Southern Blondie

Thirty-ONEderful Charity Donation: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas

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Families Going Home Photo

It's the third month of "Thirty-ONEderful Charity Donation" and this month I am donating $31 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas (RMHCA). I can't believe it's already August! That means back to school for many, and much more traffic for me in the mornings to work. However, it also means that there are children and families who are not going back to school yet this year because they are currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas

About two years ago, I visited and toured what the RMHCA of Arkansas provided here in Little Rock. It was incredibly humbling.  They've really created a 'home-away-from-home' for more than 33,000 families who have traveled here for pediatric care from all over the state. 

Here's how they describe their home: 

"While RMHCA cannot make medicine taste better or take away painful treatments, we can provide a place to stay each night and the little things that are otherwise easily taken for granted: warm meals, a hot shower, play spaces and friendly faces to come home to after a long day. We are not a hotel, but a warm "home-away-from-home" with a sense of community and support."

Each family is given a private bedroom, bed and bath linens, free laundry facilities, access to common areas with tv's, outside play areas, and access to two kitchen areas. It costs the house around $80 per room, per day to operate. 

No family is ever turned away because of inability to pay. 

As August rushes by, and the traffic begins to increase, and school supplies are aplenty, think about the children and families who are not getting ready to take their first day back to school photo this year. Those are the kids that I want to support this month by helping their families find a little comfort wherever they can during their stressful time. 


And I cannot forget to mention one of the most important jobs at RMHCA. The Director of Smiles, Mac. How could you not feel a bit better about life getting a hug from him?



If you can't give monetarily, but you can give your time, there are LOTS of ways to get involved with volunteering. Or, keep up with them in the news.  You can also buy house necessities off of their Amazon WishList and have the items sent to the house! Shop hereAnd if you do want to give, go here


July - Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance 
August - Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas
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Easy Zucchini Taco Boats

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There is something that happens in your thirties that I was told so many times about but never really believed to be true... it really does matter what you eat! To keep my meals filling but light, I have been really enjoying zucchini taco boats. Who knew that tacos would actually be delicious in a vegetable boat made of zucchini. 



Here are a few of the main ingredients. These boats are perfect for summer because zucchini is always affordable either at a grocery store or farmers market. 


First thing is first ... halve the zucchini. 



Next, I take a spoon and scoop out the innards and toss them. 


Once the zucchinis are halved and scooped, lay them on a sprayed oiled baking sheet lined with foil. I like to pre-bake the zucchini for about 15-20 minutes on 350 degrees F. 


While the zucchini is pre-baking, now is the time to cook the ground beef. I'm sure it's much better to make your own taco seasoning, but for the sake of time after a long day of work, I don't mind using a pre-made seasoning. 


Once the ground beef has been cooked and seasoned, I like to let it cool a bit and add it to the pre-baked zucchini boats. 


Next, add some cheese to the top of the taco ground beef and let it bake again for about 10-15 min at 350 degrees F. 


Once everything is cooked together, I like to top the taco zucchini boats with a reduced-fat sour cream, salsa, more cheese, sliced avocado, jalapenos ... whatever you like on a taco!   




Enjoy!

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Classic #NSale Items You Have to Buy!

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It's one of the most exciting times of the year! It's the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale where you can get the best deals on fashion and beauty! I do MAJOR damage every year with this sale, but I also am so thankful throughout the fall/winter for these investment clothing pieces. 

The sale has started now for anyone who has a Nordstrom card, and then it will be available to the general public on July 21. If you don't have a Nordstrom card, I suggest adding the items you want to your cart so you can get them ASAP on the 21st!

Never, ever calling buying clothes simply, 'shopping.' Call it, 'Investing.' Why? Because it's better to save $$$ now than spend MORE later. Here are my picks for the BEST classic pieces that you can invest this year in the #NSale: 

Classic #NSale Items You Have to Buy



3. BP Tee w/Pocket (SO many colors!!) 




Why did I pick these pieces? Because they will be the most versatile throughout the year. The pumps you can wear with dresses, jumpsuits or jeans! The boots will be SO CUTE with skinny jeans and one of the BP. Tees!

And just for fun... here are a few more options. I bought these Trouve faux leather leggings last fall and I LOVE them. I just bought this fun Topshop sweater on the sale! Paired with these fun BP booties and it's a eas fall outfit. 

Are you shopping the #NSale this year? What are you buying?? (Not like I need more things to buy, but, hey, it's investing, right?!)
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Styled by Stitch Fix Review

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One of my absolute, favorite things in the whole wide world is shopping. It doesn't matter if it's for groceries, house decor, or clothes. Another one of my favorite things is when things just show up at my door. Recently, Stitch Fix offered to send me a free fix and there was no way I could say no to that! 

