Thursday, December 31, 2009

FedEx Office: Out of the Office

I am constantly scouring the internet for fun do-it-yourself projects, craft ideas, or projects I can do with Little Man. I've never been all that artsy, but with a set of directions and a picture or two, I can create almost anything.I was recently introduced to the Out of the Office blog from FedEx. Filled with ideas for projects, presents, and parties, there's something for everyone. There are ideas for invitations and place cards, tips on how to turn your child's artwork into a notebook, large poster, or thank you notes. And in the future, the blog will be featuring contests and giveaways, themed series, how-to videos, and the creative insights of guest bloggers and customers.

With the holidays ending, I find my house covered with partial rolls of wrapping paper-from this year and years past. Out of the Office offers some interesting ideas for leftover paper, including creating bookmarks, placemats, and drawer liners. Such festive ideas for recycling remaining paper.

If you try out any of the projects, I'd love to hear how they turned out! I think I'm going to create the family cookbooks as a Christmas gift for next year. Who wouldn't love having all the recipes for their childhood favorites all in one place?!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of FedEx Office. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Review: Tinycandy's Gift

Christmas may be over, but we are still reading Christmas books in our house. There are so many wonderful ones out there. It's not fair to only read them once a year. We recently had the chance to read Tinycandy's Gift written by Susan E. Estes and illustrated by Mike

In Tinycandy’s Gift, Estes creates a unique history of how the candy cane got its name and weaves in a classic tale that conveys to children one of the pivotal rules of life. Estes has spent her life working with and raising children and believes that teaching them to appreciate their own and others’ differences is the most important lesson of all.
Tinycandy's Gift follows a small elf at the North Pole. Tinycandy is on a search for his gift. He wants to find the one thing that will make him special. Tinycandy must learn to overcome obstacles though. He deals with his differences, unfriendly elves, and several unsuccessful attempts at creating toys. And yet, he perseveres to find his talent.

My five year old was very attentive throughout the book. He loved the story of how the candy cane first came about and only interrupted me once.

Look in your stocking when you awake--
If you have been good, you can partake.
Santa has placed a candy cane for you,
Made by elves who hearts are now true.

After hearing this, my son grabbed my arm and announced, "That must be why I got so many!"

Tinycandy's Gift is a wonderful Christmas story to share with little one's during the holiday. It teaches determinations, forgiveness, and hope. This is one we will definitely be reading again.

Buy It
You can purchase Tinycandy's Gift at Amazon for $14.95.

While a copy of the book was provided for our review, all opinions are our own.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Chaos

This weekend felt like a never-ending Christmas.

We started Thursday, having Christmas with the in-laws. Little Man was so excited about with the new bike they brought him, as well as the one they brought for mommy and daddy to share. Seeing as how mommy hasn't ridden a bike in over 15 years, it may be a very interesting gift.

Christmas morning was filled with excitement, a flurry of wrapping paper, and lots of coffee.
Christmas #3 at my parents was even more eventful, with 3 kids age 6 and under, plus a whole slew of adults.
Our Christmas events finally ended after two trips to great-grandparents' houses and a visit from my sister. So after a total of 6 (6!?!) mini-celebrations, we are trying to recover from the madness.
My house looks like Santa's sack exploded. There are toys needing new homes, new clothes I need to squeeze into closets, and pots and pans waiting to replace my pathetic 8 year old, scratched and dented Dollar Store set. But I'm exhausted just thinking about it and ready for a nap.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and has rested up from all the excitement!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday filled with family and friends!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ecostore USA Review & Giveaway

*Closed: Congrats to Anonymous!*

I struggle at times to be more eco-friendly. Some things are simple, reusable shopping bags, energy efficient light bulbs, low-flow shower heads. Others don't always come so easily to me.

I want to use more eco-friendly cleaning supplies and bath items, but have tried many that don't seem to clean as well as they promise. And time and time again, I find myself reverting back to my old standbys.

I recently had the chance to try a few products from ecostore USA. ecostore USA offers more than 100 products that meet the most stringent environmental and sustainability standards. The guiding principle of each product is that it must not only be good for the user, but also for the planet.

