Buzz Off, Bugs! Tips to Rid Backyards of Mosquitoes


It’s the season for warm sunshine, pool days, tan lines and outdoor barbecues. Unfortunately, unseasonably wet weather in the southeast has also heralded the return of pesky mosquitoes. The experts at Pike Nurseries have tips and tricks to deter everyone’s least favorite flying bugs, including some tried and true prevention methods.


  • Prevent the event – The best way to assure uninvited guests don’t invade garden spaces is to keep them from setting up residence in the first place. To prevent mosquitoes from ruining the next backyard barbeque, remove all standing water. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant, standing water, so anti-insect gardeners are encouraged to empty any standing water left in flower pots saucers, remove debris piles, and to and clean bird baths regularly. Dropping Bonide Mosquito Beater water soluble pouches into fish ponds or spots of standing water will stop the lifecycle by killing mosquito larvae, all without harming fish or other aquatic organisms!Citronella-Geranium-in-pot
  • Repel with smell – Some plants and oil scents found around the house can repel mosquitoes. Gardeners of all skill levels looking to rid spaces of these pesky bugs should place these aromatic plants around patios, porches and in containers near outdoor gathering areas. Lemon thymerosemary and lavender all contain oils that repel mosquitoes. Crushing these plant leaves will release the scents and oils that can be rubbed onto the skin and serve as a DIY bug repellent. Citrosa (citronella) scented geranium produces a citronella scent when leaves are compacted – another great bug spray alternative! In addition, adding lemongrass to gardens and outdoor areas helps chase away mosquitoes and doubles as the perfect addition to any summertime beverage! For the savvy entertainer, the Amazon Lights citronella candle is the best repellent for patio parties. These pest-fighting candles have a blend of aromatic essential oils from Brazilian andiroba, citronella, rosemary and thyme.
  • Lather up and conquer – A common mistake among outdoor enthusiasts is to apply sunscreen on top of insect repellant. However, when used together, the products often deactivate each other. For best results, the experts at Pike Nurseries recommend using Sunsect insect repellant and sunscreen to tackle both tasks. Originally developed for the U.S. military, this product allows hard working gardeners to kick back for a day in the sun without worrying about bothersome bugs.Thermacell_Mosquito-Repeller_MR-LJ-Black-RepellerBonide-Mosquito-Beater-RTS-Qt
  • Bye bye, bugs – Thermacell is the ideal mosquito repellent to cover large areas. It’s portable (clips onto a belt or waistband), odorless and creates a 15 foot mosquito-free zone, making it ideal for gardening, mowing the lawn, camping, hiking and grilling. Bonide Mosquito Beater fogger is another great option for eliminating bugs in big backyards! Before spending time outside, simply spray the fog around the perimeter of the yard. The fog will instantly eliminate pests in the area for a few hours per use. For more serious mosquito infestations, Pike Nurseries experts recommend the DynaTrap. The trap produces carbon dioxide to lure in the pests, and then traps and eliminates them. The DynaTrap is available in several sizes and is safe to use around kids and pets.

For more information on repelling mosquitoes, please visit Pike Nurseries online at

Maggiano’s Little Italy Gives Back with Brunch with a Purpose


Maggianos Brunch with a purpose


Tuesday evening I had the honor of attending an event at Magginao’s Little Italy in Buckhead to learn about their partnership with Make-A-Wish Georgia. If there was not a reason to love Maggianos more than I already do, well, they just helped me to fall deeper in love!  Over the last 14 years, Maggiano’s has raised more than $7 million and helped to grant more than 900 wishes for Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. This year’s campaign is centered all around brunch, and Maggianos is inviting guests to “Brunch With A Purpose,” where $1 will be donated to Make-A-Wish for every brunch entrée ordered.


Our evening began with learning about how Maggiano’s has played a role in Make-A-Wish Georgia throughout the years.  We had the honor of hearing the story of one of our local recipients, Ellie,  an 11-year-old born with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).  Ellie has a passion for cooking and enjoys watching Master Chef Junior.  Make-A-Wish Georgia granted her wish along with the help of Chef Gordon Ramsay to be an honorary judge on Master Chef Junior.   Later in the evening, this delightful young girl shared her love of cooking with us as she assisted Executive Chef Thomas Wenning of Maggiano’s Little Italy in Buckhead in making Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.

Ellie Make a Wish GA

After listening to Ellie’s father talk about his daughter and the outpouring of support that Maggiano’s Little Italy has shared with this precious family, we had the opportunity to taste Maggiano’s brunch items.  They were absolutely scrumptious!

