9.23.2014

Welcoming Fall with an Adult Caramel Apple Cider

click here for a recipe for caramel apple cider

There are very few drinks that embody a season like caramel apple cider does.  The taste of cider and caramel just scream autumn.  What better way to kick off the fall season than with a drink that will surely impress your guests at your next party?

This drink is simple to make and tastes just as good when made without the alcohol.  Here's my disclaimer....I am not a bartender and fully admit to eyeballing this recipe.  No exact measurements were made...it's based solely on taste.

The first step is to gather your glasses.  Dip the rims in water and then quickly dip them into a dish of brown sugar.

Next, poor in a shot of Caramel Apple flavored vodka.  I used the brand above (this is not an endorsed post by the way but I will freely admit to loving this brand of vodka...so many flavors!!).

Add apple cider to taste.  I like to conceal my alcohol so I tend to add more cider than you may prefer.

Here comes my favorite part....caramel sundae sauce.  I use the kind in the squeezable bottle.  And I love caramel so I am quite liberal with the amount I add.

Stir your drink....and sip.

click for a recipe for a fall drink


Try it...one sip and you will be envisioning beautiful fall foliage, crisp temperatures, the smells of apples and pumpkins in the air.....

Cheers!

click for a recipe for a fall drink


Please take a moment and stop by and visit these lovely bloggers who are also celebrating the arrival of fall.






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What drink or recipe symbolizes fall to you?

The Adventures of Bug and boo
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9.22.2014

Grateful Heart Monday + The Adventures of Bug and Boo





Did you feel that?  That was the weekend passing us by in a flash.  Just like that it's over.  And here we are....staring Monday down.  Mondays aren't half as bad as they used to be, courtesy of Emily from Ember Grey.  Today is the day we share our gratitude.

Today I am thankful for the rain.  It stormed here last night.  You knew a storm was coming because the sky took on that purply-gray hue that only means that the skies are going to open up.

Why am I grateful for the rain?  It gives me the freedom to slow down.  All of a sudden, putting pajamas on at 4:00 in the afternoon seems like a brilliant idea.  Drinking another cup of tea almost seems like a requirement.  As the house darkens with the sky, dimming the lights makes everything look softer.  Sitting and relaxing is mandatory.

I love days and nights like this.

Know what else I am grateful for?  The lovely bloggers that choose to sponsor Love the Here and Now.



Meet Rebecca, the blogger behind The Adventures of Bug and Boo.  Rebecca amazes me....she just moved back to the US (about 2 1/2 hrs from me!) after living in England for awhile.  She has an Irish husband and an adorable daughter (Bug).  She's also expecting her second child.   All of this together is enough to exhaust me but she keeps plugging on, chipping away at the red tape of getting settled in the US and settling into her new life all with a smile on her face.

She recently answered a few questions for me and I thought I would share her responses with you.

How did you come up with the name for your blog?
When my daughter was born I called her my "Lovebug" and calling her that for ages eventually shortened into Bug :)  My nickname as a child, courtesy of my dad, was Boo.  It started out as Becca Boo Bear (my family - and any friends from pre 18 years old - called me Becca), then it became at times Becca Boo or Boo Bear, and eventually just became Boo.  It's one of those special things with my dad, he still calls me that at 32!  Because I started the blog writing about what my daughter and I were doing and what was new with us,  I just called it The Adventures of Bug and Boo - it made me smile and it made my husband smile, so I went with it.  :)

What are 3 words you would use to describe your blog?
Three words I would use to describe my blog.....honest, personal, and a bit of fun.  :)

You can go anywhere in the world...where are you headed?
If I could go anywhere in the world, and assuming that I've seen all of my family and friends in all of the locations that they're spread out, I would have to say Thailand!  I adore Thai food, I'd love to see Koh Samui and Pattaya and Bangkok....my friends just had their wedding in Pattaya and I was gutted that I couldn't go  - I still want to go see it someday (and visit them if they're still living there)!

