shot I wanted.  And that leads to my last tip...



5. Remember that it doesn't have to turn out exactly like you envisioned.

I almost always go into a Christmas activity thinking about which photos I want to get and when, but I rarely get the exact photo I was envisioning in my head - but sometimes the photo I end up with ends up being even better.  It may not be technically perfect, but it's my family, in that moment.  It's us.  Everything doesn't always go as planned, complications (or catastrophes) arise, and I think the mark of starting to become a good photographer for your own family is being able to roll with it.  

It doesn't have to look perfect.  The point is to be fully there, in these moments with your family, and learn how to capture the moments that you can while being flexible enough to let the rest go.  Enjoy your family. Enjoy this Christmas with them.  Don't make it all about the photo, make it about the memory.



If you are fairly new to your DSLR, or if you have yet to venture out of auto or program mode, don't forget to check out Guided365 and learn how to get the most out of your camera!  It will definitely be worth your time!

Do you have a DSLR?  Do you shoot in manual or auto?  For my fellow mom-photographers, what tips would you add?









Four Reasons To Love Sports Movies (GREATER The Movie Recommendation)



This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and GREATER Productions. but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #GREATERMovie #GreaterTheMovie  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Confession: I have absolutely no sports ability; but despite this fact, I love sports movies.

There is something about a good inspirational sports movie that makes me wish I could have been on a team.  (But then that thought flits out of my head, because trust me, I am doing everyone a favor by staying off the field.)  Sports stories appeal to a few things that touch my heart, things that I want to teach my own kids - maybe while watching a good sports movie.






Sports movies remind us that we weren’t meant to do life alone.   

Sports movies reflect this in the most poignant way, because no player really succeeds unless the entire team succeeds.  And when when player is successful, it’s because their teammates have been there to help them along the way.  God didn’t make human beings to live alone, raise their families alone, or do life alone, and I think sports teams and movies are a good reflection of a deeper truth.

Sports movies remind us that hard work and doing the right thing pay off.  

Though sports movies are obviously about successes, it’s the parts where the players have to overcome obstacles to achieve greatness that are most poignant.  Does hard always pay off with your dreams becoming a reality?  No, not always, but it always pays off with good character, and I love when sports movies reflect that.

Sports movies remind us that true teammates are there for you even when you fail.  

One of my favorite parts about sports movies is seeing how the main character develops relationships with teammates, and how those teammates are there to pick them up and encourage them when they fail.  Everyone will want part of your successes, but true teammates are the ones who are there to give you a hand up and slap on the back when you fail.

Sports movies speak to that intrinsic desire to be a part of something greater.  

I think the main reason I love a good sports movie is because the best ones make your heart swell as you watch the individual players work together to achieve something greater, a goal none of them could reach alone.  I love that.  I believe that all of us were made to do something greater than just strive for our own success on earth - I believe we were made to bring glory to God, and we were made to do that together with others, and there is something about sports movies that speaks to that truth that God hid inside us.  


With fall and football season coming up, I am ready to break out all my sports movies and be inspired!  And if there is one sports movie that encapsulates everything I listed above, it is the new film, GREATERThis movie follows one of the greatest walk-on stories in college football, how Brandan Burlesworth went from an underdog to an All-American football player.  





The Brandon Burlesworth story incorporates everything I love about sports stories, and his story in GREATER makes the perfect inspirational sports movie.  It reflected the support Brandon had from his mother and family in achieving his dreams, and how he supported his teammates and they supported him in the wins and losses.  It showed his consistent hard work it takes for players and teams to be great.  It showed how respect and friendships develop among teammates.  But my favorite part of GREATER was the reminder that our lives serve a greater purpose than just what we can see on the surface.






GREATER was such a moving movie for me, and a wonderful one for a date with my football-loving spouse!  When the kids are a little older, I am going to love watching this movie together as a family!  There are so many good lessons and examples in GREATER, and I think it is a wonderful way to teach our kids about what is most important. After watching the movie with Derek, I was inspired to put together a few discussion questions to get the conversation going.



GREATER Discussion Questions:

1. When Brandon was a child, he was discouraged and bullied.  When did things start to turn around for him?  Do you think he would have been able to achieve so much if he hadn’t had some voices of encouragement around him?

2.  Brandon was told over and over again that he didn’t have what it took to play college football, and he experienced some failures - but he used that to inspire him to work harder.  Even if he was never successful on football, what other advantages do you see from his determination to work hard against the odds?

3. Brandon’s coach said character is what you do when no one is watching.  How did he display good character?  How does a person develop good character?

