Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Five Inexpensive Ways to Instantly Upgrade the Interior of Your Home

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT. All opinions are 100% mine.

Looking to transform a space on a budget?  I'm sharing five simple ideas, that won't break the bank, to help beautify and give the room the new look you're going for.  
Our home refresh is in full swing!  I still have a to-do list that's as long as the Empire State Building is tall, but we've been tackling some projects over the past little bit that I can't wait to give you a peek at today! It's funny, because for the first little while here in our new-to-us, 1950's home, I felt like I was living in someone else's house.  It wasn't until we started making changes to it that it really started to become our own.  Since we're limited by a budget and can't do all the major renovations that I want to immediately, I started with some smaller, inexpensive projects.  But, they ended up having a huge impact on the overall look of the place. Here are five simple, cost-effective ways to really upgrade the interior of a home.

1. Paint.  It's amazing what a fresh new color can do to change the look of a room! When we moved into our home just over a year ago, this living room had four different colored walls-pink, purple, blue, and green.  Yikes! I knew this needed to be one of the first projects we undertook-getting rid of the previous homeowners' clashing tastes.  :) Paint is one of the most cost effective, easiest ways to transform a space!  We love spending time in this room now that there's not so much going on, on the walls and the room looks so much classier in this new, calming blue/gray hue!  Good riddance pink, purple, blue and green walls.  Ha!
2. Add Baseboards.  This seems like a total no-brainer, but most of our house didn't originally have them and it's been bugging me for the last year! There's just something about trim that gives a space the "finished", clean look.  The hubby and I conquered the living area this past weekend together.  I did the removal of the pitiful existing "trim" (if you can call it that) and caked-on caulk while he did the cutting. I'll give you quick run-down of how we did it.
You'll first want to make sure the area is clean of debris.  In our case, that meant removing the small wood edging pieces, old caulk, and then sweeping.  Next, measure your space and use a power saw to cut your baseboards to size.  You may need to do some seams, depending on how long your wall and baseboards are.  You'll need to cut at 45 degree angles for the corners and seams, ensuring they'll fit flush together.   Use a nail gun (this will make your life MUCH easier) to set the boards in place.  Use painter's acrylic latex caulk to fill in the gaps where the seams meet and any areas that aren't exactly flush with the wall or floor.  Use wood filler to fill in the nail holes, paint the baseboards and that's it!  We still need to paint ours, but I'm planning to do that when I give the walls a fresh new coat in a few weeks.

3. Add an Area Rug.  Our home has beautiful wood floors, but definitely needed a little something to bring it all together.  Rugs provide a warmth and give interest and character to a space.  Plus, my kids would much rather play there than on the hard floor.

4. Consider Furniture Rental.  Moving can be such a hassle (the myriad of emotions from relocating our family last year are still lingering in my mind), so if you're one of those people who do it often, furniture rental is the way to go! It removes a lot of the fuss from an already stressful time, since it can be there when you need it and gone when you no longer need it. CORT Furniture Rental is the national industry leader in the furniture rental space.  They offer move-in ready packages in many beautiful styles and at varying price points.  This is perfect for big city living too! Or those times when you're starting over or accept a job that may be temporary and don't want to invest in a furniture set quite yet.   CORT is ideal for those times in life when you need some flexibility, but still want to have a nice, put-together place to come home to every evening and kick up your feet.  Because we all know how furniture really makes a house feel like a home. If you're looking for a non-committal, temporary way to spruce up a space, you may find it convenient to rent furniture.
5. Tidy Up! This is possibly the easiest method for making a space look nice. :) A quick pick up goes a long way to making a space livable and relaxing. I set the timer for ten minutes every evening as part of our bed time routine and the kids help pick up their toys and belongings.  It does wonders!   What tips would you add to this list?  Are you working on any home projects right now? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section below!
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Monday, August 29, 2016

Apple Snickerdoodle Bars

Fall and apple season is almost upon us! Get a jump start on delicious desserts using in-season fruit with these phenomenal cake-and-cookie-cross Apple Snickerdoodle Bars!
When the kids head back to school, it always gets me excited for autumn.  I love summer time and all the joys and excitement it brings when I'm having adventures with my family, but there's just something refreshing about when the weather starts to cool down for the first time in a long while and I can bust out those skinny jeans and boots again.  :)

Not to mention the scrumptious confections that accompany the season.  Pumpkin and apple treats are some of my favorites!  