Now for a little show and Stich Fix tell... 



I received this KUT FROM THE KLOTH Callie Denim Jacket from Stitch Fix, and I LOVE it. I've always been a fan of a denim jacket, whether they are in style or out of style, to me they are just comfortable. 


Next, was this 41HAWTHORN Lilou Ruffle Neck Blouse. Navy is one of my favorite colors to wear all year round. This top would be great for wearing in the hot Arkansas summer, OR, layering for the fall with a cute denim jacket! 


This skirt will surprise you on how comfortable it is because it's so stretchy! I love the fun pattern on this MARGARET M Bethana Skirt


So when I pulled out this STATEMENT Shaena Wrap Dress my first thought was, eh. After I put it on I was IN LOVE! It's so soft, comfortable, and I think it's really flattering. It's also navy. 


This 41HAWTHORN Juanis V-Neck Blouse already looks great with a skirt that I already own! I think that's why I'm such a fan of clothing services like Stitch Fix. You can try on different clothing pieces with pieces you already own! 

What did you think of my fix from Stitch Fix? What was your favorite piece? Overall I was REALLY happy and impressed with this fix! I take back my words of saying that I was forever done. For $20, it's still so much fun to receive a box of clothes, especially when you can usually buy all five items for under $250! 

If you haven't tried Stitch Fix, now is the time! Please use my referral link if you do. 
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Thirty-ONEderful Charity Donation: Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

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It's the second month of "Thirty-ONEderful Charity Donation" and this month I am donating $31 to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. July in Arkansas means long, summer days, taking vacations from work, and enjoying all that summer has to offer. For many kids in Arkansas, that means not having enough to eat. Did you know that 60% of Arkansas Students depend on schools meals? Hunger doesn't take a school break or a vacation. 



The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance works to reduce childhood hunger. They aren't just providing temporary food assistance, they are also working to create sustainable programs in communities across Arkansas and empowering Arkansansans with nutrition education and skills. To me that is SO important because it doesn't matter how much healthy food you grow or are given if you don't know how to cook it or why it is important, it will not become a priority. 


In 2009, Arkansas ranked #1 in the nation in childhood hunger. Since then, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance has worked to make inroads to turn the tide on childhood hunger, going from 1st to 5th nationally with the program os the No Hungry Arkansas Campaign. 


Here are some of the programs that are helping Arkansas kids: 



School Breakfast Program. The Alliance’s Arkansas No Kid Hungry campaign works with school districts and individual schools across the state to introduce Breakfast After the Bell programs that make breakfast part of the school day so children start their days focused and ready to learn. As of January 2017, the Alliance has helped more than 500 Arkansas schools―through technical assistance and grants―offer Grab & Go, Breakfast in the Classroom or Second Chance Breakfast to their students. According to the Arkansas Department of Education, we have seen a 3.6 million meal increase since Breakfast After the Bell became a priority in 2011.

Afterschool Meals Program. It’s a long time from lunch one day until breakfast the next. Our staff helps connect churches, schools, Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations with the resources they need to provide evening meals to children when school is out. Additional capacity building grants from Share Our Strength help sponsors develop successful, sustainable programs that serve more children and provide enrichment activities after school.  In 2016, 3.7 million afterschool meals were served to children who might not have otherwise had dinner. That is an increase of 21,185 meals over the previous year.

Summer Meals Program. Over 63 percent of Arkansas kids qualify for a free or reduced-price school lunch. When school is out, these children are at high risk of not getting the nutrition they need to remain active and healthy. Our staff helps organizations interested in feeding children to participate in the USDA-funded Summer Meals Program that provides free meals to children in safe, supervised locations. In 2016, the work of the Arkansas No Kid Hungry stakeholders resulted in 182 sponsor organizations serving meals at 1,044 sites across the state. More than 2.4 million meals were served to Arkansas kids during the summer of 2016.

Cooking Matters and Cooking Matters at the Store. These unique nutrition education programs teach low-income adults, teens, and kids the skills they need to plan, shop for and prepare nutritious meals on a budget.  Participation in a Cooking Matters course decreases an individual’s chance of remaining food insecure by 50%. In 2016, Cooking Matters classes and grocery store tours reached more than 9,000 Arkansans and remains an active partner in the Arkansas Governor’s Healthy, Active Arkansas 10-Year Plan to improve the health of every Arkansan.



It's hard to imagine being hungry with the amount of food and consumption that we have today, but it does still exist. So this month, my $31 donation will help provide food for children of Arkansas, education for Arkansans, and hopefully, provide more awareness to this issue that we are still facing. 


How can you get involved? You can donate here. You can volunteer here. You can learn more here



Thirty-ONEderful Charity Donation:
June - Heifer International 
July - Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance 
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