Since moving into our house, I've struggled to find a dish detergent that works well with our dishwasher. So I decided to try the Auto Dish Powder. Made from blend of simple mineral salts, citrus, and Coconut oils, I was impressed at how well the powder cleaned my dishes. With many soaps, they come out needing to be rewashed. However, I did not have an issue with the Auto Dish Powder.
We also tried out the Baby Body Wash. ecostore USA describes this as being an incredibly mild and cleansing formulation that will leave your precious child's skin soft and silky.

My 5 year old battles dry skin during the winter, so I thought this sounded perfect for him. After using it several times, I am thrilled at the difference compared to other soaps. His skin is much softer and the number of complaints about "itchy skin" have drastically decreased. And with an incredibly light scent, it is perfect for a little boy who doesn't want to smell "too girly." Buy It:
Baby Body Wash is available for only $6.00 right now and the Auto Dish Powder is $7.20! (Sale prices in effect until the end of the year)

Win It:
One lucky reader will win a $25 gift certificate for ecostore USA

To enter: Visit ecostore USA and tell me what you would purchase if you won.

Want extra entries? (Leave separate comments for each)
Be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Giveaway ends 12/31 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email.
Open to US only.

Thanks to ecostore USA for providing the product for review. All opinions expressed are our own.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Angels

Walmart Holiday Meals Under $30 Giveaway

***Closed: Congrats to Cindy and Nancy***

Getting ready for the holidays is stressful enough. There are presents to buy (and wrap and hide), cookies to bake, houses to clean. Then there's the holiday meal. Not only does it involve time I often can't find, it also includes spending money I haven't budgeted in during the holiday season.

I assume I'm not alone in feeling this way, as Walmart has teamed up with Chef Aarón Sánchez to offer tips on cooking a holiday meal for under $30.

Walmart’s $30 Christmas feast for eight includes:
  • One 10-pound spiral cut half-ham
  • Three 8-ounce cans Del Monte Green Beans
  • One 10-pound bag of Russet potatoes
  • One 12-count package of Sara Lee dinner rolls
  • One 10 inch Pumpkin Pie
While the New Years Eve party spread for 10 (for as low as $40) includes:
  • Shrimp Tray (5 servings)
  • Vegetable Tray (10 servings)
  • Hillshire Farms Little Smokies (8 servings)
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (6 servings)
  • Land O’Lakes Egg Nog (8 servings)
  • Red Velvet cake
At our house, we always end up with way to much food, from baked ham and turkey to mashed potatoes and mac & cheese. As a way to save money, we all bring a dish or two. That way no one person is responsible for the entire cost of a meal.

Plus, we buy most of our groceries at Walmart. It not only saves us money, compared to the prices at other grocery stores nearby, but we can pick up our dinner supplies while doing our last minute shopping.

Learn More:
Be sure to check out Walmart's Holiday Meal page to find recipes and tips for the holiday season.

Win It:
Two lucky readers will receive a $30 gift card to Walmart

To enter: Tell me your best money-saving tip.

Want extra entries? (Leave separate comments for each)
  • Follow me on Blogger
  • Grab my button
  • Add me to your blog roll
  • Follow me on Twitter (Leave your username)
  • Tweet this giveaway (Leave link)
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link to this post. (Leave your link)
Be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Giveaway ends 12/31 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email.
Open to US only.

I wrote this while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Walmart. In addition, I received a Walmart gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate and two to offer as a giveaway.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's Important

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt
Less than a week until Christmas, I'm finding presents have yet to be shipped, cookies aren't baked, boxes haven't been wrapped. I'm feeling stressed and behind.

Little Man is sick with some stomach bug that hit over half his school. As I comfort him, offering snuggles and popsicles, I find myself feeling sick. And I know that I don't have time to be sick right now.

Yet somehow, I'm forgetting about what has to get done, what's filling up my to do list. I'm watching Air Buddies, taking afternoon naps with a little rugrat digging his cold toes into my side. I'm playing CandyLand and Go Fish until my fingers hurt. I'm reading Dinosaur Explorer and A Snowy Day over and over.