Do you have an apple tree? I'm super envious if you do! Fresh-off-the-tree apples are like candy to me!  I could eat them by the bushel.
If Apple Cake and Pie collided with Snickerdoodle Cookies, this would be the glorious result.  To finish it off, I drizzled it in white chocolate, but a big 'ol scoop of vanilla ice cream on top would do just fine too.

 The apples lend not only a delightful complementary taste, but really boost the texture and give these bars a perfect moistness as well.  Now don't even get me started on that cinnamon sugar topping that forms a crust over the soft base... it's THE STUFF! 
You're either going to love me for this one or seriously hate me when that pan disappears all too fast. These will really test your self control, but that's what I'm here for.  I failed this this particular test, so maybe you can join me and we'll have a pity party and console ourselves with more of these exquisite bars.  Sound like a plan?


1 heaping cup peeled and finely-diced tart apple (I like to use Granny Smith)
1 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt

For drizzling:
1/3 c. white chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray an 8"x8" dish with nonstick cooking spray or grease it.  Begin by stirring together 1/4 c. sugar and 3/4 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl.  Peel and dice apples, then place in a separate bowl and sprinkle and toss with lemon juice.  Toss 1 Tbsp. of the sugar/cinnamon mixture over the diced apples and stir, ensuring they're nicely coated.  Set aside remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture.

For the bars, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Add flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt and mix until incorporated.  Stir in apples.

Spread mixture into prepared dish, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture, and bake for approximately 23-26 minutes, checking at 23 minutes and every few minutes thereafter by inserting a toothpick into the center. You'll want to bake them just until the toothpick doesn't come out with gooey dough on it.  Moist crumbs are great.

Allow to cool completely, then melt white chocolate chips and drizzle over.  Cut into squares and serve.
Is it it a cookie?  I'll let you be the one to decide!

You'll feel like you just found the golden ticket with each magnificent bite of these bars! Try them and let me know what you think!  I can't get enough of them!

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Breakfast to Go (plus $100) Giveaway

Hello friends! It's time for another wonderful giveaway! I've teamed up with a bunch of blogging friends to bring you the chance to win some fun prizes, including $100! Back to school can be hard on the wallet, so who wouldn't love a little extra spending money right now?  

This month's giveaway is sponsored by Katherines Corner, Katherines Corner Shop and Marilyns Treats. The cash prize is provided by Katherines Corner and some of her bloggy friends (listed below).

One winner will receive a Hamilton Beach Sandwich Maker, the Cookbook, "150 Best Breakfast Sandwich Maker Recipes" by Jennifer Williams ( this prize is valued at $65) AND $100 via PayPal or Amazon gift code (winners choice)!

Hamilton Beach, Jennifer Williams, PayPal and Amazon are not sponsoring nor do they have any connection to this giveaway
Your Hostesses for the Breakfast to Go giveaway are

To enter please log into the entry form using your email address or Facebook
Please remember to follow your sponsors and all of the hostesses so you can get all of your entries!
The Giveaway STARTS today August 26th and ENDS September 24th.

Good Luck In The Breakfast to Go Giveaway!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Frozen Raspberry Chocolate Cookie Crumble Pie

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackToSchoolReady #CollectiveBias

Back to school means busy, but that doesn't mean missing out on dessert! Today's easy, dreamy, delicious pie includes a chocolate chip cookie crust, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, crumbled cookies, chopped sugar cones, and a fresh homemade raspberry sauce! 
I'm going to make a very bold statement, but I think you'll back me up once you try this.  Today's chocolate ice cream, cookie, and raspberry pie should win confection of the year.  It's the type of thing that shows up on a fancy restaurant's dessert menu at a pretty price. Except it's made at home, so you can enjoy it whenever you please, and for much less moolah!

If there's one thing I always have time for, even when our schedules get jam-packed with "to do's" once school starts, it's enjoying a sweet treat.  I like to reward myself after a long day of playing taxi driver, tutor, chef, hair dresser, maid, babysitter, and the list could go on.  And what better way to do just that than with a cool and creamy delight like today's phenomenal creation?

