Working Remotely at McDonald’s

FTC disclosure: This post is sponsored by McDonald’s of Central Arkansas. I am one of their brand ambassadors, but all opinions here are my own.

My husband and I both work remotely at least one day a week, and we both love it. It’s nice to have lunch together and catch up sans kids between phone calls, reports and emails.

According to Gallup, the average worker telecommutes (works remotely) two days per month. And although telecommuting is on the rise, it “remains much more the exception than the rule.”

That will probably change in the near future as millennials value FLEXIBILITY as the number one reason they’re attracted to a workplace.

With younger workers being fully aware that you can email or call someone from anywhere, the idea of working differently becomes “a criterion that people are expressly looking for before they’ll sign on the dotted line,” says Adam Kingl, director or learning solutions at the London Business School.

“I believe that 50% of the workforce will be working remotely half the time,” says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs.

remote work at McDonald's

My work-from-home day is my favorite day of the workweek. But sometimes I just want to get out of the house and work from another location. The newly-opened McDonald’s on McCain Boulevard in North Little Rock is my new go-to spot. Not only is it new, modern and clean, they have free wifi and excellent coffee! I can take my laptop or iPad and get right to work.

McDonald's

This new McDonald’s is really nice. I love the design and lighting. I had the opportunity to tour the whole place the day before it opened. It was really neat to see the equipment behind the scenes. Plus I got to make my own McFlurry with Oreo Cookies and McCafe Mango Pineapple Smoothie.  It was so much fun!

My seven year old, Maya, was with me, and she has already decided that she wants to work here when she is turns 16. (She probably thinks that McDonald’s employees get free ice cream all day long.)

ice cream at McDonald's
My toddler enjoying a McFlurry

The McCain McDonald’s also has two drive-thru lanes that speed up service tremendously. But you really do need to see the inside of this location for yourself. And if you see me sitting in the corner with my face stuck in a stack of papers or on the computer, please stop by and say hello.

McDonald's

Take A Hike Trail Mix

Meggan Spicer has a new ebook out: $5 Family Fun that includes 50 frugal, fabulous ways for a family of four to have fun together on five dollars or less. Projects are broken into two categories: holiday/seasonal and general fun. Each idea can be modified for families of three, five, or however big your clan is. The key is to utilize dollar store finds, free local services, generic brands, common household items, and starter kit items (common items that will be used in multiple projects).

Meggan asked me to share my favorite activity from the ebook with you, and I picked the Take A Hike Trail Mix. Trail MixTrail Mix – $5
No cooking required—just throw your favorite combination of trail mix ingredients ($1 each) from the dollar store together to make a personalized tasty trail mix. Scour the aisles to find what suits your tastes, but here are some options that I found:
* Pretzels
* M&Ms®
* Raisins
* Peanuts or mixed nuts
* Dried cranberries
* Chocolate chips
* Dried banana chips
* Popcorn
* Mini marshmallows
* Shredded coconut
* Goldfish®

Grab some water from home before you go. If you don’t like the taste of your city’s tap water, reduce your trail mix ingredients to four and use the extra dollar to buy bottled water from the dollar store.

I bet your little hikers will exclaim your praises when you whip out this trail mix from your backpack!
Kids enjoying the hike
Kids enjoying the hike

 

You can find Meggan online…
Blog: http://www.megganspicer.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/megganspicer
Instagram: @megganspicer
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/megganspicer

Gymboree Sale On Now!

Fruity Meyer Lemon Smoothie Recipe

*Blog post provided by Art of Tea. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through one of my links, I will earn a small commission, but your cost remains the same. Thank you!

This is most certainly a “wake me up” kind of smoothie featuring Meyer Lemon Tea from Art of Tea! You can play around with this basic recipe, but we’ve chosen to start with an antioxidant heavy morning blend.

Antioxidants actively help the body fight free radicals, which are chemical compounds that damage cells, DNA, and can even lead to premature cell death. Green tea is reported to have the highest concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols.

