Celebrating Every Day

AdvertisementThank you COOL WHIP for sponsoring this post. Join us on Facebook for inspiration and recipes for everyday treats. What you add makes it. #coolwhipmoms


Most people would probably look at how we celebrate traditionally major events and holidays and think that we are ruining them for our children. We try not to overdo it, preferring to keep things low-key and simple, without minimizing it.

Instead, we try to celebrate the every day, every day. We celebrate the fact that we are together. That we had a good week. That some one was complimented for good manners. Or that Randy returned from being on the road.

Some may say this waters things down and trivializes what’s important.

On quite the contrary. I believe that it is teaching our children to see the joy and beauty in every moment, and not just the things that we are told are worthy of celebration. Or to only celebrate on particular occasions or events.

It’s not about elevating the children’s sense of self-importance. It’s about gratitude and attitude. Christmas is not just one day, in December. We can celebrate Jesus’ birth in May or July, over several days. At the beach! A birthday is not something we celebrate only once a year – we are happy every day that our family members were born!

Along with that, we like to enjoy our food and be creative with it. We have become very particular about how and what we eat. But one thing we are determined to do is keep it fun, pleasurable and enjoyable. Each meal is a mini-celebration – something that should be colorful and tasty.

We take a lot of photos of our food creations, and one thing that is obvious as you look through them is that we love sprinkles and COOL WHIP Whipped Topping. (It’s perfect frozen or thawed!)

Duckie-shaped sprinkles on green beans.
Sprinkles and COOL WHIP topping a bowl of chocolate peanut butter steel-cut oatmeal.

Microwave Martini glass cake, with sprinkles and COOL WHIP.

Strawberries dipped in COOL WHIP and sprinkled with… well, SPRINKLES, next to a taco.

There is never a shortage of things to celebrate when you stop and think about it. You don’t have to look far. And nothing lights up a face like celebrating those moments that so many others might have missed or overlooked.

Celebrating is not reserved for special occasions. It’s part of our daily lives.

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.

One-List Life: Simplifying

Attention Publix Shoppers! From February 23–29 you can participate in P&G’s “One List Life” promotion, available exclusively at Publix: simply select any four fabulous participating P&G items and pick up a FREE Rotisserie Chicken while you’re at it! Learn more at www.savingspg.com.

After months of a steady flow of work, our business has really exploded recently. It is a great ‘problem’ to have, but it does mean simplifying other areas of our life. We try to avoid as much unnecessary stress as possible, especially when it comes to food and meals.

So, this deal could not have happened at a better time.

Yesterday was packed with several meetings, conference calls, designs to firm up with clients, and kids to shuttle around.

A day in overdrive.

Driving home from one of my meetings (with a sinus headache coming on hard) I was smacked with the realization that I still needed groceries.

Since I work from home, I prefer to shop during the week when I can, to avoid the weekend mad-dash to the store along with the rest of humanity. I considered putting it off, but when I remembered it was Thursday, and the weekend was knocking on the door, I headed my car on over to the nearest Publix.

(Side note: Can I just mention, that our Publix has the nicest cashiers and baggers? Honestly. I always leave that place feeling good about humanity)

Knowing my day was not over, I headed straight for the deli and grabbed a BBQ Rotisserie chicken for dinner (score one for simplicity!).

I had several other things to grab and stock up on: fruits and veggies, cheese, steel-cut oatmeal, dishwasher gel packs and fabric softener and a few “just because” items (their sushi is so good!).

I didn’t even have to hand them a coupon for the free chicken. It was deducted automatically at the register.

In and out. Easy peasy.

With four kids and a business, life is crazy enough. But throw in a bad sinus headache and the “One-List Life” promotion saved the day. By just purchasing (any four participating P&G) items already on my list, dinner was ready when I got home.

(*Here’s one other nugget of awesome: if you saved your January 29 P&G brandSAVER, there are coupons for Tide, Charmin, Pampers, Bounty, Iams, Pantene and Cascade that you can use on top of the promotional savings.)

Thank you to P&G for sponsoring my participation in this “One List Life” promotion. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.


It took me until I was in my 30’s to realize that the frizz in my hair was because I was blow-drying waves and curls.

Since I was a teen, I’ve wanted a gorgeous stick-straight bob. My hair always had other ideas.

I’m finally trying to play with the curls. Letting them fall around my face.


After straightening my hair for so long, it’s shocking to see the waves again.

I want to learn to embrace this hair of mine, but it’s so foreign to me.

Thankfully, I have an appointment on Wed. with my hair therapist. She’ll help me sort this out. *fingers crossed*

Sponsored Post: Metal Braces or Invisalign?

By the time I was in 5th grade, it became extremely obvious that I was going to need some sort of orthodontic work done, especially for my upper jaw. My teeth were so crowded, that there wasn’t much room for my teeth to come in. I had to wear an expander and spacers before I could even get my braces put on.

There are other known “mouth” related issues on both my side and the kid’s dad’s side (and no, I don’t mean anything ugly by that!), so I have watched carefully as each child has grown.

Abbie’s potential issues were apparent early on. Even as a little girl, she seemed to have a bit of a crossbite, and as her permanent teeth have begun growing in, I’ve been unable to deny that some sort of orthodontic work will need to be done.

