Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How I Hostess #WhileIWhiten {& A Giveaway!}

Thank you so much to Smile Brilliant for sending me a teeth whitening kit and for sponsoring the giveaway you can enter at the end of this post!

Easy At-Home Teeth Whitening with Smile Brilliant! https://www.smilebrilliant.com/#pugsandpearls

One of the things I have absolutely come to love is having people over for dinner! It might just be because I'm getting older, but going out to eat with people isn't as fun as it used to be. When you can have people over it's much more comfortable and you get to actually spend time with your friends. You have a chance to talk with more than just the person across from you, and you don't have to rush and say goodbye just because your bill came.

We try to have somebody over at least twice a month! Sometimes it's more often and sometimes it's less- it just depends on our schedule. I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of what I do before we have guests over! 

Since I'm a pro multi-tasker, I am going to be getting ready for our company while I whiten! I'm also a professional iced tea drinker, so my teeth have been crying out to be whitened for a long time now. And, whitening my teeth while I go about my regular day is the perfect fit. I love being productive and spending a little time on myself!

Smile Brilliant Whitening Kit - Pugs & Pearls Blog

Smile Brilliant Whitening Kit - Pugs & Pearls Blog

Smile Brilliant Whitening Kit - Pugs & Pearls Blog


With this at-home whitening kit you can whiten from 45 minutes to 3 hours, so you have plenty of time to get chores done or get ready for the day while whitening. I've whitened while I studied, cleaned the house and while we watched Netflix. This time I'm going to straighten up the house, get dinner going hopefully have a little time to relax before our friends come over! 

It's probably still a little too hot here to be forcing our friends to sit outside, but after pressure washing the back porch and getting a brand new outdoor table I was dying to use it. The porch is fairly easy to set up for guests because it's always pretty much set up for guests. All I have to do is plug in the string lights, ice the beverages, and make sure all the dog hair is off the cushions! My new table was also begging to be set, so I dressed it up a little too. Oh yeah, and because #Florida I have to light the citronella candles!

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog


How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

If we are having people over for dinner, I really try to have most of the food prepared ahead of time. When they get here I want to be able to visit and relax and not be bustling around the kitchen while everybody else gets to have fun! Keeping the meal simple is a big part of that. Tonight we are having spaghetti with homemade sauce, garlic knots and salad. I can get the sauce going on the stove and have the salad pre made so that all I have to do is make the pasta and throw the bread in the oven. 

Since I'm currently obsessed with cheese platters, I had to put one of those together too! It's amazing how presentation is everything with these trays. You'd never know that all the cheese, hummus and crackers are store brand! It's a huge crowd pleaser with not all that much effort. 

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

And I have to vacuum and sweep the floors before anybody comes over. Even if I just did it yesterday! With three pugs, you gotta. By that time, it's been an hour and I can take my whitening trays out! I can't believe how white my teeth are getting. 

You're going to laugh, but I started doing all of this way before dinner time. It's because I always feel like I have a million things to do, but it never fails that I'm ready too early. There are worse things, because I end up having time to sit down and relax. Everything is done, and that's the whole point because now I can enjoy our friends and not be fussing over something! 

Anytime I sit down I end up with a pug on my lap! Winston was obviously my helper today. Meanwhile Delly and Bailey were the smart ones and were hanging out inside with the A/C. 

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog

How I Hostess - Pugs & Pearls Blog


I've been using my whitening kit for a little over two weeks - check out this before and after! I still have plenty of whitening gel in my box, so I'm excited to see how much brighter my smile will continue to get. 

Smile Brilliant Before and After

Giveaway! Want to win a whitening kit of your own? I can't recommend Smile Brilliant enough! To enter the giveaway just head over here! You could win $139 credit to spend with on your new smile. The giveaway is open for 1 week, so make sure you enter right now! (Open to USA, UK, Australian and Canadian residents) 

If you want to go ahead and purchase your kit, make sure you use pugsandpearls10 for 10% off! 