Crab Cake Benedict and Meatball Benedict

Served on an English muffin and covered in hollandaise sauce,  these benedicts were full of flavor.  The creamy sauce and crispness of the muffin balance the delicate tenderness of the crab and the juicyness of the meatball.

Maggiano's Brunch with a Purpose

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

 As someone who loves anything lemon, these were heavenly!  Made with lemons and ricotta, these pancakes were light, fluffy, and amazingly delicious!

Maggiano's Brunch with a Purpose

Vegetable Frittata 

Layered with Shiitake Mushrooms, Spinach, Roma Tomatoes, Smoked Mozzarella, and Crispy Vesuvio Potatoes, every bite of this frittata was bursting with flavor.

Vegetable Frittata Maggianos

Creme Brulee French Toast

Yes!  My favorite dessert of all time in French toast form.  Served with strawberries and powdered sugar, this Cranberry Raisin Focaccia was to die for.  I could seriously just eat these all day long!

Maggiano's Brunch with a Purpose


So why not choose Maggiano’s Little Italy for your next brunch.  Now through August 2, you can help Maggiano’s meet their goal of raising more than $1 million.  That is enough to help them grant their 1,000th wish for children like Joshua, who has a progressive muscle disease. Joshua’s wish is to receive a service dog to assist him with daily tasks such as opening a door, picking up dropped items and much more.


It’s a win-win for everyone!  You get to enjoy such items as Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, The Meatball Benedict, Crab Cake Benedict or Crème Brûlée French Toast.  You can even order Wish Lemonade and they will donate an additional 50 cents. Not in the mood for brunch, you can also support Make-A-Wish by doing the following:

Order dessert from Maggiano’s monthly chef’s features and $1 will be donated to Make-A-Wish.

Give $10, get $10. For every $10 and above donation, guests will receive a Star Card with a special offer for their next Maggiano’s visit.

Donate online at

Brunch Dishes Maggianos

Want to know more about the partnership between Maggiano’s Little Italy and Make-A-Wish? You can read about it here.

Should you choose to have Brunch with a Purpose, we would love to see your photos.  Share them on Twitter and/or Instagram using #EatADish4MAW











Maggiano's Brunch with a Purpose

Back to School & College Shopping Made Easy with Groupon Coupons


I do not know about you but I am all for saving some money when I can.  Nowadays you can find all kinds of helpful tips and programs out there to do.  Last year I had shared with my readers the 52-week savings plan. I am sad to say that I did not follow through with it as I had wanted.  Life just kind of happened and other things took away from us putting back for a rainy day.   This year my family has been busy saving all those pennies we have lying around our house and better yet…those that we FIND all over the place.  Rather than pass that penny up lying in the super store parking lot, we pick it up and add it to our stash!

That is not the only way that we are saving money though!  We are coupon clippers!  We are always looking for coupons to help us cut costs when eating out, traveling, and grocery shopping. We also like to do some of our shopping online, and that is when coupon database websites come in handy!  Unfortunately, trying to find a reputable company that provides coupon codes can prove challenging.  There is nothing I hate more than going to a coupon database site and finding the perfect coupon code only to find out it is not working!

One of our favorite one place stops to shop is Groupon.   Groupon is a great place to save money on experiences, events, travel, and more.  They offer a variety of experiences to choose from across the United States.  What you may not realize is that Groupon is a great place for regular ole’ coupons!  You know the ones that save you money at stores you really shop at!

Right now many of us are starting to head out to the stores to purchase those Back to School items.  Finding coupons to save money on those supplies is important, and Groupon Coupons can help!

Right now Office Depot/Office Max have 33 coupons on Groupon that are going to make you smile!  As a teacher, Office Depot is the place where I go to get all my Back to School shopping done.  It is the place that I know will have in stock what my students and I will need for another exciting school year.  One of my favorite delas they have going on now through July 29th  is to save 30% off a qualifying $30 order of school supplies with an online coupon they offer.


Target Back to School

Do you have a college aged child heading back to the dorms this year?  Groupon Coupons has something to make your wallet happy!  On the Groupon site there are 71 deals and coupons for Target. One of my absolute favorite deals for Target is $5.00 off $50.00 plus free shipping! This deal is not only good online but, in store as well. They also have 30% off in their home department.  I could shop Target’s home décor section for hours.  Have your child register what they need with the Target College Registry, and you can get a 15% off coupon and free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

Groupon Coupons

Groupon Coupons is a great place to go to save money! With over 9,000 retailers, you have got over 70,000 coupons, promo codes and deals to choose from.   Have you tried Groupon yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Groupon is so simple to use and is free. Whether you are looking for deals on your favorite restaurant or you are looking to save money on your shopping trip, Groupon has you covered.

