Tailgating with Murphy USA

Murphy Express

Murphy ExpressA few years ago, when Babydoll was smaller and Vince was out to sea, she and I would have our own little mini-tailgating parties.  We’d buy or make fun food that we didn’t always eat and sit around and watch football.

She’s now nine and says she remembers those little shindigs.  We haven’t at all kept up with football this season {we’ve been so busy}, but we decided that it would be fun to have a little special event and do one of our mini-tailgating parties again.

Party Prep

We were going to head to a Murphy Express gas station, a larger format Murphy USA gas station that also sells items such as snacks, drinks, and propane.  Not sure what we’d find, we made a list of things we thought we might want to purchase there.  Babydoll wrote it out, adding a thing or two!

When we arrived at the store, we discovered it was a smaller Express.  This probably meant fewer items to choose from, but we decided this was a challenge for us, and we embraced it!

This particular Express did not sell propane {although most do}, so we were unable to pick that up.  We went inside and found quite a bit of products in that little space!

Salty snacks - We found several things we'd never seen before, like a "Munchies" mix of Rold Gold, Cheetohs, Doritos, and Sun Chips.

Nuts, seeds, and trail mixes

More salty snacks, caramel Bugels {who knew?}, some popcorn, and a few meds at the top.

Movie theater candy!! It is hard to find some of this stuff anywhere else!

Well, we could get three of the things on our list, so we set out to find the chips, candy and drinks we wanted!  Babydoll quickly spotted the surprisingly large beef jerky section and set out to decide which thing she wanted.

Next we chose a Munchies mix, Bugels, caramel popcorn and a dark chocolate Milky Way. Yes, for us, our mini-tailgating parties are an excuse to eat a bunch of junk at one time. Don’t worry, we did supplement with some carrot sticks and guacamole!

We needed something to wash everything down, so I picked up a Smart Water {love those!} and Babydoll grabbed a chocolate milk.

Despite the small size of the store, and the large number of people waiting to check out, the process went pretty fast.  Each time the line got long, the clerk would call another clerk in to help out.  I loved that!

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few more items for our party, and we were set!

The Main Event

We made a few extra items to go along with our Murphy Express goodies, and settled in to watch the game.  Traditionally, we root for the Carolina Panthers {we’re a Carolina family}, but there game was not being broadcast here, so we settled on a Broncos/Packers game.  We’re not fans of the Packers, so we were hoping the Broncos could pull off a win!  It’s been chilly here, so we got comfy and started watching.

We waited for the Broncos to score and headed into the kitchen to feast!  Babydoll did a great job of laying everything out on the bar, so we sat there and finished out the game munching away.  It was so much fun and just like old time.

Only, I can’t handle all that junk anymore, at least not at once, so I had to add some leftover potato-corn chowder to the menu…

Unfortunately, the Broncos couldn’t pull off a win, but we still enjoyed ourselves and can’t wait to do it again!

If you’d like to see more pictures of our excursion, check out my thisMoment!

Check to see if there is a Murhpy Express in your area; many of them are quite large and look like they have a massive selection of products!!  You can also like Murhpy USA on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

True Confessions:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  Of course compensation is fun, but restarting a fun tradition with Babydoll is priceless!!

{CLOSED} Advertising Blitz Giveaway Hop


Welcome to the BSMB Advertising Blitz Giveaway Hop!

This event features over 40 blogs offering giveaways for free advertising on their site!  I’m also offering a few ad specials for the duration of the event!!

The majority of Sweet Phenomena readers are mothers aged 18-34.  These women have a great deal of purchasing power in their households.  By taking advantage of strategic advertising, you can place your blog and business in front of these women.

I offer the following advertising options on Sweet Phenomena:

Sidebar Advertising
Website or Company Features
Sponsored Posts
Sponsored Tweets

If you would like a copy of my PR kit, feel free to contact me!!

During the event, I have a few advertising specials available:

  • Buy three months of 125 x 125 ad space for $25 and get three months free
  • One year of 125 x 125 ad space for $100 {a savings of $65}


One person is going to win a 3 month sidebar button ad on my site!  You must provide the button (png or jpg), 125 x 125 in dimension and family friendly only please.

Visit the other sites participating in the BSMB Advertising Blitz Giveaway to find more great giveaways and offers!

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Sweet Critique: Camtasia Studio Video Editing Software


Camtasia Studio is screen recording and video editing software by TechSmith.  It can be used to train, teach, and do just about anything else you’d want video for.

The thing is absolutely amazing!  I was a bit concerned about reviewing it as first because I’ve never really dabbled in video {although I’ve wanted to start vlogging}, but when it was mentioned that this could be used in homeschooling, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

What Can It Do?

Well, it can do more than I’d ever know how to.  You can use it to edit video, as I’ve mentioned before.  This is helpful for bloggers, families, and businesses; pretty much everyone.

There are tons of professional options in the software, and they’ve done a great job of providing tons of support videos.  This really eases any nervousness you might have.  I watched the intro/getting started video {I was really terrified when I first opened it up…} and immediately felt at ease and excited to use it.