4.  Brandon faced a lot of bullying and name-calling, but he persevered in kindness and doing what was right.  Why do you think he did that?  What effect did it have on his teammates?

5. One quote from the movie is “Our loss is great, but God is greater.”  How did Brandon’s football journey serve a greater purpose beyond himself?






GREATER comes out on August 26th in select theaters (check to see if it will be available in a theater near you) - just in time for football season!  I highly recommend this movie and hope you all get a chance to see it!  Come back and tell me what you think when you do - this is definitely going on my list of favorite sports movies.

Watch the trailer below, and follow GREATER The Movie on social media for updates on when and where the film is released! 







What is your favorite sports movie?  Are you planning on seeing GREATER?




 photo family-discussion-questions-for-GREATER-the-movie_zpsylsa3awp.jpg

15+ At-Home Date Night Ideas


This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Milo’s Tea, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TastetheMilosDifference  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV


One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to sit on the porch with Derek in the evening.  As the winter months come to a close, and the air turns warm, I am so looking forward to spending some time together as a couple outside.  The evening air is gorgeous in the mountains.  I have visions of sitting on the porch together, listening to the hummingbirds whizzing by, talking and drinking iced tea.

Are you ready for a confession?  It has been a long time since my husband and I have gone on a date.

Holiday Tea Recipe: Cranberry Orange Spiced Tea



There are certain tastes that we associate with certain memories.  For me, the tastes of different drinks conjure memories of different seasons of my life.  I specifically associate cranberry, orange, and tea with winter and Christmas memories, so I thought why not combine all three into a family tea recipe that would fit perfectly into a Christmas family gathering or party menu?  And so this recipe was born.

Managing Baby And Toddler Schedules




A few months ago I went to a party of a friend.  She used one of those e-invite systems (I'm still not sure what I think about them, because I'm old-school and still send party invites through the mail).  With e-invites you can usually see everyone else's comments about their RSVP - and I was in a curious mood, so I read through some of the responses.

One comment in particular caught my eye - someone said they couldn't come to my friend's party because the party was in the evening, and their toddler usually went to bed at 7:00 PM.  

The comment struck me, I think in part because I understand even more than most how miserable things can get when your child is cranky and tired.  I have four kids under five, three of whom still nap and also go to bed at 7:00 PM.  When one of the kids cries, at least a couple more join in.


Why You Should Know Your Neighbors' Names




Last year, I found myself feeling restless, particularly about my walk with the Lord. Was this all there was?  Was my current pattern in life how things were always going to be?  It didn't seem like enough.  I wanted to do more to serve the Lord, and I had no idea where to start.  It seemed to me I would have to do something radical to break out of my rut.

Then one Sunday, I sat in church and listened to a guest speaker talk about how to be a good neighbor.


Five Uncommon Weekend Family Activity Ideas



Labor Day is coming right up, and we all know what that means - a three-day weekend!  Where I live, it also means lots of traffic as people travel for camping, parades, and other events.

Out of curiosity I looked up the history of Labor Day, because if I'm benefitting from the holiday it seems that I should know a little bit about it.  It turns out that Labor Day originated in the 1800's, when people often worked 12-hour days, seven days a week.  We don't have that some problem anymore, but it's still nice to have an extra day off to spend time with our families.

If you are like me, you are not crazy about the idea of braving the traffic and crowds to do some of the traditional long-weekend activities - so why not do something different instead?  Here are a few ideas of things you can do with your family this weekend!


A Letter To My {Future} Teenage Daughters


When I was a little girl, my mom had a notebook that she used to write down some of the cute things that I did.  As I was sorting through my baby box a couple years ago, I found it and started reading through it.  In addition to all the words about my cuteness (which was abundant - what can I say?), my mom also wrote notes of different things she was thinking and feeling through my toddler years.  I loved reading through it.


5 Easy Tips For Keeping A Clean House With Young Kids

5 Easy Cleaning Tips For Keeping A Clean House With Young Kids |Through Clouded Glass



I once read somewhere that it is a good idea to keep your house in a decent enough state that if someone were to ask if they could come over in fifteen minutes, you wouldn't freak out.  

Whoever said that obviously did not have young children.  Between picking up toys, making and cleaning up after meals, and handling all the messy situations my kids find themselves in, sometimes I feel like most of my day is spent cleaning.  Having three kids under five will do that to you, and we're about to add another one to the mix!  

Still, I have never forgotten that fifteen minute clean up goal, and I can appreciate the idea behind it.  I love finding quick cleaning ideas, because I like the idea of keeping my house in good enough order that I wouldn't be totally embarrassed if someone were to stop by unexpectedly.  

