Unlimited cell phone plans: Straight Talk #StraightTalkTesters

I used to have one of the “traditional” cell phone plans with a major service provider.  I was delighted when we signed on with my husband’s 15% employee discount available to us.  What did I get for that?  Well, I got unlimited night and weekend calling, and voice mail. 250 minutes to use otherwise before I had extra charges incurred. No texting.  No data. The discount covered taxes and that’s about it.  Being a blogger, I really needed a phone to be able to get online so that I could use social media when I was at events or doing campaigns for clients.  That’s hard to do without data. We didn’t have the money to pay for a plan with data from any traditional cell phone plans and needed other options.

That’s when my friend Leandrea told me about Straight Talk.  Once I grasped what she was saying, and to be honest, she had to repeat herself a few times, I was sold. I had always (wrongfully) assumed that no-contract phones were for people who had no credit or less than stellar credit.

So why ditch other cell phone plans for Straight Talk? For me it was a no brainer.  I could get the same popular smartphones with the same coverage for a huge discounted price.  With no commitment, except when I chose to commit to.  (I pay 12 months at a time, because it offers an extra savings by doing that, so it drops the price a bit lower even).

Unlimited Cell Phone Plans: Straight Talk

straight talk logo

Same nationwide coverage as on America’s largest and most dependable networks

This was HUGE for me. We live in an area that has dead spots (and they have decreased since we moved here 9 years ago but there are 2 spots remaining in town that no providers have service.)  They are small but they are there.  I wanted to be certain that my phone would work anywhere I need it to since I’m the primary caregiver, being home full time, and need to be reached at any time.

straight talk data

Get up to 8x more high speed data than other $45 no-contract plans

With the $45 30-day plan you get Unlimited* nationwide talk, text and data (high speed data for the first 2.5 GB of data use)
• Easily check your balance and service end date at http://bit.ly/R3DoyT
Straight Talk is available exclusively at Walmart, Walmart.com and StraightTalk.com

You can even BYOP (Bring your own phone)

With Straight Talk, you can use almost ANY phone.  You can purchase one of the many Straight Talk ready smartphones or Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) to Straight Talk. I’ve had an iPhone of one kind or another for 2 years on this plan, and couldn’t be happier about the service. I honestly don’t remember what I had before my iPhones- I’ve had an iPhone 3, iPhone 4, iPhone 5 and currently, a hot pink iPhone 5c.

straight talk same phones

Switching to Straight Talk Wireless is so simple

This is even easier than before. Got a smartphone and don’t want to pay the rates of other cell phone plans? Simply bring your phone and buy a new SIM or network activation code (on CDMA) to get started with unlimited talk, text and data for $45 a month.

Half the Cost

This is the big one for me.  Straight Talk is half the cost.  $45 a month for Unlimited talk, text and data.  You aren’t bound to a contract, no termination fees, nothing.  Just service and pretty much any phone you want to use.

I don’t know what you pay for cellular service in your house. I can tell you that most people I’ve talked to seem to pay $90 or more for their plans for just one person and have not spoken with anyone who pays less than $160 for 2 people in a house.  That may be regional, but I talk with a lot of people about their cell phone service. I like to spend smart.  I don’t want to pay $90 or $100 for service when I can get the equivalent for half of that.  I’d rather use that other $45 a month to have some fun, go on a date with my husband, pay down our mortgage principal- but not give it to a huge company!

The hardest part for me has been deciding WHICH phone I’d like to use.  I can’t wait to see what’s coming next for Straight Talk.

So I have a question for you- what kind of cell phone plan do you use?  Have you considered switching to an unlimited cell phone plan like Straight Talk?



This is a partnered post as part of my participation in the Straight Talk Testers program.  Opinions are my own. 

Top New Jersey things to see and do #NJStrong

This post brought to you by New Jersey’s Division of Travel & Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

Throughout history New Jersey has set a precedent for the other states. The location alone has put New Jersey in a unique position as it pertains to history. The people who live there have continued the tradition of saluting their history while making great strides toward the future. Even Hurricane Sandy in 2012 could not restrain the ambition of the people there as they came together and showed the world that New Jersey is “Stronger than the Storm”. New Jersey has something for everyone, from the history buff to the scientist exploring advances in energy technology. It’s time to start making your summer plans now!

Visit NJ - Sweep on White photo 67361bcd-cfeb-4de5-823f-b5191dea8806_zps26a5f19c.jpg

Atlantic City

Atlantic City is one of the most well-known places in New Jersey. Here you can step onto a luxury liner for an Atlantic City cruise or go the daring route and use Atlantic City Parasail to test your courage. From one extreme to the other, Atlantic City has something for every age.