And tomorrow when the snow hits, I'm sure we'll pick up another book, make more popcorn, snuggle up to Saturday morning cartoons. I'll forget for a minute that Christmas is coming and I have responsibilities to tend to. And I'll just enjoy the moment. I guess someone so little really can teach me what life's all about.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Sound of Music Review & Giveaway

***Closed: Congrats to darlanpaulsmamma***

Growing up, I loved watching movies with my mom. It was always fun to make popcorn and sit on the couch with a classic. One of her favorites (and mine) was The Sound of Music.

I was surprised to learn that The Sound of Music first opened on Broadway 50 years ago, quickly becoming one of the most popular musicals of all time. In celebration of the 50th Anniversary, Sony Music has released the 50th Anniversary Special Edition of the Original Cast Recording: The Sound Of Music along with Simon & Schuster’s book, The Sound of Music: A Classic Collectible Pop-Up.
With songs including My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, and The Sound of Music, the CD will easily become a favorite. The music is wonderful and the songs as captivating as I remembered.

The accompanying pop up book is absolutely amazing. The illustration are beautifully depicted and the pop-ups well-made and sturdy, as well as incredibly detailed. My son loved going the book, looking at each page and making up a story of his own. Though he also enjoyed hearing the real story as I read it to him.
Buy It:
The 50th Anniversary Special Edition of the Original Cast Recording: The Sound Of Music is available for $11.98 at Amazon

The Sound of Music: A Classic Collectible Pop-Up is available for about $17 at Amazon

The Sing-Along Guide is available for free at Simon and Schuster

Win It:
One lucky reader will win a copy of the 50th Anniversary Special Edition of the Original Cast Recording: The Sound Of Music

To enter: Tell me your favorite song from The Sound of Music.

Want extra entries? (Leave separate comments for each)
  • Follow me on Blogger
  • Grab my button
  • Add me to your blog roll
  • Follow me on Twitter (Leave your username)
  • Tweet this giveaway (Leave link)
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link to this post. (Leave your link)
  • Unlimited entries: Tell me some of your favorite things. (1 entry for each)
Be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Giveaway ends 12/23 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email.
Open to US only.

Thanks to Sony Music for providing the product for our review and giveaway.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: There Are No Words

In Memory of Bryson Ross

Visit MomDot or A Cowboy's Wife for more photos in honor of Bryson

Munchkin Math Review & Contest

Little Man is constantly asking if it's time to eat lunch, time to watch cartoons, or time to go to grandma's house. It's much easier giving him a specific time that we'll be doing something, rather than hearing him ask, is it time now? or now? how about now?

So, I've explained to him how to read a digital clock, as we have one in the bedrooms and one in the kitchen. We've also discussed how to read a traditional clock, but he has struggled with telling time on one.

We were recently introduced to Munchkin Math. Offering DVDs for kids 2-9, Munchkin Math is designed to make learning fun. The three available DVDs include Shapes, Telling Time, and Counting Money. The DVDs are interactive experiences that include a variety of learning skills.
Our Thoughts
Little Man and I were able to watch Telling Time, featuring Wendy, Stan, and Cuckoo. He loved Cuckoo, who was learning to tell time on a clock.

The DVD contains many interactive moments and incorporates rhymes and fun motions to help kids remember the rules of telling time. I caught Little Man doing the actions along with the kids on TV and repeating what they were saying.

Telling Time is a fun way to help kids learn to tell time. By the end of the DVD, my 5 year old was saying the time on the clock before they said it on screen. Hopefully the things he learned will stick with him!

Buy It:
You can order Munchkin Math DVDs for $19.99

Tweet using the hashtag #Munchkin Math to be entered to win one of three Munchkin Math DVD sets, which include all three Munchkin Math titles.

For example, you could tweet:
Give your child a head start in math with Munchkin Math DVDs. RT to enter to win 1 of 3 prize packs! #MunchkinMath
Giveaway: Kids get a head start in math with Munchkin Math's Shapes, Telling Time, and Counting Money DVDs. RT to enter! #MunchkinMath

Contest runs until 12/16. Winners will be contacted by Mom Central and/or Munchkin Math. Do not leave entries here. They won't count!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Munchkin Math and received a sample DVD to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Take a Minute...