28 Day Weight Loss Journey with Personal Trainer Food

Personal Trainer Food

Summer is quickly coming to an end for me as pre-planning is a week away.  After enjoying many summer BBQs and homemade ice cream, the time has come for me to settle in and try to lose some pounds.  With so many options out there for weight loss, one thing is for sure!  The food you choose to eat is truly what makes a difference.

Dieting is more than just a program that you follow or a medicine that you take, it is about a lifestyle change.   I know you have probably heard that before, and so have I.  The problem is we want that quick fix and that is why we tirelessly try diet after diet.  Sometimes we find that we are successful but then find ourselves back in the same situation once the weight comes back.  Why does it come back?  Because we did not make the lifestyle change.  Making those lifestyle changes can be hard, but it can be easier when a company plans out something that helps you get your lifestyle going in the right direction.

Personal Trainer Food

Personal Trainer Foods is a weight loss home meal delivery company that helps people achieve their weight loss goals.  How?  Easy, they have taken the guesswork out of what you eat.  They plan it for you and deliver it right to your door.  With over 800 meal combinations, you will find a plan that works for you.  That is why I I am happy to announce that I will be on a weight loss journey with Personal Trainer Food for the next 28 days. With my delivery of a box packed full of food, this girl is ready to begin a new chapter of her life. One that includes feeling better about myself so that I can be around for my children and grandchildren.

Here is what they offer:

Great Tasting, Full Portions of Food

Personal Trainer Food offers great tasting food high in protein, good carbs and healthy fats with no heavily processed food products. Our food is cooked and flash frozen to preserve freshness and flavor. No fillers, hidden sugars, bad carbs or trans fats and low or no gluten.”

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

“The right foods combined with good routines can lead to quick and healthy weight loss. The proven Personal Trainer Food program is designed to help you quickly lose weight the right way and give you a system to keep it off.”

A Winning Plan

“Good habits are the keystone to losing weight. Personal Trainer Food combines great food with daily routines to build healthy habits that help you achieve your goals and maintain your results. No complex points or counting systems involved.”

Your Best Value

“Many weight loss meal plans can cost over $600 a month! Hidden fees, contracts, support costs and additional food are commonly required. With Personal Trainer Food, you get better food, free support and free shipping with no hidden fees.”




So why not follow me the next 28 days as I focus on eating natural foods like meats, eggs, vegetables, nuts and cheese while avoiding sugars, starchy foods and processed fillers like rice, gravies and pasta.  I am looking forward to beginning this weight loss journey and reporting what happens each week here on the blog and Twitter.  Feel free to follow along at .   I will be using the hashtags #personaltrainerfood and #weightloss.

Disclosure: I received a Personal Trainer Foods in exchange for my review. All opinions presented are 100% mine. 

Getting 8 Hours of Sleep with the Help of Empyrean Sheets


8 hours of sleep

Sleep!  What is that?  With a 20-month-old and a 4-month-old, that word is something I long for.  Trying to get in 8 hours a night is tough with feeding schedules and regular life commitments.  After doing some research, I concluded that there are a few ways that I can indeed get in those 8 hours of sleep; however, I have to make a conscientious effort to do the things that will allow me that much-needed rest my body is craving.

  1.  Schedule It – Plan for a bedtime and stick with it.  If this means you have to put the kids down earlier, then that is what you need to do.  Your body is not going to get the rest it needs until you are willing to schedule it in.  Think about when you need to get up each day and plan accordingly.  It may take some time to get your kids on a schedule, but if you work at it, it will happen.
  2. Cut out caffeine after 5 pm or earlier, depending on how your body responds to it.  Think about it!  Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for up to 8 hours.  If you are drinking soda, tea, or coffee, you are fueling your body with energy.  It will be hard for you to rest and fall asleep if you have just finished off your 4th cup of caffeine for the night.
  3. Review medications to make sure that is not a factor.  Check the labels of the items you are taking.  You may be surprised to learn that some of them are contributing to your inability to fall asleep.
  4. Limit use of technology when going to bed or stop it altogether.  Technology can suck us in and keep our brains engaged when we are trying to settle down for the night.  Consider placing the technology AWAY from the bed so that you are not tempted to pick it up.
  5. Use lavender or chamomile scented items to help set the mood.