  • Spas: There are too many spas to count. If you need a day of pampering, you’ll find it here. There are spas of just about every discipline so you can try something new or stick with something you are already familiar with.

  • James’ Salt Water Taffy Candy Factory: This is a great place for children and adults alike. Explore the world of taffy and watch the entire process before you try a sample or two.

  • Extreme Windsurfing: Test your windsurfing skills off the coast of New Jersey! 

As you can see,the Jersey Shore is Going Strong! Although Atlantic City, New Jersey has much to offer, there is far more than this area to explore in New Jersey.  

New Jersey is known as the Garden State as well as the Crossroads of the American Revolution. History buffs will want to visit the historic sites, villages, and heritage trails. Washington Crossing, Princeton, and the location of the largest field artillery battle of the American Revolution– Monmouth, are all battlefields that were a significant part of the American Revolution. In fact, New Jersey boasts no less than 8 national historic landmarks.

  • Cape May: Maintained in traditional style of the Victorian era, Cape May offers:

  • Cape May Lighthouse, with a shore line that constantly changes as well as a multitude of small islands.

  • Fire Control Tower 23, part of the harbor defense system of WW II and the last New Jersey tower of its type standing.

  • Congress Hall, now a hotel with modern accommodations, this building was built in 1816.

  • Liberty State Park: Observe Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

  • National Parks

  • Cowtown Rodeo: Running since 1929 with a pause for WW II

  • Boutique Hotels

  • Long Beach Island

  • Vietnam Veteran Memorial: The only memorial in the world dedicated exclusively to veterans of the Vietnam War.

We are hoping to start planning our own familytrip down to New Jersey this summer. Ideally, we’d like to stay at the shore, probably Long Beach Island so we can be close to friends who have a house down there.  Several days would be for relaxing at the beach, enjoying one another, maybe doing some fishing.  We’d really like to go to Pirate’s Adventures, because who doesn’t want to be a pirate at least one night of their life? The Jersey shore seems to have endless number of activities and things for families with kids to enjoy!

Aquariums are also something that interest our family- so we would definitely want to check out Adventure Aquarium during our stay.  We also enjoy just exploring, and I think it would be fun to pack up picnic stuff and hike on in to Island Beach State Park for a day. I’m also quite certain the kids will want to visit Six Flags Great Adventure before we head back home. 

Of course, we could get some rainy weather during our visit. Thankfully I’m seeing lots of fun attractions all over New Jersey, and I think one destination for us would have to be Coco Key indoor water park! We’ve never really been to a water park before!

I think we’d need a whole separate  week to explore other parts of New Jersey- there’s so many beautiful parks to explore and historical sites to visit. Maybe we should schedule a two week vacation. 

Sign up for e-news on njgoingstrong.com to learn more about the Shore. 

Stay in touch and stay up to date with everything going on in New Jersey this summer! 






No matter how old you are or what your interests are, you’ll find something interesting to do in New Jersey. How are you planning to discover New Jersey this summer?

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10 Ways to Get Allergy Relief at Home

Happy spring!  Happy pollen season!

For many of us, spring means enjoying open windows, fresh cut grass…for just as many, spring means allergies flaring up and discomfort. While we can’t necessarily rid ourselves of allergens, there are ways to get some allergy relief at home.

10 Ways to get Allergy Relief at Home

ways to get allergy relief at home

1. Close the windows.

Yes, close them.  Use the air conditioning in your home.  Why?  It’s easy, really- your air conditioner will filter the air.  Less allergens coming into the home.

2. Flooring.

Choose wood or tile.  Not a possibility?  Vacuum frequently.  Clean the rugs frequently.

3. Vacuum.

Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter.  (I kind of think this is more the norm these days but maybe it isn’t?)

4. Bedding.

Choose mattress covers and pillow covers that are dust-mite proof.  Wash bedding frequently in HOT water.  I like to also do vinegar rinses with our bedding when we wash it.  This does include pillows.

5. Bathing/Showering.

I do not normally shower/bathe my kids daily.  When allergy season kicks in, my son’s in the shower right before bed each and every night.  Quite simply, he’s got hair on his head.  With allergens outside, and hair on the head— allergens are in your hair.  When you lay down to sleep, you put your head on your pillow, and that’s where your face stays.  Taking a quick shower before bed can prevent those allergens from getting on your pillow for you to breathe in all night long.

6. Pets.

Pet dander is not an allergy sufferer’s friend.  I’m not suggesting you get rid of your pets- we still have ours.  But stay on top of the vacuuming.  Try to adopt pets that have less dander given off, pets that don’t shed (as much) if possible.