I spent last night snuggling close to my 5 year old. Thanking God that I had him there to hold.

Was it really just yesterday morning that I was annoyed that he was running late for school? Yelling at him to eat faster?

Why is it that it takes a tragedy to remind us of how much we have?

Last night we heard news of Shellie's loss. Her two year old tragically passed away yesterday afternoon. Just typing those words makes my heart ache. I can't imagine why God would take such a little soul...

It's been amazing to see both the Twitter community and the MomDot family surrounding her with love. Coming together in the light of this horrible event to do what they can.Take a moment today and say a prayer for Shellie and her family. Even if you're not the praying kind. Take just a minute and send good thoughts her way. Give your kids a hug. Tell them how much you love them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dreaming of...

I hate dreaming at night.

I know that sounds awful, but I never have the happy, sunshine and puppy dog dreams. At least if I do, I never remember them. Instead, I have the awful, nightmare-but-seems-so-real kind of dreams.

Night after night this week, I've woken up in a sweat, terrified that something is wrong. Each night, I have these dreams that feel so real. Even once I'm awake, I can't shake the feeling that all is not well. I force myself out of bed, check on everyone, and try to go back to sleep. But I find myself falling right back into the nightmare again.

I wish I could just get one good night of rest. I wish I could sleep without dreaming. And I wish I could shake this feeling that something's wrong.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

eShakti Discount Code

Earlier this week, I introduced you to eShakti, an amazing online retailer selling custom sized clothes for women. I'm so in love with my top, that I've added several of their items to my wish list this year.

I would love the Tulle Rose Cutwork Top or the Faux-wrap embroidered maxi dress:

Lucky for you, they have offered a discount. Get $20 off your first purchase by entering the code: SQAWER2

During checkout, on the Billing Address page, enter this code where it says "Enter Gift Certificate Code."

Valid until 12/25/2009.

Happy shopping!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Which List?

Yesterday, Little Man asked, Momma, am I on the naughty or nice list?

I asked what he thought.

Well, I only did two naughty things this whole year.

So of course I asked what they were.

I didn't eat my dinner on Thanksgiving. And...oh, I forget...

Hey, that means I only did one naughty thing!

I guess that puts him on the nice list, right? He was so excited that he "only did one naughty thing." That kid cracks me up.

Skin MD Giveaway

**Closed: Congrats to Cindi @ Moomette's Magnificents***

Winter time makes me miserable sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays, I love playing in the snow with my son, I love the spirit of the season. I just hate the dry skin that goes along with it.

Yesterday, hubby even noted how rough my skin was when he held my hand. I think he's exact words were, "what's wrong with your skin?!" Um, thanks, hubby.

I've raved in the past about the shielding lotion from Skin MD Natural. If you're looking for a lotion that will leave your hands soft and smooth, without feeling slimy, look no further than Skin MD Natural. Seriously. Their products are the only thing that got my poor hands through last winter.
The shielding lotion acts differently than other lotions, as it works with your skin to naturally moisturize dry, cracked skin. Other lotions just add moisture to the surface. Skin MD Natural restores skin’s natural protective abilities by adhering to the outer layer of skin. It strengthens the skin's natural barrier against toxins and irritants that can dry the skin and locks in the natural oils.

Buy It:
Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion can be purchased at their website for $18

Win It:
One lucky reader will win a bottle of Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion

To enter: Visit Skin MD and tell me something you learned.

Want extra entries? (Leave separate comments for each)
  • Follow me on Blogger
  • Grab my button
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  • Tweet this giveaway (Leave link)
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link to this post. (Leave your link)
Be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Giveaway ends 12/19 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email.
Open to US only.

Thanks to Skin MD for providing the product for our review and giveaway.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tyson Any'tizers Review & Giveaway

**Closed: Congrats to Bebemiqui & Ashley Elaine***

When Little Man gets home from school, he is always starving. I have to have a snack ready for him shortly after he arrives home, or he turns into the biggest grump ever. So I'm always on the look out for snacks that are quick and easy to prepare, but also taste good.