I realize that those tips or suggestions are a lot easier said than done.  Even with our best attempts, life happens and that bedtime we plan for sometimes gets pushed off to the side. Whether you plan for it or not, there are ways to get a good night’s rest.  Consider the sheets you have on your bed.  Believe it or not, the sheets you choose to use can impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep.  Using sheets that are breathable and ultra-soft provide the comfort you need.   Empyrean Sheets pride themselves on being a trusted company with a quality product and going the extra mile for their customers.

Empyrean Sheets

Recently we were sent the Empyrean Premium Queen Sheet set in charcoal gray.  This four piece luxury bedding set included a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillow cases.  Along with our set, we were sent specially designed corner elastic straps that help to prevent the sheets from getting out-of-place.

Empyrean Sheets

When I finally stopped “oohing and aahing” over the fact that I had something that was going to ensure my sheets stayed in place, I took out the sheets to put on our bed.  From the moment I placed my fingers on this microfiber fabric, I knew these were going to feel fabulous against our skin.  Empyrean uses a  microfiber that many health care facilities use because it’s hypoallergenic and has antibacterial properties.  This is comforting especially with a new baby in our home.  This added protection of comfort helps ease this momma’s mind.

Even after just one night’s sleep on these sheets, we could feel the difference.  The fabric is extremely comfortable and rather than hold one leg out each night to make sure my body stays somewhat cool,  this girl’s legs stayed in the sheets all night long!   Now that says something!

Empyrean Sheets
Reasons to Love Their Sheets
# 1 Best Selling Sheets on Amazon
Highest Strong Quality Linen
Smart Solution Corner Straps
Hypoallergenic, Eco-friendly
Super cool and breathable
Fade, stain, and wrinkle resistant
Deep Pockets Fitted for Today’s Thicker Mattresses
Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee Included
Empyrean Sheets
With 13 beautiful color choices,  you will be able to find the one that fits you perfectly.
We know that you will LOVE sleeping on Empyrean Sheets!
Right now you can win your own set of these sheets.
Margaritaville Panama City Beach

Margaritaville, Where it’s Always 5 O’Clock

Margaritaville Panama City Beach

Vacation time in Panama City means relaxing on the beautiful white sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico and eating some amazing food from local restaurants.  My family and I recently visited the area for a much-needed escape from our daily lives, and we found that the waves were calling us to dine at Margaritaville.   Having never been to one before, we were not sure what to expect. The overall atmosphere of Jimmy Buffett’s Caribbean themed restaurant, based on his lyrics and life, was inviting and fun.  It is like having Jimmy as your personal tour guide, and you have escaped to an island where it is 5 o’clock all day!

Margaritaville Panama City Beach

Margaritaville Panama City Beach

Located on Front Beach Road at Pier Park, this two story restaurant provided a welcome escape from the sun and warm temperatures.   It was easy to sit back and feel like you were in a native in the islands enjoying some refreshing beverages and delicious menu items while gazing at the waves crashing on the shore from the Porch of Indecision.

Margaritaville Panama City Beach

Whether you are a Parrothead or not, you will enjoy Margaritaville’s great atmosphere.  The variety of music and several large screen TVs will provide lots of enjoyment.  You will even be entertained by the unique abilities of an amazing balloon artist on stilts.

Margaritaville Panama City Beach

Margaritaville Volcano Nachos

Our server, Dawn, was attentive to our needs and helped give us recommendations of what to eat and drink. We started off with something we had seen on their menu, the Volcano Nachos. Little did we know just how BIG this plate of “molteny” goodness would be. Topped with chili, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños, tomatoes, and scallions, this appetizer was erupting with flavor. Despite the best efforts of five, we couldn’t even finish this mound of nachos!  It was MORE than enough for a family and then some.

Margaritaville Peel and Eat Shrimp

Margaritaville has quite an extensive menu with items that are sure to tempt your taste buds. My husband enjoyed the tender shrimp simmered in beer with lemon and Old Bay seasoning with their own Key West cocktail sauce and lemon.  My husband described it as, “A wonderful taste of the sea without being overpowering.”

Margaritaville Spinach and Strawberry Salad

The Spinach and Strawberry salad tossed in a Sherry Vinaigrette was my choice for an entree. Made with fresh baby spinach and topped with ripe strawberries, crisp apples, candied pecans, and bleu cheese crumbles was delicious.  Every bite was the perfect combination of flavor.