I love my 'round the clock "job" as mother and wouldn't trade it for the world, but it can get exhausting at times (do you relate?), especially once those early mornings of getting the kids up, ready and out the door start again.
I've noticed that school is extremely draining on the kids. My once-Energizer Bunny children always try to tell me they're not tired when that 8:00 p.m. hour hits, as they're rubbing their red, droopy eyes and getting extra moody.  But, I try not to let their snippy behaviors get to me, because I know what's awaiting in the freezer after I tuck them into bed.  :)

This pie has a way of helping me wind down and hitting just the right spot in my tummy so I can conquer another crazy day with the kiddos tomorrow.  Because I need all the stamina I can get when I have to beat the sun up so I can serve breakfast, pack lunches, do hair, and make sure the kids have two shoes on their feet before heading out the door.
 Since I'm short on time and tenacity after back-to-school happens, and heaven knows I'm not about to skip the sweet treats because of it, I depend on staples like TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, DREYER'S Slow Churned Ice Cream, and DRUMSTICK® Cones to do most of the work for me.  This is just a sampling of the plethora of amazing products that Nestlé provides as a perfect solution for the Back to School season and busy moms.
All of these products are super easy to find Walmart.  

Guess what? From July 25 to September 15, when you purchase any two (2) 30 oz. or larger Stouffers products and at least one (1) refrigerated Tollhouse cookie dough product at a participating Walmart store you can get a $5 Walmart Egift card! Check out the dates and complete rules to find out how HERE.
  • Step 1 - Purchase products
  • Step 2 - Take a photo of your receipt, the image must be clear and legible, with the purchase date included and showing the qualified purchase.
  • Step 3 - Text NESTLEFAMILY to 35350
  • Step 4 - Once confirming you want to participate by responding 'YES', you will be prompted to send the image of your receipt.

And now onto the recipe!


Nestlé TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (1/2 a tube, or about 16 oz.)
1 1/2 qt. DREYER'S Slow Churned Ice Cream, Mississippi Mud Pie, softened

Raspberry Sauce:
1/2 c. mashed fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1/2 Tbsp. corn starch

1/4 c. fresh raspberries
Drumstick Cones, chopped
TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookie, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9" pie plate and prepare a cookie sheet by greasing it or lining it with a baking mat.  Make four 1 1/2" dough balls and place on the cookie sheet.  Use the remainder of the dough and press it into the pie plate, including up the sides.  You won't want it to be too thick.  Bake both for approximately 12-13 minutes.  While those are baking, prepare the raspberry sauce by adding 1/2 c. mashed raspberries, sugar, water, and corn starch to a small sauce pan.  Stir it constantly over medium heat just until it bubbles, thickens, and deepens in color.  Remove from heat immediately and let cool.  

When cookies are done, remove them to a cooling rack.  The cookie crust in the pie dish will puff after removing from the oven.  Allow it to cool for a few minutes, then gently press it down with your hands to flatten it.  

While the cookie crust is cooling (allow it to cool completely), set out ice cream so it can soften.  When it's to a spreadable consistency, spread it onto the cookie crust.  Top with chopped Drumstick Cones, cookie crumbles, fresh raspberries and raspberry sauce.  Cover with foil and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours, or until frozen through.

You'll feel like you hit the jackpot with this one!  So many good things, perfectly combined into one pie! Who doesn't love cookies and ice cream? I decided to put them together, because why not?  And then I threw in some chopped Drumstick Cones, fresh raspberries, TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookie crumbles, and finished it with a bang with a quick homemade raspberry drizzle.  The results are mind-blowing.  So tasty that you'll be scratching your head, wondering how it's possible for something to be that delectable.  So ridiculously scrumptious, it's laughable.  This may look like something out of a dream, but let me assure you, it's totally real.
Did the kids get to school today with two shoes on their feet, hair combed, full tummies and completed homework in their backpacks?  Then you not only deserve a big pat on the back, but a luscious slice of this pie.  The kids don't have to ever know. :)

But, on the other hand, something this good really can't be kept to oneself, so if you want to win mom of the year, dish out a slice for the family as well.  They'll love you forever for it!

Be sure to follow Nestlé Flavorful Moments on Pinterest for more yummy, easy recipe ideas!
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Chocolate Banana Bread

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StirImagination #CollectiveBias

Greet the kids after school with a slice of this soft and delicious Chocolate Banana Bread!  It's a snack they'll beg for time and time again!
My kiddos are back in school and for the most part are really liking it.  I can't say they're completely having a great time because of the homework that comes home each evening and with it the whines.  I'm not going to lie...I want to complain with them because I miss our free evenings.  Now they're occupied with reading, spelling, and math assignments, sight word quizzing and book reports.  My fourth grader is pretty independent about accomplishing it on her own, but my first grade son needs much more assistance.  It's all so worth it, though. I get a kick out of watching them progress in their education.