Meyer Lemon TeaWe chose to use our Meyer Lemon tea, but any green tea will do for this recipe. Jasmine Blueberry would also be a great blend to infuse. It is easiest to make your iced tea ahead of time, check out our Iced Tea Brewing Guide.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 ripe banana, frozen
  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 cup iced Meyer Lemon or other Green Tea
  • ½ cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • ½ cup ice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Directions

Place all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Tea Gifts

How to Avoid GMOs When You Shop

*Blog post provided by Paul Krupin, Publicist for Melissa Diane Smith.

On Friday, July 29th, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that allows food companies and producers to use QR codes, 1-800 numbers, or on-package text or symbols to label food products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Nearly 300 consumer, health, farmer, and environmental organizations and food companies representing hundreds of thousands of Americans urged President Obama to veto the bill because it does not provide the mandatory, on-package text labeling that nine out of ten Americans want and that citizens from 64 other countries already have.

Melissa Diane Smith, health journalist, holistic nutrition expert, and the author of Going Against GMOs: The Fast-Growing Movement to Avoid Unnatural Genetically Modified “Foods” to Take Back Our Food and Health, offers insights on the controversial issues surrounding GMOs, the new law, and how people can learn to avoid GMOs when they shop.

What are GMOs and why are they important?

GMOs are genetically modified organisms, also known as genetically modified foods. GMOs look the same as foods grown naturally, but they are created in a laboratory and very different on the inside: They’re most often genetically engineered to be herbicide tolerant or to produce their own internal insecticide. GMOs were introduced in 1996 and are widely used in our food supply now, but most people don’t know they’ve been eating them because GMOs haven’t been labeled.

The FDA has not conducted safety studies on GM foods. Instead, it leaves determining their safety up to the companies that make them. Animal research points to the potential for significant health risks from eating GM foods, and there are environmental, farmer’s rights, and food security concerns associated with them as well. More than three dozen countries in the world have banned the cultivation of GM crops. Concerns about the risks posed by GMOs have created a growing movement of people in this country who want to avoid eating them.

Will the new law make it easier for consumers who want to avoid GMOs when they shop?

You would think so, but for the most part, no, it won’t. The goal of the act was to establish a uniform national standard for disclosure of GM food ingredients, but the law doesn’t accomplish that goal. There are so many problems and loopholes with the law that it has often been called the Denying Americans the Right to Know (or DARK) Act. The law replaces clearly worded state laws with what the Center for Food Safety calls “a vague multi-year bureaucratic process specifically designed to provide less transparency to consumers.”

The law overturns Vermont’s recently enacted GMO labeling law that required on-package labeling with the words “partially produced with genetic engineering.” Many national companies, such as Campbell Soup, Mars, PepsiCo, Nestle, and General Mills, were already starting to label their products nationwide to comply with the Vermont law. But the new law overrides Vermont’s law and other state laws, and gives companies other disclosure options they can use that aren’t instantly understood by consumers.

If a company decides to label a product with a QR (Quick Response) code that is only readable with a smart phone, people who don’t have a smart phone won’t be able to scan products to get the information about GMOs they want. According to Pew Research Center, only 50% of people with low incomes in the U.S. own a smartphone; only 52% of rural Americans own a smartphone; and only 27% of seniors own a smartphone. Even those who do own smartphones are not guaranteed consistent access to the Internet. Consumer groups and activists such as Rev. Jesse Jackson have spoken out about how the law discriminates against low-income, rural, minority, and elderly populations.

Is there any way that GMOs can be avoided easily? What are the most common foods that contain GMOs?

It’s not easy to do at first, but, yes, GMOs can be identified and avoided even without mandatory labeling. In fact, a growing movement of people have been doing that the past several years, and many companies now realize that selling and voluntarily labeling products that don’t contain GMOs boosts sales of those products and gives those companies a competitive edge. So, labeling has gradually been occurring on a voluntary basis because of increased consumer demand.