7. Clutter.

Get rid of it.  Dust can settle on clutter.  Dust is an allergen.

8. No smoking in your house.

Ever.  Period. (I won’t lecture you,  but it can, will and does kill you.  Not worth it).

9. Clean regularly.

I hope you do this anyway but keeping things clean can help keep allergens at bay. This does also include laundry.  Letting laundry sit around the house with allergens on it won’t help anyone.

10.  Air filters.


Can’t stress this enough.  Change your air filters regularly (at least every three months). Use an Allergen Defense Filter to have just one more way to help filter allergens from circulating in the air in your home.

filtrete- allergen-defense

The Filtrete Micro Allergen Defense filter  attracts and captures microscopic particles like smoke and smog and large allergens like mold spores and pollen from the air passing through the filter. Outperforms fiberglass, washable and non-electrostatic pleated 1″ filters.

filrete allergen chart

  • Outperforms fiberglass, washable and non-electrostatic pleated 1″ filters

  • Carries a 1000/1085 Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR)

  • Attracts and captures microscopic particles like smoke, smog and large allergens like mold spores and pollen from the air passing through the filter

Register to receive seasonal e-newsletters featuring special offers, filter change reminders, better home living tips and more at www.Filtrete.com.


Filtrete Brand Ambassador Badge

This post about 5 things to clean monthly is brought to you as part of my Filtrete Healthy Home Ambassadorship.  I was compensated for my time but opinions are my own.

Sponsored Video: Making cleanup easy and fun #TrashCrashers

We all know that life gets messy sometimes.  There’s just no way around it.  When life does get messy, we have to clean up the mess, right?  Why not make it fun?  No one ever said we can’t make even the most tedious task into a fun activity.  Check out this video about making cleanup easy and fun, brought to you by our friends at USA Network. The idea behind the video is that Glad Black Bags make taking care of your messes easy and fun. The cheerleaders and gymnasts in the video sure make cleaning up look fun!
Check out this fun #TrashCrashers video- you can get a .50 coupon for Glad Black Bags when you do. You’ve never seen party pickup like this before.  Also, please note, some of these ideas may not be the best thing to do at home without supervision, or some safety precautions in place.  Otherwise, you may have a whole different kind of mess on your hands!

Sharing the video with your social networks gets you a $1.00 coupon for Glad Black Bags! What are you waiting for? Summer’s coming- I’m sure you have some celebrations coming up that will require clean up after!
This post has been sponsored by
Glad, but concerns our own opinion.

25 Hearty Vegetarian Recipes

These hearty vegetarian recipes will fill you up, and they taste so good that you won’t even miss the meat! I like using recipes like these for when company comes over. They’re always super impressed that I made such a delicious meal without meat.  Having an array of meatless meal options is not only healthier for us, but also easier for me, since my oldest stopped eating meat several months ago and the rest of us are still carniverous.
hearty vegetarian recipes

1. Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
2. Southwestern Quinoa Salad
3. Lemon Garlic Pasta
4. Thick Crust Pizza
5. Roasted Apple and Brie Grilled Cheese
6. Tofu Nuggets
7. Quinoa Corn Patties
8. White Bean and Kale Quesadillas
9. The Ultimate Veggie Burger
10. Creamy Potato Veggie Chowder
11. Spicy Pad Thai
12. Fresh Tomato and Cheddar Tart
13. Cauliflower Parmesan
14. Quinoa Black Bean Tacos
15. Vegetable Tortilla Cups
16. Veggie Lime Nachos
17. One Pan Farro with Tomatoes
18. Parmesan Polenta with Kale and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
19. Vegetable Quinoa Soup
20. Easy Tex Mex Ravioli Lasagna
21. Vegetarian Shepherds Pie
22. Sesame Eggplant with Sriracha Honey Drizzle
23. Skinny Greek Mac & Cheese
24. Spinach Artichoke Pasta
25. Quinoa Tabbouleh

LEGO Friends Building Toys for Girls #LEGOFriendsCGC #CleverGirls

We are a big fan of LEGO® as a brand in our family. We have spent many hours together building things together.  Every holiday we like to build something as a challenge that goes with the holiday. (Turkeys are really hard to make, FYI). When we were starting to look at what we wanted for a chicken coop, the first mockup was from LEGO® bricks.  When I say WE, I mean all five of us in our family.  Both of my girls LOVE to build creations with LEGO®  bricks- both the LEGO® Friends and regular bricks. We’ve been in love with the girls from Heartlake City since we first were introduced to them and our love has only grown.