They're really enjoying reuniting with their friends again too.  I look forward to picking the kids up each day and seeing them beaming and then getting an earful about all the exciting things that happened on the playground and in the classroom.

My son even has his first crush, which he talks nonstop about. Does it seriously happen that early?  I need to meet this girl.  :)

He's apparently a "math superhero" in his class, which pretty much means he's the resident math expert. :)  Needless to say, he's a little too proud about that one.  He's pretty confident in his abilities in that area.  Too bad I can't take the credit for those genius genes...that's all his father.
As for my daughter, she's not so vocal about her day.  It's like pulling teeth to get out of her what went on for the last 6+ hours of her life.  So, even though she's naturally very reserved, as long as she's smiling, I take that as a sign that she's thriving there.

If there's one thing none of my kids are quiet about, though, it's their love of chocolate milk.
I can't get mad when they request it with their breakfast, because NESTLÉ® NESQUIK® Powder has 45% less sugar than the leading chocolate syrup brand, contains 7 essential vitamins and minerals and has no artificial colors or flavors.  Plus, it gives them 8g of protein when combined with 8 fluid ounces of low-fat milk!  Plus, it's got a cute bunny to stare at while drinking it!
I grabbed it at Target while I was doing some school shopping for the kids.  I love a good deal, so I'm going to let you in on this awesome one. Aug. 21st-27th, 2016 get 15% off 18.7oz Nesquik powder and 10 packs Nesquik Ready-to-Drink Bottles with THIS Cartwheel offer.

And you know how I'm a chocolate fanatic (I must've passed it on to my kids), so I incorporated our Nesquik into what I believe should be labeled the dessert of the century.  Today's sweet bread will bring endless praises.  Seriously, bring it to work, dinner with friends, playdates, or give it to the kids' teachers, and you will be stalked for the recipe!

The Nesquik really enhances the scrumptious chocolatey flavor.  This dessert gets even more moist and delicious the longer it sits. 
Adapted heavily from Allrecipes

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
4 large eggs
3 mashed very ripe bananas (or about 1 heaping cup)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. sour cream (full fat)
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1/4 c. Chocolate NESTLÉ® NESQUIK® Powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips plus 1/2 c., divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar and eggs.  Add mashed bananas, vanilla, and sour cream and mix until incorporated.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking cocoa, Nesquik, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until incorporated.  Stir in 1 c. chocolate chips.  Divide mixture evenly between prepared loaf pans and sprinkle the tops with remaining 1/2 c. chocolate chips.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes to one hour, checking at about 50 minutes and every few minutes after that, just until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for about ten minutes before carefully removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Wrap in foil when all cool.
I sent a slice with each of the kids in their lunch boxes, and boy were they happy when they saw what awaited them.  

I must think we're a family of monkeys when I purchase bananas, because I seem to buy them in bulk but we never can eat all of them before they start browning.  So this is the perfect way to not let them go to waste!  The bananas lend a wonderful flavor that marries perfectly with the deep chocolate taste. 
Is there any woman out there who doesn't want to hear they're the "best mom ever" when their kid bites into that slice of chocolate banana flavored heaven? My kids were doting on me for hours after snack time was over.  And I was just soaking it all in.  Because with all the commotion that regularly occurs around here, I will savor those few sweet moments of bliss and triumph. :)

And by the way, I want you to take all the credit for today's dessert.  Just nod your head in agreement when they call you the god or goddess of baking.  

I hope your family enjoys this winner treat!

What is your kids' favorite way to enjoy Nesquik?
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Southwest Tuna Pinwheels

After school snacking just got yummier with these Southwest Tuna Pinwheels! These will be a hit with the kids and the adults!  They're perfect for packing in lunch boxes too!

Growing up, we kids would jump off the big yellow school bus, burst through the door, and the first thing out of our mouths would be, "What's for the snack?" You might say we were hungry after a full day in the classroom and running around the playground. :)  My mom would always give us the look and say, "How about a "hello" first?!" 