To avoid GMOs, shoppers need to learn that there are 11 primary at-risk GM foods commonly found in grocery stores, and they can remember those foods as 3 Cs, 2 Ss, 2 As, 2 Ps, a Y and a Z. Those foods are:

  • Corn (as in corn oil, cornmeal, cornstarch, corn syrup, hominy, polenta, and other corn-based ingredients)
  • Canola (as in canola oil)
  • Cottonseed (as in cottonseed oil)
  • Sugar Beets (as in “sugar” in an ingredient, which is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets)
  • Soybeans (as in soybean oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy milk, tofu, and other soy-based ingredients)
  • Alfalfa, which is fed to livestock
  • Apple, which will be arriving in some stores this year
  • Papaya (from Hawaii and China)
  • Potatoes, which were sold in 10 states last year and will be sold in a larger number this year
  • Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Consumers can avoid the genetically modified foods entirely or choose those foods only when they are labeled USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified. Avoiding processed convenience foods goes a long way in helping you avoid the most common GMOs.

What’s the difference between USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified foods?

Products that carry the Non-GMO Project Verified label are independently verified to be in compliance with North America’s only third party standard for GMO avoidance, including testing of at-risk ingredients.

Products that have the USDA Organic seal cannot contain any GMO ingredients. They also must be produced without irradiation, sewage sludge, antibiotics, growth hormones, and synthetic chemical fertilizers.  However, some GM crops such as corn can spread through wind drift and contaminate organic crops, and organic certification does not require testing for GMOs. So, for the most protection against GMOs, choose products with both the Non-GMO Project Verified label and the USDA Organic label—or just avoid foods made with the 11 direct sources of GMOs.

What else is important to know about how to avoid GMOs?

In addition to the direct sources of GMOs, there are also indirect sources of GMOs that can be avoided.  Conventional meat, eggs, and dairy products are often raised on feed that contains GMOs.  The best way to avoid these is to switch to eating organically raised beef and chicken, wild-caught fish, and organic eggs.  Look for meat clearly labeled as organic, and preferably organic and 100% grass-fed. Or look for fish, poultry, eggs, and meat labeled as Non-GMO Project Verified.

“Shopping non-GMO requires some effort and learning,” Ms. Smith says. “GMOs are everywhere—people will be surprised and amazed to find out that they are in virtually all stores and all restaurants, and have made it into most of the foods that most of us eat.  It does take time to change longstanding habits, but the more we avoid GMOs, the better we get at it, and the more second nature it becomes. If you want to avoid GMOs, don’t hesitate to start somewhere—even if it’s just eating one non-GMO or organic meal a day.”

Going Against GMOs

Going Against GMOs: The Fast-Growing Movement to Avoid Unnatural Genetically Modified “Foods” to Take Back Our Food and Health

Melissa Diane Smith

List $18.95
Paperback 358 pages
ISBN# 978-0-9908152-0-4
Originally published September 2014

Available in bookstores nationwide and online.

For more information, visit www.GoingAgainstGMOs.com

 

Local theatre production benefiting foster kids

Cover Photo by Katie Childs
(LtoR)  Jenny Moses, John Michael Murphy, Kayla Walker

 

THE STUDIO THEATRE’S PRODUCTION OF
JAMES and the GIANT PEACH
AUGUST 11-21, 2016

James and the Giant Peach

DATES AND TIMES
Performances are August 11, 12 (Special Performance), 13, 14, 18,19, 20, 21, 2016
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances (August 11, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21) will begin at 7:30pm.
Sunday matinees (August 14 and 21) will begin at 2:30pm.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets are $25.00 for general admission.
Tickets are $20.00 for Seniors (65+), Military, and Students.
There are no assigned seats at The Studio Theatre.
The box office will open at 6:30pm on performance dates and the house will open approximately 20 minutes prior to curtain.

Tickets may be purchased at Eventbrite. We highly recommend that tickets be purchased in advance, as we cannot guarantee availability at the door. The Lobby Bar is open before and after the show and during intermission. The show is rated PG.