Leave a comment below if you are an over preparer! Do you prefer going out with your friends, or having them over? What do you usually make for dinner guests? And I'd love to know if you entered the giveaway! 

While Smile Brilliant provided me with a whitening kit to share my experience, I want to assure you that all opinions expressed in this post are honest and real! 

Tooth Whitening Gel

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Club: The Almost Sisters



Summary: 
From Goodreads:  
Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy--an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.


What I Didn't Like:
Honestly, I just wish this story kept going!

What I Liked: 
I finished this book in 2 sittings, so it's a very readable book. I admit that I usually skim a lot when I read, and I didn't skim once in this story. I really liked the plot and all of the little sub plots. Even though there was a lot going on, it all flowed together and it was easy to keep up with. 

Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5 Stars (1: hated it, 2: didn't like it, 3: liked it, 4:liked it, 5: loved it)
I accidentally stole this book from my mom. She told me she had a book for me, and I mistakenly grabbed the one she was currently reading! I felt pressured to read it really quick so I could give it back to her, but it was so easy to do. Loved this story and I wished it would have kept going so I could read more about Batman. 

Pinterest - Twitter Bloglovin - Blog Disclosure - More Book Recommendations!
This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hurricane Irma Diaries

Hurricane Diaries - Irma 2017

I have lived in Florida my entire life, and hurricanes just come with the territory. Not unlike blizzards in the north, or earthquakes in California. I have so many memories of 'Hurricane Days' when school would be canceled and we would drive our mom crazy from being stuck inside. 

Blake and I got so many texts and calls this week from family and friends who live out of state wondering what we were going to do. Hurricane Harvey has been fresh on everyone's minds too. The thought struck me that most people have no idea what a hurricane is like or what we do to prepare. I decided to keep a little diary of what Irma was like for us! 

Preparation
The eye and the upper right quadrant are the most dangerous parts of the storm. So where that section lands is going to be devastated. The rest of the hurricane is mostly just tons of rain and wind. We live in north Florida, and not all that close to either the Gulf or the Atlantic. So typically we are not under mandatory evacuations or even experience the worst of the storms. (Although many were because they lived in low areas or mobile homes.) It's not an afternoon rain shower, but unless it's over a Category 2, it's really just a (very) bad storm. We know we will likely lose power and probably have downed limbs. 

That being said, we are not dumb and we are happy to leave if we need to! We are not attached to our home and possessions that much to risk being hurt. The models for Irma have changed every day so we were closely monitoring them. On Saturday the models changed again and it began to look like it was heading exactly toward us. And they changed again on Sunday more westward. At that point by the time it had gone up the entire state it would hopefully be a category 1 or 2. That still means 75-90 mph winds. 


We decided to stay and ride it out. I'd say 98% of our friends and family decided to do the same thing, and that was encouraging to us. If we had to leave, we would, but it would not be fun. The roads were slammed and there wasn't any gas at any station close to us. 

Everyone should have a 'go-bag' with the essentials. Ours was ready to go but we still needed to accrue water and food. Food was easy to obtain on Tuesday. I spent the most money I ever have at Publix! It doesn't need to be fancy freeze dried food or anything like that. I could live off peanut butter sandwiches anyway. The problem was navigating the clogged aisles while trying to think about an entire week's worth of groceries plus hurricane food. I did not want to go back there if I could help it! 


Water is a different story. I get so frustrated about this! The bottled water flew off the shelves an entire week before the storm. Finally a few days later they started getting emergency shipments, but they were depleted really fast. Because this always happens we bought 3 five gallon igloo coolers (the orange ones you see on the sidelines) to fill up with our tap water. Most people in our area have wells, and if the electricity goes out they can't pump it. We have city water and don't have that problem. But, if the river overflows into the aquifer our water can be tainted. Fine to flush the toilet, but not good to drink. I also threw a few of our reusable water bottles into the freezer to be used as ice packs if the power goes out.

