Anchors Aweigh : March 2015


Italian Cream Cake

Since Easter is this Sunday, I want to share my all-time favorite Easter dessert. This is probably my all-time favorite dessert period, actually. My Nana made this for Easter every year growing up and it's just the best cake I've ever had. Parker had never had it before we got married, but it might be his all-time favorite cake now too. He couldn't stop talking about it, so I think I know what I'll be making for his birthday each year now! Since I wasn't home for my birthday for my mom or Nana to make it for me, I made this cake this year for my birthday too. I'm not going to lie, there is effort involved in the cake, but it's so worth it. 


1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup Crisco
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 cup coconut

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 lb box of powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped

Directions for your cake:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three round 9'' pans and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and Crisco and gradually add in sugar. Add egg yolks and beat well. 
3. In a small bowl, stir together baking soda and buttermilk.
4. Add flour and buttermilk mixture alternatively to cake, mixing as you go so everything is fully incorporated. 
5. Add in coconut and mix well. 
6. In a small bowl, beat egg whites so they are stiff. This will take a couple of minutes. 
7. Fold in well-beaten egg whites to your cake mixture. 
8. Pour cake batter evenly into 3 greased and floured pans and bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
9. Remove pans from the oven and let cool completely. 

Directions for your frosting:

1. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and pecans until fully incorporated.
2. When cake is COMPLETELY cooled (your cake will be ruined if you try to frost it while it is still warm), frost your cake. Frost in between each layer before stacking your tiers, frost on the top, and frost on the outside so that all cake is covered with frosting when you look at it. 

Cut into pieces and enjoy! 

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Recent Reads: March

My quest to be a bookworm is still going strong! I wanted to share my thoughts on 3 of the books I read this month. I suppose this post is a little "Bachelor-themed" because two of the books I read were written by celebrities from the franchise. Sorry I'm not sorry, ladies and gents. I've been addicted to that silly show for too many years not to check out a few of the Bachelor reads. So, here we go! Recent reads in March...

I Didn't Come Here To Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain 
By Courtney Robertson

As a bachelor fan who remembers her season well, I found Courtney's book very entertaining. Obviously she is the author, but she came off very likable in her book and I found myself rooting for her. So yes, it was very entertaining. That said, I cannot in good conscious recommend it to someone because it was pretty vulgar. I enjoyed her honesty and sarcasm but a few details/words could have been spared. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. If you're a Bachelor fan and don't mind the vulgarity, you'll enjoy it. 

For The Right Reasons 
By Sean Lowe

Yall, this was an awesome read. This novel chronicles Sean's life playing football, getting his heart broken on The Bachelorette, finding true love on The Bachelor, and marrying the love of his life. The book just drew me in, and I read over half of it in one sitting. Granted, I had 5 hours on a plane to endure, but this book made it go by so quickly. You feel really emotionally connected to Sean's journey and I recommend this book 10 times over. 5 out of 5 stars for sure. Even if you're not a Bachelor fan, it's a great reminder to rely on faith through the good and the bad. 

Where We Belong 
By Emily Giffin

I'm a big Emily Giffin fan, so I really liked this. It's an easy read, and the book alternates between the viewpoint of the two main characters (Marian and Kirby), so you really get to feel the story from both perspectives. This story is a great reminder that it's never too late to go after what you want or mend relationships. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for a fun Spring read. 

I've been adding books on goodreads like crazy and have a few titles I am really excited to read next!
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All About That Darla

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

Jenny has made countless appearances on this little blog, but I realize I haven't had too many posts dedicated to the other fluffball in our life, Darla. If you've read this blog long, you know Darla showed up on our doorstep one rainy night in Pensacola, Fl. Our friend then adopted her, but that friend had to go on deployment last year. So, Darla came to live with us for a little while. We are nearing the end of our time with her, a fact we are in total denial about. This pup has us wrapped around her little paw, and Jenny is going to miss her sister so much!

Fun fact: Parker and I actually got to name her. We were calling her Darla before our friend adopted her, and she liked the name so much that she kept it.