My kids are no different than I was. All they care about when they first drop those backpacks to the floor and kick off the shoes is how they're going to fill their empty tummies and survive until dinnertime.  Yes, it's that dramatic at times around here.  Those growlings within will do that to you, I guess.
So I like to offer them one-of-a-kind tasty options that they won't soon forget like today's delicious tortilla roll-ups.  This is not your run-of-the-mill appetizer.  On the contrary, it's big on flavor and loaded with good-for-you ingredients like corn, black beans, tomatoes, and lots of Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore Tuna.  
With a firm texture, light color and fresh taste - Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore is the perfect ingredient to deliciously enhance most any recipe, adding a variety of nutrients - including lean protein, healthy fat and important vitamins and minerals.  It's quality you can see the moment you open the can! Go here for nutritional facts.

Bumble Bee® offers responsibly wild caught Albacore that is delicious, versatile, high in protein and absolutely perfect as the main ingredient in any meal or snack!  It's certainly the star of today's scrumptious concoction!
This is one of those satisfying handheld treasures that will make the kids want to go back to school, just so they can come home again to a plateful of this goodness.

The kids typically tackle their homework in between bites.  Because multi tasking is key when play time is limited. :)

I have to admit, I'm not quite ready to take on my role again as math tutor.  I've thoroughly enjoyed a summer free of the drama that comes when that story problem is "just too hard!" or "The teacher gave me way too many pages and it's not fair!"

But I am excited to watch my kiddos learn and grow as they are stretched and challenged in new ways.

And speaking of things that are difficult, these southwest style tuna pinwheels are NOT in the least! They are a cinch to throw together and the kids will surely give you a big bear hug for doing so!

Here's how to make them:
Makes about 18 pinwheels

12 oz. Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Pinch of Salt (or to taste)
3 Tbsp. Salsa Verde
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 oz. diced green chiles (about 1/4 c.)
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 c. diced fresh tomatoes
1/4 c. canned sweet corn, drained
1/4 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
Burrito size flour tortillas

Drain the Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water completely and add to a large bowl.  Use a fork to flake the chunks apart.  Add remaining ingredients (cream cheese, cumin, chili powder, salt, salsa verde, lime juice, green chiles, cilantro, diced tomatoes, corn, black beans and cheese) and stir to combine completely.  

Place a tortilla on a plate or cutting board and spread a big spoonful of the mixture out so it covers most of the tortilla (just leave about 1/2" around the sides).  Roll the tortilla up and slice into sections.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I gave myself a nice pat on the back and an A+ for an after school snack well done.

Learn more about how you can incorporate this tasty tuna into your favorite recipes on the Only Bumble Bee Albacore Will Do™ landing page via the Bumble Bee® website.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Rewards of Hard Work: Chocolate Pie and GREATER the Movie

This silky, indulgent Chocolate Pie with a handmade flaky crust is proof that the good things in life require effort and patience.  But your taste buds will applaud you in the end! Read on to see how this incredible pie fits into the story of Brandon Burlsworth, possibly the greatest walk-on in the history of college football.
Each summer, growing up, my siblings and I would help my dad plant and cultivate a large garden.  We beat the sun up every morning so we could hoe, weed, water and pick vegetables before it got too hot. There was lots of grumbling about the sleep we were missing, and how we wished we could just buy our vegetables at the store like every other normal person.  

But, when we popped those green peas in our mouth, straight out of the pod, or sat down to the dinner table to partake of that fresh corn on the cob, there was nothing more satisfying than knowing we played a part in it. The fruits (or you might say veggies) of our labors tasted extra sweet those times!

My parents were very intentional about teaching us first-hand the payoffs that follow hard work. My dad always said that the most worthwhile things in life are those that come at the highest price. 

We didn't always have the best attitudes as we accomplished our seemingly tedious tasks, but afterwards we really savored the results.  And now, I look back in appreciation for the lessons I learned in our garden.
There were no handouts at my house.  My siblings and I did assigned chores at home and took on odd jobs for neighbors, such as mowing lawns and babysitting, to earn spending money for outings with friends or special items we'd been eyeing at the store.

I pinched every penny so I could later purchase a full size violin when I outgrew my childhood beginner-size instrument. That violin is very dear to my heart because of all that went into acquiring it.

As a teenager, I got a job working at a local country store where I scooped ice cream cones, kept the fresh-picked orchard fruit in stock in the cooler room, served fudge, and kept the place looking nice and tidy. I carefully saved those funds and was able to pay my own way through college, with help from a scholarship and part time job, until I earned my degree four years later.  