Then we got our house ready. We put away anything and everything that could get blown around. Anything can become a projectile if the wind is bad enough. Thankfully we have a decent sized shed and our chairs and string lights easily tucked away in there. We charged our flashlight batteries too and got our important paperwork together in a place that could easily be grabbed if we needed to go. 



We are getting ready to do some major landscaping this fall so just ignore all of that. 



Saturday
Saturday was just a big waiting game for us. The bottom half of the state was getting hammered by the storm, and we were only just beginning to experience the outer bands. Boredom set in pretty quick between the monotony of checking the weather and trying to distract ourselves. We still had power, so we were trying to eat up the food in the fridge and watch tv while we had it. Just knowing we would be stuck inside all day the next day was so irritating. (Definitely not a person who sits still!)

Blake worked on a lego set, because he is still a kid at heart. I took a nap because I didn't sleep so well the night before with all the build up of anxiety. Then we played video games! He somehow set up a mini game system that has all the N64 games that we all grew up with. Many, many games of Mario Kart were played! 

The hardest part was getting the dogs to go outside! They don't like to go when it's raining, so I tried to get them out when we had 15 minutes of a break. 







We had power until we went to sleep at midnight. I woke up in the night and knew it had gone off. The wind was howling so I didn't sleep very soundly. The worst of it hit us around 6 to 7 am on Monday.

Monday
Irma was a category 1 storm when it hit us. The rain was pretty steady and the wind was bad, with big gusts every few minutes. We watched the storm for a few minutes and made sure we didn't have any leaks. After that we just went back to sleep! By lunch time it was over. We popped outside to check on everything and we just had a few limbs down. It was still misty outside so we waited a little while before adventuring out into the neighborhood.

Here is a video I took at about 7 am. Watch all the trees on the street, not just the palm: 



Our neighborhood had tons of whole trees down. One house had just put on a new roof and it was damaged! Blake and I went on a walk because we were going stir crazy and we were able to see what was going on around town. No one had power and even the traffic lights were out. 



We also didn't have cell phone data. We could call or text but that was it. That made it hard to connect with everyone. It finally kicked back on around 5 on Monday. 

We grilled up to frozen pizzas that we had in the freezer. It was SO good. I may just have to do that all the time now. The air was so cool, so we really enjoyed sitting outside. I actually needed to get my jacket!



Tuesday
Now power again on Tuesday. We were determined to be productive! There are only so many board games you can stand after awhile. Our fridge was leaking water, so we knew it was time to clean it out. I had been wanting to deep clean it anyway so no biggie. Unfortunately I used all of my clean kitchen towels to do it and can't wash any more. 

Then we went to town on our yard. We picked up all of the limbs, and mowed over all the fallen leaves and pine needles. I was also happy to put our porches back together since we had put everything up. Our yard now looks like nothing ever happened.

Here's a few pics from around town and our neighborhood:





We did discover a small leak in our master closet. After an adventure in the attic we think it's an easy fix. Oh, and a small hole was knocked out of the siding by some sort of projectile. Nothing serious. 

My sister has a generator so we were able to go over and charge our flashlight and cell phones. They also rescued two baby squirrels! They fell out of their tree. An expert on raising squirrels now has them, but they were so cute!


We also grabbed dinner at Moe's together. They were open but had very limited ingredients. And it was packed due to the interstate travelers heading home. We have food at the house but it was nice to have a hot meal in the A/C.

So as I type this on my phone, outside, we still don't have power. Blake is expected to work tomorrow since their office is back up and running. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. I'm avoiding the cold shower I have waiting for me! 

FPL promises all of our power will be on by Saturday...but we are hoping that it's much sooner than that!! Camping is fun and all but I'm so ready to be back in my normal routine. 

Overall we are just thankful that it's over with and it wasn't worse.