State of the Art McDonald’s Coming to North Little Rock

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.

If you are around the McCain Mall area of North Little Rock, you might have noticed that the McDonald’s at 4008 McCain Boulevard is closed for construction. Last week, I had a chance to visit with Nicole DiMichele, owner/operator of this location, about plans for the new store. Nicole and her dad own the McCain location and five other McDonald’s in the area, and she is super excited about what’s coming in July.

McDonald's on McCain

“It’s going to be beautiful with an upscale interior décor; a comfortable ambiance. There will be TVs in the lobby and digital menu boards. I can’t wait for the customers to see it,” exclaims Nicole.

McDonald's on McCain

The new store will open in mid-July, and it’ll be the biggest McDonald’s restaurant in the Little Rock area. It will have a dual lane drive thru and three drive thru windows. That will increase the per hour drive thru capacity by about 30 percent. Two new signs will be installed with LED lights. The parking lot will also be bigger since they took over some grass space from the bank next door.

Inside the restaurant, the front counter will have two interactive computers. The inside color scheme will be pretty earth tones of greens and browns with a few splashes of red.

McDonald's on McCain

“The customers that have been coming to the store for years are going to be so happy. They are used to visiting this restaurant which is 41 years old – and now to this brand new, state of the art, latest and greatest! I can’t wait to hear what the customers have to say.”

Nicole told me that corporate McDonald’s gives her a few different choices, themes and styles to choose from, and she can customize it from there following corporate guidelines.

“This one is going to be special,” beams Nicole.

During the construction, the McCain store employees were transferred to other locations. When this store reopens, those employees can stay where they are or come back to the McCain location.

mcdonalds_on_mccain_2

McDonald’s on McCain Blvd is HIRING!

DiMichele said that they will have a huge hiring day on June 9 at the JFK McDonald’s (7101 JFK Blvd, NLR). All smiling faces can apply! The hiring event will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with open interviews: come in and fill out an application, with on the spot hiring. They will hire for all positions.

Nicole says that they have big things planned for the grand opening party – stay tuned!

Hummus-Crusted Chicken: #HummusMadeEasy

This post is sponsored by Arkansas Women Bloggers to promote Bush’s Hummus Made Easy. I received free product to sample for this review and am being compensated for my time. However, all photos and ideas on this blog are my own.Hummus Made Easy

I am on a hummus kick this month, and it’s all thanks to Bush’s Hummus Made Easy. I love this stuff! And it’s a breeze to whip up in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender.

Last night I made Hummus-Crusted Chicken using the Black Beans Hummus flavor and the Classic Hummus flavor Hummus Made Easy. I also included some veggies I had on hand: carrots and a zucchini.

First I prepared the hummus according to the package instructions. Next I pounded out four chicken breasts to an even thickness and sliced up my veggies into spears.hummus  & veggies

I placed the carrot and zucchini spears in a 9×13 baking dish and drizzled olive oil over it, then salt & pepper, then tossed to combine. Next I spread hummus on both sides of the chicken breasts — two with the Black Bean Hummus and two with the Classic Hummus — and placed the chicken over the vegetables. hummus-crusted chickenFinally I sprinkled seasoned Panko bread crumbs over the top and added a little extra spice (because we like spicy at the Valley house).

I baked the dish at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes until chicken was done throughout. Hummus-crusted chickenIt was so delicious. The hummus from the bottom of the chicken breasts made a rich sauce for the vegetables, and the hummus and Panko on the top made a crunchy-gooey topping for the tender chicken. It was a hit with all the Valleys.

You can find Bush’s Hummus Made Easy at Walmart on the canned beans aisle. Hummus Made Easy

You should also check out my Zucchini Hummus Wraps that I made last week using Hummus Made Easy. This recipe is so good that I made it THREE TIMES last week.

Zucchini Hummus Wraps: #HummusMadeEasy

This post is sponsored by Arkansas Women Bloggers to promote Bush’s Hummus Made Easy. I received free product to sample for this review and am being compensated for my time. However, all photos and ideas on this blog are my own.Hummus Made Easy

Hello May! It’s a busy month ahead with Kennedy’s high school graduation, summer plans to make for the kiddos, and several birthdays (including my own!). And with the warmer weather, I am in need of some fresh menu ideas for my family. My go-to soups and slower cooker dishes are too heavy for the hot Arkansas summer, so this month I’m going to try out some all-new-to-me recipes. Hopefully you will like them too.