We do have a little more time with our Darla girl, so I thought I would share a few facts about her. 

First and foremost, Darla loves food. I know all dogs love food, but this dog lives for food. We don't feed our dogs from the table and the only human food they get is peanut butter, but that doesn't stop her from sitting by our feet at every meal, praying her pupper prayers that we drop something. Mealtime is this dog's favorite part of every day. The cool thing is Darla was really easy to train because she's so food motivated. 

Since she is about to go home to her mama, I wanted to make a little gift that could go with her. Since the first thing I think of when I think of Darla is her love for all things edible, I decided to get a little crafty and make a personalized food storage container for her. Darla sits in some really funny positions (let's be honest, she sits like a person), so she has a really distinct silhouette in pictures. I decided to print out one of my favorite pictures of her, trace it on the container, and color it in. 

Step 1... I picked up an airtight container with a good latch to keep out bugs. 

Step 2... I printed out a picture of her, cut out her silhouette, and taped it onto the front of the container. I wanted to do a black silhouette to make it more distinct. This was an obvious choice since Darla is all black with the exception of a small white patch on her chest. I traced her picture with a black sharpie. I then painted inside the lines with black paint. If you want to make your silhouette a different color, just make sure your paint is dark enough to cover up the sharpie you use.

Step 3... Add food! Big sister Jenny was checking it all out.

For any dog parents out there, we feed Darla Purina ProPlan. The biggest thing I look for when choosing a food for our dogs in the ingredients. It's amazing how many foods have "corn" as the first ingredient. Meat has to be the first ingredient in my book, and this food fits the bill. Darla is a very active little girl and loves to run and play. She needs good nourishment so she can keep up with her busy day of chasing squirrels and annoying Jenny ;)

Visit the Purina® Pro Plan® MyPLAN website to get your dog's MyPLAN recommendation and a rebate offer for a free bag of Purina® Pro Plan® Dry Dog Food (4-6lbs, up to $18.99.) Good only in U.S.A. A.P.O's, F.P.O's. Void where taxed, prohibited, restricted. Allow 6-8 weeks for shipment. LIMIT ONE REQUEST PER INDIVIDUAL, ADDRESS, or EMAIL ADDRESS. Offer expires 04/30/2015.

Darla loved her new food storage container so much that she just had to jump into it! Kidding, I put her in there and she gave me this look. Jenny has officially taught her the art of being unimpressed. Sorry I'm not sorry. It was cuteness overload and totally worth it.

I got a shot of Parker carrying the dog food out of Petsmart because he just looked like quite the dutiful dog parent. This was on a Friday night by the way. I don't know when running errands together started counting as a date night but I like it. It's the little things.

Though eating is a solid first place hobby, Darla does have other interests. She LOVES to snuggle and be around people. She is a lap dog and wants to be as close to you as possible. Parker calls her my shadow because she follows me around everywhere. It's really true. If I get up and walk into the other room, there is a little furry being a few steps behind me. Jenny, on the other hand, mans the couch. 

She also has a habit of putting a toy in her mouth when she gets excited. When Parker gets home from work and she hears the car door shut, she immediately runs into the bedroom where she has stashed a couple of toys, grabs one, and brings it to the door to wait for him. If I've cleaned up her toys and she can't find one, she starts to panic a little and run around in circles. Sometimes I hide her toy just to watch her reaction. Mean mom award. 

"Mom, wake up brown dog and make her play."

My little lap dog

So there is a little bit about the girl who stole our hearts during the months she has been a part of our family. She has been such an unexpected blessing, and I am so glad she chose our doorstop over 2 years ago. 
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Weekly Confessions

It's Thursday, which means we are one day away from everyone's favorite day of the week. A little light-hearted confessing sounded like a fine idea for today. Here's what's been going on in our world...

I confess... I was at a conference for work last week when I looked down and realized my pants were unzipped. I don't even know how many people I interacted with before I noticed, but it was a lot. Professional, party of one. 