SPECIAL PERFORMANCE AUGUST 12
On Friday, August 12, “James and the Giant Peach” will host a special performance, in which a portion of ticket sales will be donated to Project Zero. Tickets for this one night only even are $35 for adults, $25 for students/seniors. Additional donations will also be accepted.

Project Zero Mission statement:
The goal of Project Zero is to raise awareness about adoption through the state foster care system with the ultimate goal of finding a forever family for every child that is waiting.

Also, throughout the run of the show, a bin will be available for patrons to donate school supplies to The Call in Pulaski County.
Needed Items:
• New mesh backpacks
• Mead Composition Notebooks
• mechanical pencils
• Other school supplies are also accepted.
The CALL is a locally-founded, statewide nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supports the needed Christian foster and adoptive families for children in foster care in Arkansas. The CALL’s vision is to achieve no waiting children in foster care in Arkansas.

Tickets available at: Eventbrite

ABOUT THE SOURCE MATERIAL
James and the Giant Peach was Roald Dahl’s first classic novel for
children. Although The Gremlins is sometimes referred to as an earlier example of his writing for children, James was Dahl’s first conscious attempt to write for a younger audience after several years of writing primarily adult short stories. Dahl started writing James and the Giant Peach in 1959 after encouragement from his agent, Sheila St Lawrence. In the orchard at Dahl’s home there was a cherry tree. Seeing this tree made him wonder: what if, one day, one of those cherries just kept on and on growing bigger and bigger? From giant cherries Dahl also considered ever-increasing pears and even apples, but eventually settled on a giant peach as the method for James’ magical journey.

The book was first published in 1961 to glowing reviews and marked the beginning of Dahl’s prolific career as a children’s author.

James and the Giant PeachSYNOPSIS
When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion that results in a tremendous peach… and launches a journey of enormous proportions. Suddenly, James finds himself in the center of the gigantic peach, among human-sized insects with equally oversized personalities, but after it falls from the tree and rolls into the ocean, the group faces hunger, sharks and plenty of disagreements. Thanks to James’ quick wit and creative thinking, the residents learn to live and work together as a family. The dangerous voyage is a success, but the adventure takes a whole new twist once they land on the Empire State Building.

THE STUDIO THEATRE
320 W. 7TH Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
501.374.2615
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA @StudioTheatreLR

New Website Offers Sensible Tips for Healthier Living

Visit SmartLifebites.com and Discover
Healthy Eating, Fitness, Family, Travel and Educational Information

Fairfield, NJ – August 2, 2016 – Crispy Green®, makers of freeze-dried Crispy Fruit snacks, is proud to introduce a new website SmartLifebites.com – a site that is powered by Crispy Green and focused on providing useful information and practical tips for living a healthier life. The mission of the site is to share sensible, healthy lifestyle information and ideas to help visitors maximize each day – one smart lifebite at a time.

SmartLifebites.com is the brainchild of Crispy Green’s CEO and founder Angela Liu, who has a passion for living life to the fullest and helping others to do the same. As a scientist-turned-entrepreneur, Angela has been a lifetime learner and explorer. She believes that knowledge and education help people make better decisions that can lead to a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life. Her passion has inspired the Smart Lifebites concept, which evolved into SmartLifebites.com.

The information on SmartLifebites.com is provided by professional writers and editors in the healthy lifestyle space, with content coming from a variety of sources including nutrition, fitness, family, food, travel and educational bloggers. The goal is for this site to become a destination of smart, fun and digestible “bites” of information about healthy living, so that visitors can “snack” on Smart Lifebites any time of the day, with a variety of “flavors” to suit their needs.

Providing an element of entertainment, SmartLifebites.com is introducing its official tour guide Chris B. Green and his sidekick Chirp, who will help navigate your online experience. This adorable character duo keeps the site fun for all who visit – they’re even working on some special surprises for kids (but you’ll have to visit the website to find out).

To celebrate the launch of this new website, visitors will have a chance to win a premium Chris B. Green and Chirp lunch bag simply by signing up for the e-newsletter. One lunch bag will be given away every day from today through August 31. Crispy Green is also throwing in a six-pack of Crispy Fruit snacks with each lunch bag given away. This is an excellent back-to-school promotion for kids or anyone who can use a quality lunch bag.
 