I love the Homestyle Chicken Fries from Tyson Any'tizers. I actually had them for lunch yesterday since I was only cooking for myself and was in a hurry. They are ready in under 20 minutes, filling, and delicious.

I was excited to learned that Tyson has recently added a few new products to their Any'tizer line. The new Sauce and Stir varieties include:
  • Chicken Breast Chunks with General Tso Sauce
  • Chicken Breast Chunks with Spicy Sweet & Sour Sauce
  • Crispy Breaded Wings with Citrus Fire Sauce
  • Crispy Breaded Wings with General Tso Sauce
From Tyson:
Our new Any'tizers varieties with Sauce and Stir sauce packets are hearty and packed with tasty flavor in every bite to offer families a great selection of customizable, easy-to-prepare snack options. Whether it's feeding the hungry after-school crowd, game-day sports fans or even holiday guests, adults and kids can enjoy the new Any'tizers varieties anytime they're in need of a satisfying snack.

Our family really enjoyed the Chicken Breast Chunks with Spicy Sweet & Sour Sauce. I'm very picky when it comes to chicken, but Tyson Any'tizers definitely meet my standards. The sauce has delicious flavor, and I love being able to regulate just how much I add. Alone, Any'tizers make a great snack, and paired with a salad and rice, they make a perfect, quick-prep dinner.

Buy It:
Find new Any'tizers in the freezer section at your local grocery store

Win It:
Two lucky readers will receive coupons to try Any'tizers for themselves.

To enter: Visit Tyson and tell me which Any'tizers you love or would love to try.

Want extra entries? (Leave separate comments for each)
  • Follow me on Blogger
  • Grab my button
  • Add me to your blog roll
  • Follow me on Twitter (Leave your username)
  • Tweet this giveaway (Leave link)
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link to this post. (Leave your link)
Be sure to leave a way to contact you.
Giveaway ends 12/18 at 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be notified via email.
Open to US only.

Thanks to Tyson for providing the product for our review and giveaway.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Green Works Review

Laundry is never-ending in our house (as I'm sure it is in every other household too.) We've tried several detergents to find one that both works well and smells good. It's not an easy task with three picky noses in the house. Hubby doesn't want a "girly" scent, Little Man doesn't want it to "stink," and I just want it to smell fresh.

We were recently introduced to Green Works Natural Laundry Detergent and Stain Remover. Green Works, from Clorox, not only works well and smells good, it is also made with plant-based ingredients. Green Works has been dermatologist-tested and is gentle on the skin, while still fighting stains.
My Little Man has sensitive skin, but after using the Green Works products, we have yet to have any problems. He loves how his blankets smell as they come out of the dryer. Even hubby commented how good the detergent smelled the first time I used it. I'm enjoying the fresh scent and a confidence that I'm washing our clothes without any harsh chemicals.

Buy It:
Green Works products are available at most major retailers and grocery stores.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Clorox Green Works and received a bottle of Green Works Natural Detergent and Stain Remover to facilitate my review and a $20thank-you gift certificate.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

eShakti Review

I know I've mentioned it before, but here it goes again...I hate shopping! More than that, I hate trying on clothes. I hate it with such a passion that I rarely try clothes on in the store. I buy them, and find out too late that they don't fit properly or don't flatter my body.

eShakti is an online clothes retailer offering custom fit apparel. There mission is to make every customer look her absolute best by providing amazing drape and always carrying any size she wants, and by letting her change the style too to suit herself.

I can easily say, I've never seen another store or website where you can enter your measurements instead of simply choosing a size (or at least I've never seen any that offer custom sizes at a reasonable price). Not only are the clothes sized to fit your body, you can also change the sleeves, length, or neckline to a look that most flatters you.

However, if you prefer, eShakti does offer it's clothing in a full range of sizes from 0 to 26W. They carry a huge array of blouses, jackets, dresses, skirts, pants, and accessories.

I received a kimono style top in barn red from eShakti. The ordering process was simple. All I had to do was enter my measurements and preferences on sleeve, length, and neckline. The hardest part of the process? Picking out which shirt to order!