I can hardly describe how much that very official, but nonetheless simple piece of paper means to me, knowing the countless hours of studying, the sleepless nights, the working on the side so I could make rent, and the many extra help sessions with T.A.'s and professors that all occurred, so I could make my future brighter.
These experiences are a little bit like this homemade pie, (that I teased you with on Instagram a few days ago) which came about after a great deal of patience and meticulous rolling and shaping, but the reward of the delightful result is unmatched!  I can't wait to share the recipe with you.
The hubby and I enjoyed a slice while watching GREATER the movie this past weekend.  It really hit home with both of us.

Brandon Burlsworth always wanted to play football, but athleticism didn't come naturally to him.  Nevertheless, with unbending determination on his side, even amidst the skepticism and relentless degrading remarks of others, he made the high school team, later walked onto a college team where he eventually became the most respected and driven player there.  
A coach who kindly took him under his wing gave him some wise counsel when he said that just because something doesn't come easy doesn't mean it's not worth working for.

Brandon took that to heart and was the first one to practice every day where he gave 110% and then was the last one to leave.  He overcame every obstacle that life dealt him and went on to gain the respect and utmost adoration from his once ridiculing teammates.

His mom was his greatest fan and urged him to keep going, even when the odds were stacked so high against him.  His brother never missed a game and was touched by Brandon's passion and perseverence.

Brandon's ability to put the naysayers out of his mind and to press on in the midst of difficult circumstances was admirable to say the least.
He won the hearts of everyone with his contagious optimism, straight-as-an-arrow ethics, and unwavering stamina, whether they were teammates, coaches, or onlookers in the stadium. 

I couldn't help but shed tears for him as he was bombarded by challenge after painstaking trial, but then I cried tears of joy when he constantly used his setbacks to fuel him forward and help his dreams come to fruition.  

His positive outlook on life and will to achieve the unlikely are an inspiration to all.  Watching him work so hard and never give up made me want to take on my own goals with renewed zeal.  
GREATER is a must-see movie.  I came out of it feeling uplifted and motivated to be better because of Brandon's stalwart example.  Brandon is proof that hard work pays off in big ways.

Have you watched the GREATER movie trailer yet?  If not, I really encourage you to do that below.  

This amazing movie hits theaters on August 26th, and believe me when I say that you don't want to miss it!  Be sure to check your local theaters for availability and show times. 

All this talk of toil leads me to today's dessert, this Chocolate Pie.  Homemade pies are always a labor of love (I've always believed they're a work of art), but this one will reward you a hundred fold for your efforts in making it!  You'll be so glad you did.

1 1/8 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. shortening
Ice Water

Chocolate Filling:
4 oz. Baker's German Sweet Chocolate Bar
1/4 c. evaporated milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. whipped topping

 **Go here for a tutorial for making a perfect pie crust.  For the crust, stir flour and salt together. Add shortening on top.  Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture forms pea-sized pieces.  Add a few Tbsp. ice water (ice water prevents the shortening from melting) and work into mixture with a fork, pushing aside the moistened portions.  Sprinkle ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time on dry areas, and continue working moistened parts to the side until all the dough is moist.

Form dough into a ball.  Press dough ball with the palm of your hand to flatten a bit.  Roll out on floured surface until about 2" wider than your pie plate. Scrape dough underneath with a metal spatula for a clean release from the counter top.  Fold dough in fourths to transfer easily to the pie plate.  Align dough so it overhangs by about 2", then unfold.

Trim dough so it hangs over the pie plate by about 1".  If some areas are scant, grab a piece of trimmed dough and use a few dabs of ice water to "glue" it to the area.  Fold dough under so a little of it sticks above the pie plate.  Now flute the edges using two of your fingers as support on one hand and your index finger on the other hand to press the dough between your fingers.  Be sure to press down so the dough will be right up against the pie plate.  This will prevent shrinking.

Prick the bottom and edges with a fork so the crust can breathe while baking.  Bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Let cool completely, then make filling.

For the filling, melt chocolate with the evaporated milk in a small saucepan over the stovetop on a low heat.  You can use a double boiler, but I didn't.  Stir often.  When all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, allow it to cool a little bit while you make the other portion.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Pour in the chocolate mixture and mix until smooth.  Fold in whipped topping.  Spread into pie crust, top with chocolate shavings if desired and refrigerate until ready to serve.
 I'd love to hear your story of something wonderful you've achieved through hard work!  You're going to love GREATER the movie!  It's one of those "feel-good" films that leaves you with the warm fuzzies inside. Trust me, you'll want to be the first one in those cushiony seats to watch it on August 26th!

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
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