Name 2 favorite things about yourself, 1 physical trait and 1 personality trait.
My favorite physical trait is my eyes - they look boring brown but they're actually all different colors.  My irises are green, blue, and brown in different places with specks of gold :)  (The official term is hazel ha but I love how they seem like a kaleidoscope up close!)  My favorite personality trait is empathy.  Whilst I am a really shy person in a big group, one on one I can almost always connect with someone and I think it's because I can usually put myself in someone else's shoes.  It is particularly strong if someone needs a hug or a shoulder to lean on.

What's the best advice you can give a new blogger?
I am a pretty new blogger too so I'm not a deep well of advice yet but my best advice from the last few months is to go out and connect with people!  Make friends!  Visit other blogs, comment on pages, participate in link ups - and email back and forth with people.  It's a wonderful way to build relationships  - I've gotten to know some pretty awesome people this way, Anne included :) - and in link ups you might boost a bit of traffic to your blog as well.


Seriously though...reread the answer to the 4th question.  Does she not seem so kind and sweet?   

You can follow Rebecca on Bloglovin', Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Just to make your Monday that much brighter I'm going to add in a giveaway as well.

PicMonkey Collage

After you enter this giveaway, hop over to Ember Grey and share what you're grateful for.  

Ember Grey

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9.19.2014

Inspiring Posts



And here we are again...Friday.  Did you hear that?  I think it was a big collective sigh of relief.  I feel a cold and aches coming on so I am looking forward to fighting the germs off this weekend. 

Enough about me though.  Fridays are for pointing out the bloggers that shared posts that I loved or inspired me this week.  This wonderful concept of Blogger Love / Friday Favorites is courtesy of my good blogging friend Meagan of All the Joys.  If the fact that she created a link up just to highlight others' posts doesn't clue you in on how sweet she is nothing will.

Here were my favorite posts this week (in no particular order).

10 Ways You Know You Are Not a Failure by Anastasia Amour.  We all have days when we feel like we can't do anything right.  Anastasia points out 10 ways for us to know that we are doing ok.  Great pick me up for the days where we are knocking ourselves down.

Another Person's Success is Not Your Failure by Something Winnderful.  The title of the post says it all. Read this post and truly focus on the last line of the post.  She hit the nail on the head.  This needs to be our mantra in the blogging world.

Early Morning Thoughts by Life Is.  Katie is a frequent flyer on my Blogger Love posts.  Her writing is amazing and heartfelt.  Honest and true.  I love this message: "I am mine before I am anyone else's." How powerful are these words? We all need a reminder to take care of ourselves and treat ourselves well.  Another must read from Katie.

When Marriage is Hard by A Beautiful Little Adventure.  It is a common theme in Blogland and social media outlets that lives are perfect.  The little snapshots we choose to show the world often tend to show the rosy side of life.  What we don't see is the real life behind the lens or the keyboard.  Marriages and families are often portrayed as perfect.  Katie reaches out and tells us that her marriage takes work and it is hard work at times.  Guess what?  She is 100% correct.  All marriages (and relationships in general) are tough work.  We all have our moments and we all have our disagreements.  This post was a nice reality check and a great reminder that you are not alone.

A Love Letter to the Parts of Me I Hate by A Mama Collective.  I loved this concept....finding something to appreciate and embrace in the parts of ourselves that we do not like.  What a great idea!

So those are five posts this week that I loved.  Be sure to check them out and then link up with All the Joys and share your favorites from this past week.  



The Adventures of Bug and boo
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9.18.2014

Blogging 101: Choosing to Offer Sponsorships

click for blog sponsorships

When I first started blogging I had no clue what it truly entailed.  Write a post, add some pictures, hit publish.  That seemed to be the extent of it.  I quickly realized that there is so much more to blogging and that it is one of those things that the more effort you put into it, the more you received out of it.  I started engaging more with other bloggers and started building my tribe.  I learned that sponsoring other blogs was a great way to promote my blog as well as a means to support other bloggers that I admired.  