  • Made Of 80 Gram Non-Woven, Coated Water-Resistant Polypropylene
  • Size 7″ W x 10″ H x 4″ D (Folded: 7″ W x 5″ H)
  • Front Top Pocket
  • Web Carrying Handle
  • ID Holder
  • Foil Laminated PE Foam Insulation
 Lunch bag final          Mango 6-pack
About SmartLifebites.com
SmartLifebites.com™ is an interactive online gathering of ideas and information, providing knowledge to living a healthier lifestyle. Content will focus on nutrition, fitness, family, travel, education and wellness, presented in a fun, social format for easy sharing. SmartLifebites.com is powered by Crispy Green®, makers of freeze-dried Crispy Fruit Snacks.About Crispy Green
Crispy Green Inc. (crispygreen.com) is the maker of Crispy Green® Crispy Fruit (freeze-dried fruit) snacks. Crispy Fruit is a delicious, convenient way to add more fruit to your daily diet. The company was founded in August 2004 with a vision to be the leading provider of high quality, natural food products desired by everyone who wants to live a healthy and better life. Crispy Green was introduced in the United States in 2005. Since then, the company has been consistently providing high quality freeze-dried fruit snacks and adding new flavors to its Crispy Fruit line to meet market demands.

Quotes on Race and Privilege

White privilege is a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to all others. White privilege can exist without white people’s conscious knowledge of its presence and it helps to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country. (source)race race

 

Here are a few quotes that help explain privilege and race:

“To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitious and invisible. You’re everywhere you look, you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured. You’re like water, like air. People will tell you they went to see a “woman doctor” or they will say they went to see “the doctor.” People will tell you they have a “gay colleague” or they’ll tell you about a colleague. A white person will be happy to tell you about a “Black friend,” but when that same person simply mentions a “friend,” everyone will assume the person is white. Any college course that doesn’t have the word “woman” or “gay” or “minority” in its title is a course about men, heterosexuals, and white people. But we call those courses “literature,” “history” or “political science.”
This invisibility is political.”
Michael S. Kimmel, Privilege: A Reader

“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

“The irony of American history is the tendency of good white Americanas to presume racial innocence. Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege. In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.”
Tim Wise

“Since the notion that we should all forsake attachment to race and/or cultural identity and be “just humans” within the framework of white supremacy has usually meant that subordinate groups must surrender their identities, beliefs, values, and assimilate by adopting the values and beliefs of privileged-class whites, rather than promoting racial harmony this thinking has created a fierce cultural protectionism.”
bell hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism

 

 

Community Coffee

I received free samples of Community Coffee for review purposes, but all opinions here are my own.

Iced coffee is a summer must!

Community Coffee Company recently launched its first-ever “Iced K-Cup” in Mocha Vanilla. You’re going to want to try it…especially when you see this video recipe for Brown Sugar Cinnamon Iced Coffee.

I just tried the Iced K-Cup for the first time recently. It was so delicious and really easy to make. First you brew a Community Coffee Iced K-Cup in your Keurig. Community Coffee

Then add milk or cream and whatever sweetener you like. Community Coffee

Finally, just pour that over a large cup of ice. Community Coffee

“Whether you’re an iced coffee lover, K-Cup® enthusiast or simply someone who enjoys trying new blends, we think our Mocha Vanilla Iced Coffee will become your go-to beverage when the weather gets hot,” said Scott Eckert, Vice President of Marketing, Community Coffee Company.

Available in 12-count, single-serve K-Cup® pods, Community® Mocha Vanilla Iced coffee just hit shelves this past May, giving consumers an easy and convenient way to make iced coffee throughout the summer months. The new flavor does not contain cream or sugar so coffee lovers can customize their drink based on personal preference.

To learn more and to purchase online, visit CommunityCoffee.com.

They make tea too!