I confess... Parker was gone for 10 days earlier this month. He came home with a bag of dirty laundry bigger than me and bragged, "I was the only one who didn't have to do laundry!". His gain, my loss. Laundry for days. 

I confess... Parker and I have a Saturday morning routine that we get giddy excited about. Every Saturday morning, I make those Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in a can. Why go homemade when they taste so good right out of the can? Saturday morning cinnamon rolls always make the top 5 moments of the week.

I confess... I was talking to my parents and somehow Abe Lincoln and the fact that he was really tall came up. I spouted off my shouldn't-count-as-medical-knowledge and told them it is believed he had Marfan syndrome, which could explain why he was so tall. I told them it also makes sense because he died young. My mom looked at me and said "well, he was assassinated, so that's probably more why he died young". Foot. in. mouth. Good call, mom. Good call. 

I confess... I restore Jenny's ears to factory settings at least once a day. It drives me nuts when one of her ears is flopped up, so Parker will flip it up when I'm not looking just to see me quickly "restore to factory settings". The OCD in me can't handle it. 

 Everyone have a wonderful day!

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So, Do You Have Kids?

"Do you have kids?" This has come to be the question I dread being asked. What should be black and white is so many shades of gray. It's not a rude or intrusive question by any means, and most people just ask casually as a conversation starter. The thing is though, when I hear that question, I immediately have to make a choice: say what I truly believe or say what others want to hear. 

I went over to my good friend's house a couple of weeks ago for a girls night. Her sweet mother was there whom I had never met. She started going around the table asking who had kids. My heart started beating faster and my palms started sweating. I was the last one in the circle, and I knew what was coming. When she came to me, my answer was "Uhhhhh, yes, but she's in Heaven". She couldn't have been sweeter in her response, but the mood instantly changed and the conversation grew more somber for a little bit. It had been almost 4 months since Taylor went to Heaven, and this was the first time I had to answer this question. 

I spoke to my dad about it the next day on the phone. I was just so torn about how to handle this going forward. In my heart, I cannot honestly say that I don't have kids. I just can't. I believe with everything that I am that I have a daughter and that she will always, always be the one who made me a mother. This hand print and foot print tell me I have a child. 

Society, however, doesn't see it that way. She is not here in the flesh, so to the world, I do not have a daughter. I am supposed to say "no" when people ask if I have kids. It's the socially acceptable thing to do. It's the comfortable thing to do. For everyone else, that is. One thing my dad pointed out is that this internal conflict will never end. Even if we are blessed with 10 healthy children, when people ask how many kids we have, do we say 10 or 11? 

This is something I have really struggled with over the past couple of weeks. Answering "no" to this question feels like I am denying that our Taylor Grace was ever here. Answering "yes" invites more questions and will ultimately end in people feeling uncomfortable. It's a lose/lose, but I have to make a choice. A few days later, a store owner asked the same question when I was out shopping. I said "no". It was the first time I had said "no" to that question since August 11, 2014, the day we found out we were pregnant. 

Ultimately, I will always know and believe that I have a kid. If we have 10 healthy children, I will know we have 11 altogether. When spending time with friends and family, I can talk about Taylor anytime I want. When a stranger on the street just brings up the question in passing, I need to give them the socially acceptable answer, smile, and know in my heart that there is more to the story. I don't see it as lying. It's all about how you interpret the question. Do I have a baby here? No, I do not. This is the question strangers are asking, so I will give them the answer they are looking for. In my heart though, I know there is so much more to tell. The question is anything but black and white. 

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A Couch Potato's Guide To Greener Living

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

I really like the idea of recycling and living a greener life, but I'm just not the type of person that wants to go to a lot of effort to do it. I once saw a family being interviewed on the news who was able to fit all of the trash they threw away in an entire year in a small jar. They composted/recycled everything. I had two thoughts: 1) Wow, that's so cool. 2) Wow, I could never do that. After I eat a banana, I just want to throw it away. I'd rather not go dig a bunch of banana peel graves in the backyard. 