Hummus Made EasyMy first recipe to share is Zucchini Hummus Wraps. I made the wraps for the first time today, and it was so fresh and delicious. The basis of this recipe is Bush’s Classic Hummus Made Easy and a can of Bush’s Garbanzo Beans. To make the hummus, you just rinse and drain the garbanzo beans and combine with the packet of Hummus Made Easy. You can do this in a blender, a food processor, or using an immersion blender like I did today.Hummus Made Easy

Zucchini Hummus Wraps (makes 2)

Ingredients
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 slices cheese (your choice)
  • 2 large tortillas (flour or gluten-free, your choice)
  • 4 tablespoons Bush’s Hummus Made Easy
Instructions
  1. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat.
  2. Remove the ends from the zucchini and Hummus Made Easyslice length wise into strips. Toss sliced zucchini in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place sliced zucchini in hot skillet and let cook for 3 minutes, turn and cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Set zucchini aside.Hummus Made Easy
  5. Place the tortillas one at a time in the hot skillet for approximately one minute, or just until a little crispy.
  6. Remove tortillas from skillet and assemble wraps: 2 tablespoons of hummus, one slice of cheese, zucchini slices, ½ cup baby spinach.
  7. Wrap tightly and enjoy immediately.

Recipe adapted from Maebells blog.

Hummus Made Easy

I even impressed myself with this recipe! I can’t wait to see what other recipes I can make using this yummy hummus.

You can find this Bush’s Hummus Made Easy at Walmart on the canned beans aisle. Hummus Made EasyBush’s Classic Hummus Made Easy (the one I used for this recipe) is a perfect blend of olive oil, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. There are two other flavors available: Bush’s Southwest Black Bean Hummus Made Easy and Bush’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Made Easy. I can’t wait to try them all!

Check out www.hummusmadeeasy.com for more information and up-to-date recipe inspirations. And stay tuned to my blog and social media this month for more recipes from me.

Come on, May! I’m ready for you.

Walk for the Waiting is tomorrow morning (rain or shine)

Walk for the Waiting is tomorrow morning (rain or shine).

There are now 4,800+ kids in Arkansas’s foster system, 600+ of which need an adoptive family today. Over 200 foster youth will age out this year because they were not adopted or did not find a permanent family.

The funds from Walk for the Waiting will go to The CALL, Project Zero and Immerse Arkansas who are working hard to make sure each of these children get the family and care they deserve.

If you’ve already signed up to walk or give – THANK YOU!

If you haven’t participated yet, can you help to make sure every kid in Arkansas has a family? You can give at https://www.walkforthewaiting.org/staceyvalley

Here are my two precious girls that were in the Arkansas foster system, but are now part of a forever family — my family. They are my treasures, and I thank God that I get to be their mommy. meandmygirls

May Events at Clinton Presidential Center

FTC disclosure: I am a social ambassador for the Clinton Presidential Center, and do receive a small compensation for promoting the Center.

American Champions: The Quest for Olympic Glory continues through September 11

Bridge to the Future – May 21 (see info below)

Conversation with author Garrard Conley – May 24 (see info below)

—————

Bridge to the Future Festival

bridge to the futureOn May 21, 2016, the Clinton Center, along with partners Hippy Arkansas and Special Olympics Arkansas, will host the Bridge to the Future Festival, a free community festival that encourages students to read throughout their summer break and will include fun activities for kids, and literacy, health, and safety resources for parents. The free festival is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday, May 21, 2016
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Clinton Presidential Park

According to extensive research, all students experience some level of “summer learning loss” or “summer setback” while on summer breaks.  Some students are more effected by the summer break than their peers.  Some quick facts:

  • Students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do at the beginning of summer vacation.
  • Students who see the biggest drops in test scores are already in higher-risk low-income groups.
  • “Summer setback” has a cumulative effect and can follow students through high school.
  • Educators, on average, spend four-to-six weeks re-teaching material that was lost during the “summer setback.”