Housekeeping is still something I want to maintain, even with all the little ones we have running around.  Will my house be as perfect as I could get it pre-kids?  No, but I also don't think having young children is an excuse to let your house go to shambles either.  These are a few easy cleaning tips that have helped me maintain a (relatively) clean house, even with our growing tribe.


Every Person Is Valuable | Where Hope Grows Movie


 This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Godspeed Pictures, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #wherehopegrowsmovie http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Where hope grows movie17

A couple months ago, I read a news story related to people with Down syndrome.  I won’t go into all the details of the story, but it reflected the attitude of some people that those with disabilities such as Down syndrome wouldn’t have fulfilling or meaningful lives because of their disability.

That story irked me at the time, and it has stuck with me since then.  I don’t have any friends or family with Down syndrome, but I have met many people with Down syndrome, and I had a friend growing up with a mental disability.  They are often the happiest, sweetest people you will ever meet.  To suggest that they are somehow less valuable because they don’t fit into someone’s idea of perfection is just ignorant.

I believe with all my heart that every person has intrinsic value.

That’s not just a bumper sticker sentiment, it is the truth.  Every person is created in the image of God, and that automatically gives them value.  To me that’s a given, but it’s not a given in our culture today.  It has become common to try to quantify the worth of people, to the point where some even dare to deem certain lives to have little value.

But who are we to think we can determine that?

I don’t think you even have to look too hard to see the value of those with Down syndrome.  The joy they so often exude, the friendship they offer so easily, their ability to look past the faults of others (despite whether or not those people can do the same), the fact that they can thrive despite the challenges that most of us will never face - all these things are sources of inspiration to those around them.

I recently had the opportunity to see a movie that I think illustrated this beautifully. In Where Hope Grows, Calvin Campbell is a washed up baseball player and an alcoholic.  In the grocery store one day he meets a kid named Produce, who has Down syndrome.  He is drawn to Produce’s happy spirit, and as Campbell gets to know Produce better, he is able to find hope for his own life and relationships.

MovieWhere hope grows movie12
Hope grows movie
(My parents and me enjoying the movie!  Derek was there too, he just missed out on the pictures.)

Where Hope Grows comes out in theaters this Friday (the 15th), and I highly recommend seeing if you can catch it at your local theater!  You can watch the movie trailer here:



And this was a part of the movie that we thought was fun!



The Christian influences in this movie were subtle, which I think makes it a movie that anyone can appreciate, even if they are not believers.  But I loved how it was clear that Produce’s joy was because of his faith, and his faith was a beacon for Campbell through the movie as he started to see the changes he needed to make in his own life.

Where Hope Grows has message of hope - that even when you hit your lowest point, there is always hope to turn things around with help from God, and friends and family.  I loved the example of Produce’s character, that every person has the potential to impact other people and show them the love of God, even when you might least expect it.

Where hope grows WHG001 Calvin meets Produce rgb

Produce invested his days well, even as a grocery store clerk.  He used the place where God had placed him to reach out to others.  I think many times we get so caught up in the busyness of the day to day that we forget that God has us where we are for a reason.  We get so caught up in our own selves that we forget, or are too scared, to reach out to others.

I don’t think Produce’s character even realized how he impacted the life of Campbell, or his role in helping him get back on track.  That’s the beauty of influence.  You might never know how you or anyone else may influence others through your life, but you can bet that God can and does use anyone He chooses to change stories.

Where hope grows WHG003A Produce Veggieball rgb

Derek mentioned how he liked the courage Produce showed at different parts of the movie, even in protecting and standing up for those he cared about. There was something innocent and refreshing about the way Produce’s character impacted those around him that I think is reflective of many people with mental disabilities. It is a beautiful thing.  It is something to be valued, something the world needs.  I think this movie showed that in a compelling way.

Joni Eareckson Tada has said that people are made for one purpose - to make God real to those around them.  The beauty of that truth is that any person can do this.  Someone who lives a hundred years, or a baby in a mother’s womb.  The healthiest person in the world, or the one with the most challenges.  The smartest person on the planet, or the one you would least expect.  I think those with Down syndrome and other mental disabilities in particular can touch souls in ways that others never could.

Where hope grows WHG001A Produce Calvin in car rgb

Every person in the world has the capability to make God real to those around them.

Every person in the world has the potential to make an impact on someone else for eternity.

Every person is valuable, not because any human says they are, but because God says they are.

Where Hope Grows drove that point home for me again, and I think the DVD will be joining our movie library in the near future!  Definitely check it out!

Where hope grows movie
© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.