That said, I have found there are some easy ways I can go green that don't require extensive effort on my part. For anyone who is, let's say, less motivated to go green but still likes the idea, this post is for you. I've put together 5 simple steps to go green designed specifically for the couch potato in us all. 

1. Donate Old Clothes
We all have old clothes that we don't wear anymore. I try to do a closet clean-out a couple of times a year (nothing makes you want to get rid of things like moving does). There were times where I would want to get rid of a shirt and just throw it away out of laziness. Yes, I have been guilty of this once or twice. Judge away, my friends. But, I recently discovered that there are charities that will come pick up your donations from your house! You just leave clothes, housewares, etc on the front porch and schedule a pick-up. Genius. I've done this several times, and it couldn't be easier. I've always used Purple Heart Pickup (, which benefits military veterans and their families. 

2. Go Paperless
I am in charge of paying the bills in our casa, and I've tried to make as many bills paperless as possible. If you go to the website for your bill, there will probably be an option at the bottom to select "Go Paperless". Your bills will be emailed to you, and you can just pay online. Super simple stuff, but it will save some paper!

3. Stop Paper Junk Mail From Coming To You
This is one that is good for both the earth and your sanity. I'm not a fan of all of the junk mail we get on a daily basis, and it's such a waste of paper because all I do is throw it away. There are many websites out there that will allow you to opt out of receiving junk mail. An example is 

4. Stop Using Water Bottles
Parker calls me a water snob. He's kind of right. I like the purified stuff, I like it fresh, and I like it cold. I am a big water drinker and could go through 5 water bottles a day pretty easily. Not only is this financially a waste, but it's a waste of plastic. Instead, I've started carrying around a cup with a lid and a straw everywhere I go. This cup is always filled and always with me, and I like knowing that I am saving some plastic in the process.

5. Use Energizer EcoAdvanced Batteries
This is the first battery on the market to use recycled batteries/materials. I use the AA most frequently, but they come in AAA as well. These batteries are the epitome of taking something old and creating something new. I'm pretty sure if you looked it up, that's how Webster would define recycling as well. Even though this is a new product, it's Energizer's longest lasting alkaline ever. Innovation station.

We picked up these bad boys at Walmart on a display near the check-out counter.

Before you go, enter the GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway for the chance to win $1000 in gift cards. Good luck!

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Small Bathroom Problems

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

We really love our house in Norfolk. It was built in 1942 and has so much character. We've never lived in an older home before, but this has been one of our favorite houses. Even though it is filled with character and so many different people and stories have taken place here, there is one thing you cannot escape with an older home: small bathrooms. And by small bathrooms, I mean very small bathrooms. Bottom line: there is just not enough space. Before I go further, here's a look at what I'm working with. Not too bad, but there isn't much storage space. 

I've realized that there really isn't anything I can do to increase the square footage of the bathroom itself. Once a small bathroom, always a small bathroom. I suppose we could gut it and start over, but I don't think our landlord would be too thrilled if we decided to get our DIY on. 

Knowing the only real thing I could do to improve my problem was to employ some mad organizational skills, I quickly got to work with sorting, labeling, and downsizing where applicable. We have two small bathrooms in our home, so I used the storage space of the guest bath to house all of the products we don't use everyday or may have excess of (extra soaps, shampoos, nail polish remover, insect repellent, aloe vera, etc). For the main bath, I stored all of our everyday use items (my make-up, hair accessories, mouthwash, his razor, lotion, etc).  I purchased small tubs that would fit underneath my sink and printed off labels to tape onto them so I would know what products were stored where. I also purchased a metal stand that would fit in the corner of my storage space that could house miscellaneous items.

Obviously the back of the sink and pipe don't look great, but there wasn't much I could do for that. 
Just those minor organizational changes really made a difference! By categorizing and being strategic on what I stored where, I really maximized on space. Now, my small shelf doesn't have to house toiletries. Instead, I have a spot for my beautiful candles!