Activities for families:
–Free books from the Reading Is Fundamental “AR Kids Read” program
–Crafts and coloring activities, including making a book
–Appearances by Cookie Mouse and Curious George
–Story time
–Central Arkansas Library System library card applications
–Writing activities with Foreign Tongues Poetry Troupe
–“Commitment wall” encouraging students to commit to reading throughout the summer
–Puppet shows
–Fire safety demonstrations
–Flag Football and the Young Athletes Program
–Face painting and bounce houses
–Free vision screenings for children provided by North Little Rock and Little Rock Founder’s Lions Clubs

—————

Arkansas Author Returns Home for Book Tour

Garrard ConleyThe Clinton Center is proud to host a conversation with Garrard Conley, author of the soon-to-be-released memoir, Boy Erased, on May 24 at 6 p.m. The son of a pastor in Arkansas, Conley writes about his experience at a church-supported conversion therapy program to be “cured” of his homosexuality after he was outed to his parents at the age of nineteen.

Go to the Center for more information and reservations.

Clinton Center

Anniversary Weekend in NW Arkansas

My husband Anthony and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary tomorrow. To celebrate, we spent the weekend in Eureka Springs and Bentonville.

The drive up on Friday was perfect. IMG_5110We stopped in Conway for lunch at Tacos 4 Life — our first time at this delicious taco place that gives back to hungry kids. I had the shrimp taco, and seriously: it was so good. The chips and cheese dip were yummy too.

IMG_5113Since Prince just died the day before, Anthony and I listened to the 80s station on XM Radio, then once we found out that they had a new ALL PRINCE station, we switched over to that. We sang and talked all the way up Pig Trail to Eureka Springs. Arkansas is really just breathtaking sometimes.

We stayed in a little cottage run by Eureka Zen. It IMG_5124was our second time staying at an Eureka Zen cottage, and once again, it didn’t disappoint. It even had a private courtyard out back with a hot tub! The inside was tastefully decorated (not too frilly as some B&Bs can be in that area), and it was walking distance to downtown’s shops and restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, Anthony and I ate well over the weekend. Here is a run-down of where we went:
Dinner Friday: Chelsea’s for pizza on the outside deck

Anthony on the top deck at Chelsea's Pizzeria
Anthony on the top deck at Chelsea’s Pizzeria

Dessert Friday: Farm to Table – FRESH
Breakfast Saturday: Mud Street Cafe — best. pancakes. ever.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie at Mud Street Cafe
Peanut Butter Cream Pie at Mud Street Cafe

Lunch Saturday: Pepe Tacos at Casa Colina (love their outside dining area)

Patio area at Pepe Tacos
Patio area at Pepe Tacos

Snack Saturday: The Magic Pan Creperie
Dinner late Saturday: Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking

For something different on Saturday, we visited a big cat rescue just outside Eureka Springs called Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Going at 1 p.m. wasn’t the best choice as most of the animals were napping in the shade hidden from the humans. But we did see several and learned their stories of being rescued. Bottom line: Don’t get a wild animal for a pet. It is cute and cuddly now, but will grow up and want to eat you. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Eureka Springs is a colorful little mountain town. You never know what surprise you’ll find around the next bend or down a stairway ally.Eureka Springs stair art

Sunday morning we went to Thorncrown Chapel for their 9:00 a.m. service. This church is an architectural beauty surrounded by nature. We sang out of hymnals. The sun beamed through the windows. It was truly a spiritual experience. Thorncrown Chapel

After church, we drove to Bentonville — straight to Crepes Paulette. We arrived at 10 minutes til 11:00 which is opening time. Good thing because there was already a pretty decent line. I gushed a bit over the owner and his sexy French accent. Luckily, this doesn’t phase Anthony. He refused my request to start talking with a French accent. Anyway, the wait was totally worth it. We each got a savory crepe AND a sweet crepe. OMG — best food I’ve eaten in a long while.

Crepes Paulette
Line at Crepes Paulette
Ham, cheese, spinach & egg crepe
Ham, cheese, spinach & egg crepe

Next we visited the 21c Museum Hotel (lots of funky modern art) and Crystal Bridges. There wasn’t time to see everything, so we just took in the new photography exhibit, The Open Road. Really good stuff.

It was a glorious weekend just being with my honey. I really am blessed to be married to such a sweetheart as Anthony K. Valley.

What I have in common with Beyonce?

I was given free samples of this product for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.