Within a week (a holiday week, at that), my custom fit blouse had arrived. I was shocked to see how fast eShakti is able to complete order requests.The top fits perfectly. It follows my body line and is incredibly comfortable. The color is bright but not overpowering, the material is high quality 100% cotton, and I love the look of the pattern. The shirt is very versatile too. It can be worn day-to-day with a pair of jeans or I can dress it up with some nice black pants.Buy It:
Tops at eSkakti start at about $34.95. Become a fan on Facebook to stay up to date on sales and promotions or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks to eShakti for providing the product for review.

Project of the Month Club: Gift Idea

Little Man loves crafts. He constantly asks me to "think of an idea, think of an idea!" However, I often find myself with idea and no supplies, or the supplies and a complete lack of ideas.

I was recently introduced to the Project of the Month Club, which seems to be the perfect solution to my dilemma. They offer a variety of creative gifts for kids ages 4 to 11 and deliver them to your doorstep as often as you like. From woodworking kits to art and crafts or science projects, the Project of the Month Club offers something for every creative kid.
The Project of the Month Club offers projects in the following categories:
Mix & Match: A variety of projects, allowing kids to explore different interests
Master Builders: Projects to be hammered, nailed, screwed, glued and painted
Future Designers: Projects that take a bit of patience and concentration
Aspiring Artist: Projects that are all about art and creativity
Seismic Scientist: Projects all about mixing, measuring, making slime and experimenting

We received the Step Stool kit and the Tissue Box Cover project. Both included everything needed to create the final product, plus illustrated instruction sheets. Because Little Man is on the younger side, these are crafts that we were able create together. We built the step stool together, and he was so excited with the finished project. He had to tell everyone about it.

Project of the Month Club would make a perfect gift for those hard to buy for kids. And who doesn't love to get a present throughout the whole year?

Buy It:
Project of the Month Club has generously offered readers a 10% discount. Simply click over from the links in the post and the code overthewall will be used on your order. But hurry, Christmas orders must be received by December 17th!

Thanks to Project of the Month Club for providing the kits for our review.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holey Donuts Review

Do you have a donut-lover in your house?

I have two, one big and one little. And unfortunately, anytime hubby gets groceries he comes home with several huge donuts. I always worry about just how much fat and how many calories both the boys are consuming as they down them.

We recently were introduced to Holey Donuts. Their donuts, donut holes, and cinnamon buns contain a fraction of the calories and fat compared to others. Holey Donut products are handmade and delivered to your door frozen. They can be defrosted and served right away or kept frozen for a special occasion.

The newest product, Low Fat Cinnamon Bun Middles, each contain only 80-100 calories and have just over 1 gram of total fat, with zero trans fats and zero saturated fat. Plus, they contain less than 20 grams of total carbohydrates. There are no artificial sweeteners used and 2 grams of dietary fiber. Because each one is handmade with the same care that would go into a fine pastry, they do vary slightly.There is a huge assortment of flavors: from Blueberry Vanilla Cinnamon Buns to Caramel Apple and Strawberry Shortcake donuts. Plus flavors like Raspberry Fudge, Vanilla Coconut, and Chocolate Crumb. They all sound heavenly.

The idea of low-fat donuts scare you? Don't let it! Their products are delicious! We were able to taste test several of the cinnamon buns, and no one was able to tell that they were low-fat. My little one devoured his first and begged for more (and then requested another for breakfast and dessert the following night.)

(And yes, we have dessert in the living room...on the couch.)

I'm not a donut person. I rarely eat them at all because I hate the heavy feeling they leave me with. So I was the biggest skeptic. And even I found them mouth-watering. They are moist and flavorful without leaving me feeling guilty for enjoying one. I felt full afterward, but not heavy.

Holey Donuts may just have a made a donut-lover out of me too. I know that I can't wait until tomorrow morning when I promised Little Man we could have cinnamon buns for breakfast.

Buy It
Holey Donuts can be ordered from their website, with prices ranging from $11.95 to $16.95, plus shipping charges, which vary by area as the donuts must be shipped express. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter to receive special discounts and offers.