I wanted to add something decorative that wouldn't make the bathroom look even smaller than it already is, and this monogram was just the ticket. 

The clear tubs and metal stand can be purchased on the cheap, so this little organizational overhaul will not break the bank. In the spirit of bathrooms, I also picked up a couple of new shower products at Walmart to give my dry skin an overhaul as we migrate into Spring. Also, I was kind of rewarding myself for the stellar organizing. I mean hard work deserves a little appreciation, right? I chose SoftSoap Fresh & Glow Hydrating Shower Cream and SoftSoap Fresh & Glow Exfoliating Fruit Polish. Showers are supposed to be relaxing, but it was hard to relax before when I knew how junky the bathroom was. Taking a shower in my new and improved space with Fresh & Glow body washes that rescued my skin from this winter spell was nothing short of luxurious.  

I have battled dry skin like never before this winter. It gets dry in Texas, but Virginia definitely takes the cake. The Hydrating Shower Cream provided that long-lasting moisture I've so desperately needed, and the exfoliating apricot seeds in the Fruit Polish felt wonderful.

Since these are new products, here is the aisle where I found them.
I may have very small bathrooms, but a little organization and some new bath products really make it feel like a new space. Thank goodness, because there is nothing more relaxing than a warm shower. Am I right or am I right?

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How To: Send A Care Package To Troops In Need

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

Even though we have been a military family for over 3 years, my husband has yet to deploy. That's the aviation life for you. Training never seems to end. His time is coming, but since he has never gone, I am new to the world of care packages. 

I stumbled across a website called where troops post items they are in need of while deployed. All branches are represented, and you can scroll through the different needs and choose who you want to support. I immediately knew I wanted to send something. When Parker is gone, I know he is going to receive package after package and have more than he will need. There are many people deployed who do not have family and do not receive mail. This just breaks my heart. 

This is the note I found from the marine I decided to send a care package to:

General hygiene items, like baby wipes. Any preserved food items (IE jerky, fruit strips). Any energy producing or boosting items with caffeine. We have infrequent access to showers and PX facilities. We have three single Marines specifically that do not get mail from family. Thank you for what you do. 

Seriously, when I read this my heart just broke into a million pieces. I grabbed Parker and our Friday date night turned into us perusing Walmart for items we thought these Marines would get good use out of. Parker gave me the helpful man perspective, and we put together a shopping list that I hope meets their needs.

Items We Included
  • Irish Spring Signature Body Wash and Irish Spring 3-pack of Bar Soap
  • Foot Powder
  • Breath Fresheners
  • Cough Drops
  • Fruit Roll Ups
  • Beef Jerky
  • 5-Hour Energy bottles
  • ChapStick
  • Baby Wipes
  • Thank You Note 

Here is a screenshot of the website I used to select a care package recipient. You can see what the troops have asked for. Once you pick someone, you request their address (it will be a military APO/FPO address), and you receive an email with the address. It was really straightforward. 

Now onto boxing up the items! Here is everything together. We had such a good time wandering through the store and grabbing things we thought would be useful. 

Since he specified hygiene items, I chose the Irish Spring Signature Body Wash (both 3-in-1 and hydrating varieties) and two 3-packs of Bar Soap (hydrating and exfoliating scrub varieties). This troop specifically is all men, so I wanted to send something masculine. 

The thank you note is so important, so don't forget that part! Especially for those who don't receive mail from family, they need to be reminded that we are proud of them and appreciative of what they are doing. I got so much joy in this project and cannot wait for the box to arrive! If you want to make your own box, select a name on the website, head to Walmart, and start here...

Seasoned military spouses: I would love to know what items your spouse wished for most when he/she was deployed!

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My 5 Favorite Ways To Enjoy Me Time

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

Parker was gone the past couple of weeks which is never fun, but I always try to make the most of it. These little Navy trips happen here and there and one day, it's going to be a big Navy trip called a deployment. I like to see the time Parker is gone as an opportunity. It's an opportunity to focus on me and catch up on some of my favorite past times. Don't get me wrong, I would much rather him be with me than be away, but focusing on myself and having some of that rare "me time" is always a treat. I thought I would share my top 5 favorite ways to enjoy "me time" and include one of my favorite girly recipes to boot!