What I really love about Camtasia Studio, though, is the ability to record what’s on the screen, complete with added audio and/or video {picture-in-picture}.  This is just genius, and could really be pivotal in the future of homeschooling.

Camtasia Studio gives you pretty much any option you’d ever want when doing this:  cursor highlighting, callouts to call attention to specific things, zoom, transitions, and much more.  You can really make your videos stand out.

In addition, you have the ability to record PowerPoint presentations.  You can do so with just audio, or {this is so cool} you can use a webcam to record yourself teaching, creating a picture-in-picture effect to go along with the slides.

Getting Started

I was up and running in no time.  Setup was really easy and nothing to be afraid of.  The good folks at TechSmith anticipated your needs and took the opportunity to proactively begin answering questions with a product tour:

Missed that? No problem, each time you log in {for as long as you leave it selected} you’ll have the opportunity to watch the getting started video.

In addition to the information in the software, there are a ton of resources on the TechSmith site to help you get the most out of the software.  I like the section on using the tool with PowerPoint.

How Can This Help Homeschoolers?

Oh man, I think the possibilities are endless!  Have a special talent that you feel would be easier taught using video rather than an eBook?  Use Camtasia to put it together.  Want to offer the co-op class you teach to students around the world?  Use Camtasia.  Want to add diversity to your teaching?  Use Camtasia.

I especially think software like this will be invaluable going forward because technology is becoming so much a part of homeschooling.  Just take a look at things like Khan Academy.

How Can This Help Bloggers?

If you want to at all get into vlogging, this is your man right here!  I would use this thing hands down to put together things for my blog.  This software will help you put together professional looking videos not only to engage with your readers, but to teach as well.

One last thought:  It’s pretty.  Sure, not a huge factor, but I’m a girl and I like pretty, classy, awesomesauce looking stuff.  Camtasia Studio is pretty awesomesauce stuff.

Now that I’ve made you want to start vlogging and teaching via video, don’t you want Camtasia?!?!  Well, the lovely folks at TechSmith are giving away a license to one lucky reader!!!  Guys, this is a $299 value!

Making Our Own Science Fair Display #ElmersScienceReady #GlueNGlitter


A couple of weeks ago I told you guys about our experience making butter.  While it was fun and tasty, I didn’t think Babydoll quite got the science behind it.  Talking about it was all well and good, but I needed something more…

So, why not do a science fair project?!?!

Babydoll has never entered a science fair before, and she loves to color and glue, so I figured this would be a great way to get her to really understand the concept behind the butter.

The Supplies

I needed supplies to get started, so I made a stop at Walmart while Babydoll was at soccer practice.  It would be gutsy going in on a weekday evening, but I made the sacrifice.  Garden Center entrance for the win.

Elmers X-TREME glueI’ll admit that I’ve never really looked at all of the stuff in the Elmers section; there is quite a bit to choose from.  I was surprised {and happy} to see how many different types of glue were available.  We’ve used the regular glue sticks before, but this project calls for something more heavy duty.  Enter X-TREME glue.

And of course we’ll need the standard tri-fold display board.  Only, there aren’t just standard display boards available now.  Being the lover of foam core that I am, I went with the foam core tri-fold board by Elmers.  I had no idea Elmers made so many types of tri-fold boards

Armed with our tools, we set out to complete the project again. After all, who doesn’t need more butter?

The Experiment

First, fill a mason jar halfway with cream.  Take it from us:  leave your cream out for 12 hours.  It won’t make you sick and it will make it easier on your arms.

Next, shake the jar for about three to five minutes.

Shake until you see little bits of butter and liquid separate from each other.  The bits are butter, and the liquid is buttermilk.

Pour the contents of the jar into a strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.

Finally, you can either mold your butter or just place it into a storage container and refrigerate.  That’s it, you’ve made your own butter!

The Display

With the “fun” stuff over, it was time to talk about what just happened.  Babydoll despises writing, so I decided to ease her pain and type up the information we needed.  I typed while Babydoll dictated the whole experiment, and the science behind it, for me.

We printed off our information, the pictures from the experiment, and began to plan our board.  We’re both perfectionists, and notice different things, so this was a bit hard for us!  It was a great way to spend time together and do something a bit out of the ordinary and fun with science; I’m so glad we did it!

I’m also glad we chose the board we did; it’s nice and sturdy, great quality.  Elmers does have a variety of boards in different shapes, sizes, colors, and price points.  This is great because the boards can be used for a variety of things.  They don’t just sell tri-fold boards either; they had quite a few one piece boards on display as well.

Alright, now that we’ve figured out where we want everything to go, it’s time to attach it all.  Time to put the X-TREME glue stick to work!

That thing is freakin’ sweet!  It glides smoothly with little to no mess and it holds tight.  It’s not slippery, either, like some glue can be.  I like that because you can avoid something shifting out of place.  I really was pleasantly surprised.  *heart it*

Here’s our finished project!  We had a lot of fun working on this together!!

Check out my thisMoment for  lots more fun pictures of my whole shopping trip, the experiment, and putting the display together!

True Confessions:  This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #ElmersScienceReady #collectivebias #CBias.  It was so much fun and I loved it and I can’t wait to do another one.  But, you still got my honest opinion.