I soon began to wonder about offering sponsorships on my own blog.  I wanted to be able to promote and encourage other bloggers as well.  And since this is a place of honesty, I wanted to be able to have a little extra money to turn around and invest in my blog.  When I started selling ads, I was able to sponsor more blogs myself, thus increasing the visibility of my blog and the blogs of those that sponsored me.  Win/win.

Offering sponsorships is not a decision to take lightly in my opinion.  The way I see it, once you buy an ad spot on my sidebar I now work for you.  It is my job to ensure you are happy and that you are receiving what you signed up for.

Before you create your Advertise page on your blog and create your account with Passionfruit or Adproval please consider the following things.

Time
This is major.  Each weekday I read all of my sponsors' blogs.  I share their posts on social media.  Not every blogger blogs every day, and that's ok.  Instead of sharing their posts, I may share their links to their social media sites instead.  Not only is promotion huge, but there is always correspondence as well. Welcome emails, sponsor highlight emails, and emails just for fun (cheers for sponsors that become friends along the way!) take time.  

Acknowledgement
I am a huge proponent of this.  If someone sponsors a blog I feel that they should be acknowledged right then, even if their sponsorship does not start for months.  A quick thank you email is sufficient in my eyes.  Once a sponsorship begins I send another email out within 24 hours.  I once sponsored a blog that took almost 2 weeks to acknowledge my presence on their sidebar.   Guess what?  That blog will be a one-and-done sponsorship.  That behavior shows me that there truly isn't an appreciation for her sponsors.

Honesty
Not every blog will be compatible with yours.  If your sponsorship options offer shout outs and/or guest posting read the blogger's blog before accepting the ad.  If you don't feel that their material is something that you can properly promote you owe it to them to nicely reject their ad.  Do not take their money and place them on your sidebar and promptly forget about them.  We as bloggers all want what we signed up for.  It's up to the sponsor to provide it.  If you feel you can't then let the blogger know. 

Organization
You can not offer sponsorship and not be organized.  One without the other is a disaster waiting to happen.  Invest in a good planner and be diligent with it.

Be Willing to Right a Wrong
Perfect example:  In August I was out of town for a week.  I was keeping up with my blog, my sponsors, and my emails.  Or so I thought.  I had prepared emails to go out to my sponsors.  I assumed I hit schedule when in actuality, I hadn't.  The email went into my drafts folder.   One of my sponsors asked about a her highlight post and I was confused til I searched my email only to find my error. What did I do?  Admitted the mistake on my part and I extended her sponsorship (as well as the others that the email was going to) for a week.   We are all human and make mistakes.  What set us apart is how we handle our mistakes.  

Follow Through
This is a no brainer.  If you offer a service, provide it; and provide it in a timely manner.  No questions asked.  

Appreciation
Buying an ad is a choice.  There are thousands of blogs out there.  Someone chose to sponsor you.  Be appreciative, be kind, be approachable, and don't forget to be you.  


Word of mouth is a great form of advertising for your sponsorships.  Go the extra mile and give people a reason to recommend you to others.  I can honestly say that offering sponsorships has been a wonderful experience for me.  Working with bloggers for a month at a time is a great way to develop friendships.  

What do you look for when you choose to sponsor a blog?  Do you have any tips on how to become a better sponsor?  I'd love to hear them....comment below!

Linking up with The Grits Blog and Treasure Tromp.  



The Adventures of Bug and boo
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9.17.2014

You're from New York?


It never fails.  Tell someone you're from New York and they automatically think of NYC.  I can't blame them one bit.  It seems that our state has always been defined by the Big Apple.  I'm not complaining.  I love New York City, I truly do.  I think it is a city that everyone should experience at least once in their life.  The food, the sights, the culture, the views, the shopping...all of it is surreal.