My Top 5 Ways To Enjoy "Me Time"

1. Television
This one might go without saying. I watch much less TV than I used to, but I still have those few shows that I get overly excited to watch. My top 3 shows right now are: The Bachelor/Bachelorette, How To Get Away With Murder (How am I supposed to wait until September to find out what happens?!), and Grey's Anatomy. I could sit and watch episodes of these three shows for hours and be totally content. 

2. Reading
Remember when I posted back in December that I was a wannabe bookworm? I have no idea how it happened, but I am officially a reader. It just took finding the types of books I like and BAM, books became my friend. Emily Giffin is my all-time favorite author. Her stories are captivating and her novels are light and easy to read. 

3. Working Out
I am one of those people who will make 7 different excuses not to work out, but as soon as I actually bite the bullet and get my sweat on, I am so glad I did. There is no feeling like that after a solid work-out. Running is a great release for me and something I have enjoyed getting back into now that the weather is warming up. I have started doing weights as well and love accomplishing new goals with those. 

4. Blogging
Shocking, I know. Yes, blogging is my hobby. I enjoy writing posts and scheduling them to be published on my little corner of the interwebs. This is my creative outlet and has allowed me to express myself and hopefully inspire others along the way. Getting to share my pregnancy with Taylor Grace and her story has been my favorite blogging experience to date. 

5. Eating all the things
I'm a girl. Girls like to eat. Actually, I'm a person. People like to eat. I always laugh when girls say "I just love to eat". Well, duh. We all love to eat. If food weren't so stinkin delicious, we would all be size 2's. Sometimes, there is nothing better than curling up on the couch by myself with a bowl of ice cream. Seriously. That's just a nice moment right there. Since ice cream isn't great for my waist line, I look for guilt-free treats that I can feel better about eating. I discovered Müller® Ice Cream Inspired Yogurt at Walmart and decided to create a nutritious alternative to ice cream that I could enjoy on those evenings by myself. Enter: Guilt-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches.

This is the perfect indulgence treat with a balance of taste and nutrition. Each ice cream sandwich is only about 50 calories! Winning. 

This recipe makes about 15 ice cream sandwiches. 

2 containers of Vanilla Bean Müller® Ice Cream Inspired Yogurt (pictured above)
1 cup of fresh strawberries, pureed with stems removed
1 1/2 cups of lite whipped topping, thawed
graham crackers, halved
Mix your Vanilla Bean Müller® Ice Cream Inspired Yogurt, pureed strawberries, and whipped topping in a bowl. Stir until fully combined. 

Break your graham crackers in half. You will use about 30 halves total. TIP: When you inevitably break one of the halves (because odds are, you will), dip the broken piece in the yogurt mixture for a little cooking snack. A small taste never hurt anyone ;)

Place a couple of spoonfuls of your yogurt mixture onto a graham cracker half. Gently top with another graham cracker half. Take a knife and scrape off the excess yogurt on all four sides so it isn't overflowing. On a lined baking sheet for easy clean-up, place sandwiches in the freezer and freeze for an hour before eating. Leave any you don't eat right away in the freezer and grab-n-snack as you please!

Müller® Ice Cream Inspired Yogurt is a new product (They also have raspberry chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip options in addition to the vanilla bean), so here's where you can find them at Walmart:

I actually attended a demo at Walmart and got to try some of these yogurts first hand. If you are anything like me, you love a good sample!

Love Muller? Visit to sign up for their mailing list and receive the latest news and offers. As a thank you, you'll also get a coupon to use on your next purchase. 

So there you have it! Those are my 5 favorite ways to indulge in "me time". What are your go-to activities when the husband is away or the kids are asleep? I only chose 5, but I'd like to point out that sleeping gets honorable mention as a "me time" activity. Yes, sleep is a friend. 

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