The Heartlake News Van was sent to us as part of this review.  It’s meant for ages 6-12, although big sister let little help a lot when she was constructing the van.  The van was a quick build for the girls (mostly my 8 1/2 year old).  She loves the color change from the “regular” bricks, and how the sets serve to encourage creative play after the sets are completed.  The LEGO Lipstick was also a big hit.


The LEGO® Friends van sets up a scene for the kids to do news reports on things happening “around town.”  With sets like these, kids learn about following directions are able to follow guidelines to build things as they are, but then they can use the constructed sets to inspire imaginative and creative play.


My kids were using the news van to talk about a race track crash between a motor bike and a sports car (that their brother built, but this is for LEGO® Friends so we don’t have pics). They’ve been doing ‘newscasts’ all week even using the teeny tiny microphone that came with the set.



The kids had a blast building this set.  The girls have both requested that we get all of the REST of the LEGO® Friends sets we don’t already have, so we can build Heartlake City. In the meantime, they’ll have to settle for giving me news reports lamenting the fact that they don’t have all of the sets…



We also received a small container of  LEGO® bricks, with a note that our daughters were to build something of their own choosing.  Being Earth Week, my daughter wanted to build a  LEGO® Earth.



She was quite proud of her accomplishment, as was I. She did a pretty great job considering she had limited brick sizes and colors to work with!



I suggested she try to build a chicken coop and was met with eye  rolls.  But hey, that’s the awesome of  LEGO® Friends and  LEGO® in general- kids can build what they want, how they want to.  There are so many options and fun ways to create and design all kinds of creations and structures…. all while increasing spatial awareness, logic, problem solving and more. 

Got a girl in your life? Get her some  LEGO® Friends!


LEGO® Friends is a collection of building sets that blend the iconic LEGO construction experience with stories, settings and themes designed to meet children’s desire for creativity and a highly-detailed, character-based world. Since its launch in 2012, LEGO® Friends has dramatically increased the number of girls building with LEGO bricks and enjoying the benefits of construction play.


LEGO® Friends has teamed up with Girls on the Run® (GOTR), a physical activity-based positive youth development program to inspire girls everywhere to achieve their limitless potential. Girls are using  LEGO® Friends bricks and elements to tell stories, embrace their differences and find strength in their connectedness.

Have you done LEGO® Friends with your daughter? Does she like the sets, building freehand, or both?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Bruschetta Recipe: Bruschetta Zucchini Boats

In keeping with the mixing things up in our menu rotation, we’ve been trying to inlude a meatless meal or two each week. The males in my house are slowly adjusting to having a meatless meal once a week, and I’ve actually been enjoying the exploration of different recipes.  This is a bruschetta recipe that gives us another way to use up zucchini- which is good because zucchini seems to do REALLY well in our garden and I always have too much!

Bruschetta Zucchini Boats

Bruschetta recipe zucchini boats


1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 orange tomato, seeded and cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup onion, finely chopped
½ tsp crushed red pepper”
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp grape seed oil
1 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp fresh Basil, chopped {I use shredding scissors}
4 zucchini
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese


1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.


2)  Slice zucchini in half lengthwise.  Using a melon baller, scoop out the middle of the zucchini halves to create a “boat.”  Bake in oven for about 5-7 minutes.


3)  In medium pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Saute on medium for 3-4 minutes until onions are softened and garlic is lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cool.


4)  In a large bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, orange tomato, and garlic mixture.  Stir to combine.  Add balsamic vinegar and stir well.  Mix in fresh basil.


5)  Spoon tomato mixture into zucchini cavities and top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Bruschetta Recipe: Bruschetta Zucchini Boats
Bruschetta zucchini boats make a great meatless meal
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Vegetarian
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 orange tomato, seeded and cut into pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper”
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh Basil, chopped {I use shredding scissors}
  • 4 zucchini
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. ) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. ) Slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller, scoop out the middle of the zucchini halves to create a “boat.” Bake in oven for about 5-7 minutes.
  3. ) In medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute on medium for 3-4 minutes until onions are softened and garlic is lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
  4. ) In a large bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, orange tomato, and garlic mixture. Stir to combine. Add balsamic vinegar and stir well. Mix in fresh basil.
  5. ) Spoon tomato mixture into zucchini cavities and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

It’s the end of April which means Mother’s Day is coming up fast, my friends.  I’m all about personalized and monogrammed items, so I wanted to find some ideas in some different price ranges to fit my likes and budget.  I recently discovered C. Wonder and quite honestly, fell in love. This post is brought to you by our friends at C. Wonder.