For non-coffee drinkers, Community® tea is a crisp and captivating blend of orange pekoe and pekoe cut black teas from around the world – it’s always clear, bright, and never bitter.

 

About Community Coffee Company
Now in its 97th year, Community Coffee Company houses the largest family-owned and operated retail coffee brand in America, and four generations of the Saurage family have operated the company since its inception. Founded in 1919, Community Coffee Company is an importer, roaster and distributor of the highest-quality premium coffees and teas, using only 100% Arabica coffee beans. For additional information, visit CommunityCoffee.com or find the brand on Facebook and Twitter.

Am I Polarizing?

Yesterday, a sweet friend messaged me privately to tell me that my posts (political posts on Facebook specifically) were polarizing and that it is “making it hard to listen to anything else you are saying.”

I responded that I would take the comments under consideration because I definitely don’t want to water down my message of anti-racism. (Side note: I’m not using the term “racial unity” anymore. Unity, unfortunately, still can hide underlying racism.)

But after sleeping on these comments overnight, I am calling BULLSHIT. (Sorry for the strong language, but I can’t think of a better term at the time.) I will not be silent. When I see injustice and racism, I will speak up. When I see people justifying a candidate who proves over and over again that he is a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist narcissist, I am going to call you out.

This is what the Republican Party has come to:

US Rep. Steve King preaches literal white supremacy on national television

Scott Baio ducks question about tweet calling Clinton a ‘c*nt’: ‘It’s just a picture’

RNC forced to close online convention chat after anti-Semites turn it into a Jew-bashing hatefest

Here Are 10 Examples Of Donald Trump Being Racist

Politifact has fact-checked Trump 180+ times. 75% of those statements turned out to be Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. So tell me again who is a liar? (Hillary Clinton gets 51% True or Mostly True on Politifact. FYI.)

I admit that Hilary Clinton has a likeability issue. I really think it’s because she’s a smart, determined woman — and people hate that. But she’s experienced, level-headed, and is for the betterment of the United States. Trump is only for the betterment of Trump.

So if you don’t like what I post, hide me, unfriend me, whatever. I don’t care. Honestly. This isn’t 8th grade. This is LIFE and DEATH. My husband and children are black. They have been threatened. They get followed at the store. They don’t get invited to parties that white kids get invited to. Things are assumed about them just because of the color of their skin. They wonder if they will make it home alive each day. Let that sink in a minute.

I’m done worrying if I offend YOUR WHITE PRIVILEGE. Too bad. Until you walk a day in my shoes, the shoes of my husband or children, just hush with the whining.

And THINK. Really think for yourself. Not what you heard on Fox News or conservative radio. Not what your Southern Baptist preacher says either. (I know — I went there.) PRAY that your eyes will be opened to the truth.

“But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11)

Dear Mayor Smith:

July 7, 2016

Dear Mayor Smith,

My name is Stacey Valley, and I am a long-time resident of North Little Rock. I’m sure you are aware that in the past two days two black men have been killed by police officers in other parts of the country. While we don’t know all of the details, the outcomes of both events could have been avoided.

black father
my husband and youngest daughter on Father’s Day

As a wife of a black man and the mother of four black daughters, I am obviously concerned about their safety when they leave home. I am not suggesting that we have a problem in North Little Rock. In fact, we have several wonderful cops in our city that want to make a difference in the lives of people of color. However there is an inherent danger in being black in this nation, and honestly, I’m scared for my family.

black children
my children enjoying a cool treat at Pineapple Whip

I would like to discuss with you what we can do to ensure that black men, women and children are not viewed as an automatic threat when North Little Rock police interact with them. Perhaps we can create a forum where officers meet the black citizens in this city before pulling them over or stopping them on the playground. Maybe doing so will decrease North Little Rock’s risk of ever having an Alton Sterling incident. Please let me know your thoughts on this matter.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Stacey Valley

 

This letter was inspired (and mostly plagiarized) from a similar letter than Shun Strickland wrote the mayor of Springdale, AR. 

A blog by Stacey Valley.