So, earlier this week we arrived at the UAB School of Dentistry to have her (and her brother!) examined and discuss a plan of action for them both.

Basically… there is work to be done. 

I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s, so of course, I had the big clunky metal (OUCH!!) braces. But I was lucky: after just over 1.5 ys in braces, I was able to start 8th grade with a nice straight set of teeth.

I remember the pain, discomfort and issues associated with them: the sore teeth, the wires poking out and digging into the sides of my mouth, the food that would get stuck in them (eww!), the (temporary) end of my chewing gum habit…

Who would want to put there child through that if there were a better option?

That is where Invisalign Teen comes in:

“Invisalign Teen is a clear, plastic aligner therapy that was developed with leading orthodontists who understand the active lifestyles, unique treatment and compliance needs of teens. An effective alternative to metal braces, the new Invisalign Teen product combines the benefits of the proven Invisalign Full system with new features like blue Compliance Indicators that are designed to gradually fade as the aligner is worn, Eruption Tabs that accommodate the growth of secondary molars, and other features that address clinical needs common to teen patients.

Invisalign Teen treatment is ideal for busy parents because there are never any emergency appointments from broken wires or brackets. And you spend less time at the orthodontist’s office, with fewer appointments and less chair time for uncomfortable tightenings.”

emphasis mine

Seriously? Less hassle, fewer appointments, and features that were designed with teen patients in mind?

I did a thorough scouring of the Invisalign site and other information that was made available to me, and was amazed by how ridiculously easy it all looks.

Here is some of what I learned, specifically pertaining to the Invisalign Teen aligners:

  • Invisalign treatment consist of several smooth, comfortable removable plastic aligners, that look very similar to a teeth cleaning tray.
  • Your teen will receive a series aligners from the orthodontist, approximately every six weeks.
  • The aligners should be worn 20 to 22 hours per day but they can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing.
  • Invisalign Teen differs from the adult version due to three new features that were designed specifically for a patient in the teen age-group:

1) “Compliance Indicator” which allows parents to ensure that their children are wearing the aligners for the proper amount of time.
2) “Eruption Tab” to accommodate for erupting teeth (teeth that are not in yet or partially in).
3) “Power Ridges” “are incorporated into aligners designed to help achieve certain difficult tooth movements”. (I had to dig deeper to understand what this meant, but essentially, the ridges create a better bond that allows for more effective straightening results due to better torque at the root, as the teeth move)

  • And because we know how easily kids misplace things, Invisalign Teen allows for six free replacement aligners.

Invisalign  makes a product for adults as well. The clear, nearly invisible look is what makes them especially appealing for adults.

I’m not sure of the route we will take, as we have just started this journey. While the cost can be comparable, since our insurance does not cover orthodontic work, cost will be a huge factor and influencer in our final decision.

But how amazing is it that we now have OPTIONS when it comes to teeth straightening?

Hopefully, one day, no one will have to suffer through being called a “Metal Mouth” or “Tinsel Teeth” again.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and compensation was provided by SITS Girls and Invisalign via Gold PR. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of the post sponsors.

capturing our life: photo apps

(both photos: taken with instagram)

A lot of the posts that I’ve been wanting to write on Living the Life Fantastic have been inspired by a photo. A memory triggered from a moment captured and placed on the hard drive of my computer.

I’ve always loved taking photos, but, although I have a good eye, I’m admittedly not very good at it. My iphone has been a huge help in allowing me to always have a camera at the ready. I have a fancy schnancy DSLR. But it is usually too cumbersome to carry around, especially when I know that what I take will usually turn out shaky and poorly lit. (Maybe a cute camera bag would help? Or… maybe I just need to finally learn how to use it?)

Give me a good app from the iTunes store and I’m good to go in the photography department.

So on that note, here are some of my favorites that I regularly use:

Instagram (free)
A photo social network. I’ve been having so much fun being social with my photos and seeing what other people are doing with theirs. Right now, it is relatively new, so it feels more intimate, but it is growing at an insane pace. I take photos with my camera, and sometimes edit them in other apps before pulling them on into Instagram and sharing them.

(If you join: I’m KarlaArcher)

(taken with camera, edited in TiltShiftGen, finished in instagram)


TiltShiftGen ($.99)
the purpose of this app is creating photos that looks like you are taking photos of tiny things. I haven’t perfected that technique, but I love the blur and saturation options.

(taken with TiltShiftGen)


PictureShow ($1.99)
FUN! and I love the sound it makes when you move from option to option. I doubt I’ll ever use some of the filters, but I still love looking at what they all can do. I especially love the grungy looks.

(taken with PictureShow)


Polarize (free)
I like being able to write on the photo, and the retro color is awesome. (High Res output)

(taken with Polarize)


Fun Camera (free)
This is so fun to play with; we all get huge laughs from it! It does put an ad on the photo, but just crop it off.

(taken with iphone camera. brought into Fun Camera app [for sparkles], and finished in instagram)

Old Photo Pro (free)
The edge effects in this one are great, and the antiquing effects looks really pretty. Love the “scratchy” look as well.

PS Express (free)
I mainly use this for cropping, but also like the softening and sharpening effects.

Your Turn: What photography apps do you use and love?