Chevron Stationary sets- I LOVE these. I still love to send and receive “snail” mail, and pretty papers and notecards just make me happy. A set of 8 with a monogram is just $10.00 and paired with a nice pen? A beautiful gift! monogram chevron stationary

One thing that stuck out to me about these gift ideas for Mother’s Day from C. Wonder is how many items there are at each price point in the guide.  On many sites I feel like the guides have a lot more included in higher price brackets and less included in more affordable price ranges, but C. Wonder seems to welcome all shoppers regardless of what their bottom line is.
cork jewelry box

There are gifts ranging from $10 and up over $200 on C. Wonder- and so many in between. I”m not going to lie- I think this is one of those sites where I’m all “oh, that’s a fabulous thing and I’l just get one for so and so and one for me…”  You can find fun and funky summer dishes, cutting boards, cheese knives and so much more. There are shoes, jewelry and clothing on C. Wonder as well. Be warned, you may spend a lot of time perusing C. Wonder before you leave the site….

cork bowls

I love monograms and personalized items. I think it stems from being a girl named Brett my whole life.  No one ever had “Brett” Items to buy and I was always left without. Now I can have it all monogrammed for me!


whalecutting board

Using the C. Wonder codes at Coupons.com will help you to get an even better deal on the guide items! That means you can save more and spend smart. I’d really like to find a coupon code to help me get this Harbor Tile Print wrap dress. I love the colors and the pattern on it!

c wonder dress

If you decide to  shop the Mother’s Day Gift Guide at C. Wonder, let me know. I’m curious to see what you choose too!

One (U.S. only) person will get the chance to win a $500 e-gift card to C. Wonder. The giveaway will end Friday, May 9, 2014.

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Mickey and Minnie Mouse Felt Bracelets Craft

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Felt Bracelets

mickey minnie mouse felt bracelets


Black felt

Red Felt

Red ribbon for bow

Blue flower shaped ribbon

Red & white polka dot ribbon

Black Velcro

minnie mickey felt bracelets supplies



Hot glue gun

Mickey Mouse shaped stencil


1. Cut a long strip of felt, 1″ wide. Place felt around wrist and cut felt to size of your wrist.

minnie mickey mouse felt bracelets cut

2. Cut a piece of ribbon to fit the length of the felt, minus 1″ inch.


3. Using the hot glue gun, glue ribbon to the felt. Make sure to leave room on the left end for the velcro.


4. If available, use Mickey Mouse stencil to trace and cut out shape from black felt. If you do not have a stencil use chalk to draw shape on black felt and then cut out. You will need 2 shapes per bracelet.

5. Hot glue 2 Mickey shapes together and then adhere them to the center of the bracelet. If you are making a Minnie Mouse bracelet cut out a small length of red ribbon and make a bow. Attach to her ear.


6. Lay the bracelet flat with the top side is facing you. Using the hot glue attach one piece of the velcro to the left side of the bracelet. Turn the bracelet over and attach the other piece of velcro to the right end of the bracelet. You should have a piece of Velcro at each end of the bracelet. One on the front and one on the back.

7. Wrap around wrist, attach Velcro together and wear.


Join us for the Purina Cat Chow #WhyWeightPledge Twitter Party! Tonight!

Please come and join us for the Purina Cat Chow Twitter Party.  We’ll be discussing overweight cats and ways to help them live a healthier lifestyle. There will, of course, be prizes!




Join @StacieinAtlanta and @ToneItUp

along with panelists: @CatsOutofTheBag @crissy @jollymom @DaddyMojo @DrErnieWard @brettbmartin

Make certain to follow us all on Twitter so you can keep up with the conversation.


#WhyWeightPledge Twitter Party


Twitter beginning at 8PM EST on Wednesday, April 23, 2014


1 Lucky reader who RSVP’s ahead of time http://bit.ly/1nk7bAf  will win a prize at the start of the party.

This prize pack includes: 1-year’s supply of Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight  and Purina Cat Chow Prize pack

During the party, we will be giving away:

(3) Prizes: $50 American Express gift card, three-months supply of Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight and Purina Cat Chow Prize pack

(1) Grand Prize: $100 American Expresss gift card, six-month supply of Purina Cat Chow Healthy Weight and Purina Cat Chow Prize pack

Click below to Tweet to help us get the word out



Our Raistlin was an overweight kitty.



Purina Cat Chow #WhyWeightPledge is asking people to take a minute determine if their cat is at a healthy weight. Take the pledge today and get a free sample PLUS when they hit 100,000 pledges, Purina will donate $50,000 to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.


RSVP for the party:


This post is part of a sponsored conversation on behalf of Purina Cat Chow.  Opinions are my own.