Me though?  I live about 4 hours away from the city.  I think it's the perfect location.  I seem to be smack dab in the middle of the state.  I can get to anywhere in the state within a few hours.  I am near multiple lakes and mountains are within an hour drive.  Major New York cities are within a couple of hours driving distance.  

What you may not know about New York is that we have so much more to offer than just the City.  We have something for everyone here.

I'm sure when you think of NY views skyscrapers come to mind.  I'm here to tell you, we have other breathtaking views too.
The Christmas tree farm I go to every year


The scenery where my daughter had her senior pictures taken.  You can see her and the photographer in the background.
The Orchard we go for U-Pick Apples every fall
Hiking at Root Glen at Hamilton College
Maybe the scenery isn't enough to draw you in.  We have sports teams throughout the state. Professional teams as well as semi-pro teams; all with huge fan bases.

Ever been to Niagara Falls?  That's a definite sight to see.  Beautiful and breathtaking.  While you're out in the western part of New York, be sure to stop by one of the many wineries.

Wine isn't your thing?  My hometown has a wonderful brewery.  We are quite proud of it.  Every year they host the after party to the Boilermaker 15k Road Race.  Every runner (of legal age) gets free beer at the end of the race.   I'm pretty sure half of our local runners run it just for the free beer.

Are you a shopper?  Destiny USA is a new mall destination center about an hour from my house. With stores galore, restaurants, amusement places and much more, you can't go wrong.

About 25 minutes from my house you will find the Turning Stone Resort Casino.  Don't worry if gambling isn't your thing.  You can go there for spa treatments, PGA level golf courses, nightclubs and wonderful restaurants.

My wish for today is that you get to experience New York at some point in your life.  Whether it's the city or any other part, it has so much to offer everyone.

My other wish for today?  That you take part in the amazing Blog Auction going on today.  Helene of Helene in Between is the mastermind behind this concept.  Be sure to check it out and bid on something. I bought ad space last time she did the auction and this time I thought I would participate on the other side.  Feel like hanging on my sidebar?  Head over and place a bid.  I'd love to work with you!  The auction goes live at 9:00 am Central time.


Helene in Between


Don't forget to link up and tell me your wishes for today!


Love the Here and Now






The Adventures of Bug and boo
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9.16.2014

Introducing The Rambling Llama!


I am excited to hand over my blog for the day to Melissa from the Rambling Llama.   Melissa is one of this people that you feel like you have known forever.  She is sweet and funny, down toEarth and caring. She can brighten my day with an email and make me smile with a text.  She is 100% genuine and I'm thrilled to count her as a friend.

Enough from me though...let's let Melissa take over.

For as long as I can remember, my Grandmother on my dad's side of the family has always made these napkin candles for all of our family functions. She taught me how to fold these when I was about 11 years old, and I've always remembered how to do it. (Good thing because now if I get to her house early for a family dinner she has me folding the napkins!) Today, I'm going to teach you! Who knows, it could be your fun new family tradition to pass along to your children and grand-children!

What you'll need
+ square, cloth napkin *
       *Grandma always uses cloth napkins and the real silver, so I have no clue if paper napkins work for this
+ these instructions.
[disclaimer: I don't own cloth napkins, but I do own bandannas so that's what we used for this!]

Start with your cloth napkin completely open, as flat as possible. 


Fold in half into a triangle. 
The bottom edge of the triangle then gets folded upwards about 1 inch.
**As you can see from my picture, the "about" is key; it doesn't have to be exact.**
Fold the outer-most part of the top corner down about 1 inch as well

Flip the whole thing over to where your folds are on the bottom

Begin rolling everything as seen below
Once you get to the end, leave a tiny corner
Stand everything up vertically
Tuck the tiny corner into the lip of the bottom of the "candle"

And there you have it, a napkin candle! You can make the "wick" look more like a candle depending on how far you fold the first top corner. Twist and play with the "wick" however you like.


I'd love to know if you try this! Let me know how your friends and / or family like it!
I love that Melissa chose to share something of sentimental value.  See?   I told you she was wonderful! You can follow Melissa on Twitter, Facebook, Bloglovin', Pinterest, and Instagram.  Be sure to stop by and say hello; you won't regret it!