Margaritaville Bison Burger

Our boys enjoyed the Bison Burger, which I like to call “Bison Cheeseburger in Paradise!” Served with french fries and a dill pickle, this scrumptious and mouth watering bison burger was topped with gouda cheese, tomato, lettuce and BBQ aioli. The burgers were moist, full of flavor, and very filling.

Margaritaville Last Mango in Paris

From the Boat Drinks Menu, we chose the Last Mango in Paris and a Frozen Watermelon Margarita. The Last Mango in Paris was served on the rocks, and made with Margaritaville Last Mango Tequila, Cointreau® Orange Liqueur, a house margarita blend and cranberry juice.   This drink was definitely smooth and sweet!

Margaritaville Frozen Watermelon Margarita

The Frozen Watermelon Margarita, garnished with a fresh lime wedge, was beyond refreshing and served in the famous “Booze in the Blender” cup.  Made with Margaritaville Silver Tequila, triple sec, watermelon purée and their house margarita blend, this specialty drink was strong, cold, and relaxing!  Just what I needed because it was 5 o’clock somewhere!

When life gives you limes, make margaritas at Margaritaville, Panama City Beach.  Here you can set your clocks to island time and drift away! Relax for a spell on the Porch of Indecision while enjoying some refreshing beverages and delectable menu items. If you are in the Panama City Beach area, this is a MUST!

Full Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary lunch to facilitate this review.  All opinions are 100% mine and were not influenced by Margaritaville. 

Celebrate National Blueberry Month

The experts at Pike Nurseries are celebrating National Blueberry Month this July with sweet tips on growing a successful crop of this delicious super fruit. The garden center is also sharing delicious ways to incorporate blueberries into tasty treats for the perfect summer snack. From planting the shrubs to getting the nutrients bodies need, gardeners will delight in learning the tips and tricks behind this fruit!

National Blueberry Month

Planting the Super Fruit 
While most people think of the blueberry as a summer fruit, the low-maintenance shrubs actually provide year-round interest in the garden and can last decades with the proper care. Blueberry bushes present dainty white flowers in spring, fruit in the summer, pretty red and yellow foliage in the fall and reddish brown twigs in the winter for a year-round show. The experts at Pike Nurseries recommend planting blueberry bushes in a sunny location (at least six hours of exposure a day) with acidic soil, which can be achieved by amending native soil with Pike Azalea, Camellia and Gardenia Planting Mix in a 50/50 ratio. Add an organic starter fertilizer, like E.B. Stone Sure Start, to prevent transplant shock and jumpstart healthy root growth. Water thoroughly at the time of planting to ensure the shrubs stay healthy, hydrated and produce the juiciest berries. Blueberry growers are encouraged to set a consistent watering schedule to keep soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Planting a variety of blueberry types helps create cross-pollination and can extend the harvest time, which in turn produces a more abundant crop!

National Blueberry Month

National Blueberry Month

Nutritious and Delicious
Along with their status as a low-maintenance shrub, blueberries are bursting with nutrients to help keep bodies balanced. Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center have reported that blueberries hold the top ranked spot for antioxidants in comparison to other fresh fruits and vegetables. By growing these berries, gardeners can reap some of the convenient, affordable and fresh benefits!

  • Eye-opening antioxidants – Loaded with carotenoids and flavanoids, blueberries are champions for keeping vision sharp. Studies have shown that eating three or more servings per day may even lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration!
  • Vitamin HQ – Consuming just one serving of blueberries per day delivers almost 25 percent of the body’s requirement of vitamin C. With just 80 calories and virtually no fat, they make the perfect healthy summer snack! Additionally, vitamin C aids in collagen formation for healthy skin, healthy gums and a strong immune system. Blueberries are also high in manganese, which helps the body manage cholesterol and control nutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Cancer fighters – Blueberries are also champion cancer-fighters, with compounds of pterostilbene and ellagic acid that help ward off and fight cancer. Additionally, their high fiber content is a perfect dietary supplement to assist against heart disease and strengthen cardiac muscles.

National Blueberry Month

These powerful berries can be enjoyed as a low-calorie treat with a morning smoothie or to top off a summer salad with some extra flavor. To get even more creative in the kitchen, add the immune-boosting berries to salsa or homemade popsicles! For recipe ideas, visit Pike Nurseries’ blueberry board on Pinterest at

The professionals at Pike Nurseries have all the expert advice for planting an array of luscious blueberry crops and how to keep them healthy and thriving! For more information and care tips, please visit your local Pike Nurseries location or visit