What do Beyoncé, Miranda Kerr, Elton John, The Pope, President Obama, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Kelly Ripa, Janet Jackson and Ray Kurzweil all have in common? They’ve all gone on the record to say that they drink alkaline water! Many athletes and celebrities are attracted to the benefits of an alkaline diet as balanced body pH supposedly results in greater energy, more restful sleep, improved digestion and fewer colds according to some medical authorities.

alkaline_water-charter-kangen-water4

Alkaline88, www.alkaline88.com, favored by Brande Roderick and Tim Tebow, achieves its 8.8 pH level through a state-of-the-art, completely chemical-free scientific process. They sent me several bottles of their water to try out for myself. Alkaline88 is really clean tasting, even though it contains Himalayan pinksalt which has 88 minerals and trace elements including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron.

IMG_5086

But is alkaline water better for us? The jury on that one is still out. However, if it’s something you want to try out, you can buy Alkaline88 on Amazon. It gets great reviews on there (4 out of 5 stars). Athletes really seem to like it. It’s too early to tell whether I see any improvements or not, but it does taste really good.

Alkaline88 comes in several sizes: 3 liter, 1 gallon, 700ml and 1 liter bottles. It can be found nationally at stores like Albertson’s, Safeway, 7-Eleven, Fry’s and Whole Foods Markets.

Woolly Hollow State Park Camping Trip

Last weekend I took Maya camping for her first time. We joined a big group of our friends from church up at Woolly Hollow State Park which is just about an hour from our house. It was an amazing weekend of food, laughter and kids playing in the wild. Here are a few pics from the weekend.

Maya had such a blast — and not an electronic device in sight! Even if she did wear the same clothes for three days in a row, I don’t care — I count this a win. In fact, we loved it so much, I bought a big 8-person tent for the next time, so Anthony and the other girls can go too. These are precious memories in the making right here.IMG_4911

iPhones and Bernie Sanders

I had some random thoughts this morning after seeing Bernie Sander’s win in Wisconsin, so amuse me as I dare to put them in print.

Nobody expected Bernie Sanders to still be in the presidential race…including Bernie himself, I’m guessing. So why is he doing so well? Why is this 70-something senator drawing in thousands of young people? I think the answer is the iPhone.

Young people (and even old ones like me) love iPhones. Mine is never far from me — even when I’m asleep. My teen and pre-teen daughters are the same. No longer do they have to use a card catalog at the library to do a research paper — they just “google it” on their phones. No longer do they have to WAIT for information — it’s at their fingertips 24/7. I think this access to technology has changed an entire generation. Delayed gratification is a thing of the past. And they don’t mind paying a monthly premium for that privilege.

Bernie Sanders is an idealist. He wants free healthcare and college for all Americans. He wants equality and justice. He wants to take the big boys down a notch. Even Bernie himself admits that these ideas will be hard to achieve — that it takes collaboration with Congress. But he dreams, he hopes for a better future.

I think that’s what appeals to the young people in our country. They too dream and hope for a better future. And they don’t mind paying a little extra for it via taxes. And let’s admit it, they won’t have to work as hard if college is free. I’m not saying that young people are lazy, just that they have the “there’s an app for that” attitude.

So even if Bernie Sanders doesn’t win the presidency, I think he’s been good for this election cycle. He’s dared us to think about possibilities, to think about a USA that doesn’t have to be stuck in the status quo, and to open our minds to what could be. I hope the young people in our country will take that ideal and run with it.

Not sure if my political musings this morning have any merit, but thought I’d just put it out there.

Spring Break in Snowmass

Spring break is one of the things I miss most about being a kid — along with Christmas and summer breaks. But this year, I got to be a kid again and go on a fun spring break trip to Snowmass, Colorado, with my church. We had about 60 people crammed into five vehicles. It snowed. It was beautiful and relaxing. And it was just what I needed.

Even though I didn’t ski, it was a lovely vacation. Next year, I want to take Maya. I really think she would love it, and she’s the perfect age to learn to ski. Maybe the entire Valley crew will go. I was so impressed with the kids activities that were available at Snowmass.

Everything came into bloom and greened up back in Arkansas while I was gone, so I’m fighting allergies now. And catching up on sleep.

Until next spring break…

A blog by Stacey Valley.