The Adventures of Bug and boo
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9.15.2014

Making Exercise Fun and The Blonder Side of Life


Happy Monday!  I'm sure the smiles aren't as readily available as they were on Friday morning but it's a good morning nonetheless, right?  Mondays around here are known as Grateful Heart Monday, courtesy of Emily from Ember Grey.  No matter what the circumstances are in your life there is always something to be grateful for.

Today I am grateful for something that may seem a little strange.  There seems to be a new fitness trend that my daughters are jumping on.  It's what I call the fun runs.  Within the span of 2 months, my daughters have participated in runs that are not only great exercise but fun as well.  I love the fact that kids are getting introduced to events like these that show them that exercise and being active is not boring.

This summer my daughters participated in the Color Run.  This was a 5k that was also a fundraiser.  The runners go through the course and get sprayed with paint.  It ended in a dance party with hundreds and hundreds of runners.  It was a ball to watch and amazing to participate in (according to them!).






On Saturday my youngest daughter participated in The Mighty Run (the kids version).  This race had a series of obstacles that you had to run through.  Think mud, mud, and more mud.  Add to it Fall hitting central NY with a vengeance that day (45-50 degrees and rainy) and you have a recipe for fun in an 11 year old's eyes.



















Doing this race once just wasn't enough.  She had to go back and do it one more time.  I love that through these races kids are learning that physical activity can be both fun and good for you.  I think that's a lesson that I missed out on early on.  I'm grateful that my girls are learning this now and that they may have a healthier attitude towards exercise than I do.

I'd love to introduce you to a blogger that embraces the athletic lifestyle.  Kelsey of The Blonder Side of Life is one of those people that seems to have it all.  A zest for life, adventure, genuine-ness, and a sense of humor.  Following her blog is like a breath of fresh air.  She is honest and real and is fun to read.




In Kelsey's words.....

How did you come up with the name for your blog?
I wanted something original and I love corny jokes and puns so I knew I wanted to incorporate "blonde" in there somewhere.  My first  name was Southern Blonde out of Humidity when I moved to Boston, but then I kind of expanded my vision and thought the Blonder Side of Life was more appropriate for my outlook on life.  If you couldn't tell from the name, I'm a huge optimist and it's a rare occasion when i can't find the good in any person or situation.

What are 3 words you would use to describe your blog?
Fun, sarcasm, and food.  All things I love. :)

You can go anywhere in the world....where are you headed?
oh jeez, ALL the places!  I love to travel and have been fortunate to be able to visit almost all of the lower 48 states, but I've never been overseas anywhere.  I'm thinking Australia or New Zealand, though my dad just got a job in Finland so I'd like to visit that area as well (though maybe not when it's so cold.....).

Name 2 favorite things about yourself, one physical trait and one personality trait.
I love my giant blue eyes.  They're really the thing I get the most compliments on and I always tease that they're my one redeeming trait.  Though I have to admit that my eyesight is pretty poor so it's a double edged sword lol.  For personality I like to think that I'm pretty friendly.  Like I mentioned above I tend to see the good in people even when they've done something "bad".  My parents always called me a Peacemaker when I was little.

What's the best advice you can give to a new blogger?
Reach out and make friends!  That's why we blog right?  To make connections.  You might have other reasons as well, but if you're not connecting with your readers then you won't last long.  Also don't be afraid to reach out to the "bigger" bloggers.  I used to never comment on their blogs because they would get so many from other people I assumed there's no way they'd ever take time to talk to me.  Boy was I wrong, they were once small like me (or you) and are into connect no matter their stats.

You can follow Kels on Bloglovin', Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

What are you grateful for today?
Grateful Heart Monday w/ Ember Grey

Please take a moment to enter this giveaway.  Target, Etsy, and Starbucks gift cards?  You deserve to be spoiled!

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