Thanks to Holey Donuts for providing samples for our review. All opinions are our own.

Rotozini Smart Taste Review

As moms, we are constantly aware of what our kids are eating. If your little ones are anything like mine, you may notice that what they want isn't always the same as what they should have. That's one of the reasons I'm always trying to find ways to make my son's favorite foods healthier.

We recently had the chance to taste test Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta. Ronzoni Smart Taste has added calcium and fiber without changing the taste. The pasta has 3 times the fiber of other pastas and the same amount of calcium as an 8 ounce glass of milk. And it comes in elbows, rotini, spaghetti, thin spaghetti, and penne rigati. We tried out the pasta with our regular spaghetti recipe and found it was delicious. Hubby noted that it seemed "fluffier" than the spaghetti we usually use, but I think it's because we typically use whole wheat compared to white. All in all, Ronzoni Smart Taste is a great addition to our weekly menu.

Are you Supermom when it comes to trying to get your kids to eat healthy? Check out the silly, spoof video from Ronzoni Smart Taste on YouTube as one mom does everything in her power to get her kids to eat a healthy dinner. (A dinner that even I wouldn't touch.)

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Ronzoni Pasta and received a sample of Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta to facilitate my review and a $20 thank-you gift certificate.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: A Good Picker


He's ready to go pick out this year's tree on Saturday!

Cuisinart Rice Plus Multi-Cooker Review: Gift Idea

In our house, hubby is the cook. If he's at home, he's in charge of dinner, and on the nights I fend for myself, I eat plenty of eggs and leftovers. (Though my 5-year-old will attest, I make a mean grilled cheese.)

We recently had the chance to try the Cuisinart Rice Plus Multi-Cooker with Fuzzy Logic Technology. Now, if you're me, the first question is, what's "fuzzy logic technology?" According to Cuisinart, it's a built in "brain" that senses changes in cooking and automatically changes the machine's operation to ensure perfect results.

Tonight, hubby relinquished the apron to me. Me, all alone. I was armed with the new appliance, the instruction manual, and the occasional mini-me helper.

I decided to make something simple to start: white rice with steamed veggies and chicken. And it turned out well. The rice was fluffy and perfectly cooked. The veggies were dropped in during the last 10 minutes of cooking and steamed in the steaming insert included with the cooker. And because of the "keep warm" feature, which automatically kicks on after cooking, it was okay that the chicken wasn't ready when the rice was.What I Love
The Rice Plus Multi-Cooker takes up very little counter space, but can cook up to 15 cups of rice. Plus, it was very easy to set up, just wash and start cooking. Once turned on, it is so easy to choose a cooking mode. Simply scroll through the on-screen choices.
The Rice Plus Multi-Cooker also offers a ton of cooking options. Hence, the "Plus." It makes various types of rice, risotto, oatmeal, soups, and sushi rice. It can slow cook, steam, and reheat.

Mom Improvements
Although very simple to use, trying to follow the directions seemed confusing at first. Maybe it's because there is such a vast number of ways to cook, or maybe it's because I rarely read directions anymore. (Who has time?) I would love to see a quick start guide, or to have the different cooking mode directions organized differently. As a novice in the kitchen, seeing so many instructions on only 2 pages felt a little overwhelming.

Our Thoughts
First of all, dinner was delicious! Everyone devoured the meal, and we still have plenty of leftovers to reheat in the cooker tomorrow.

Secondly, I really appreciate the versatility of the Rice Plus Multi-Cooker. You can even brown meat in it using the Quick Cook option or use the Finish Time feature to program in a time you'd like to eat and walk away.
Coming Soon
Up next, hubby's going to try out a recipe from Chef Hubert Keller, hosts of the PBS cooking series, Secrets of a Chef, and owner of Fleur de Lys, Burger Bar and SLeeK Steakhouse.

Brazilian Chicken and Shrimp Soup
Serves 8
5 chicken thighs, skinned
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 small)
1 cup diced green bell pepper(about 1 medium)
1 can (14.5 ounces)diced tomatoes
1/3 cup finely chopped toasted peanuts
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups coconut milk
8 ounces raw shrimp (medium size), peeled and de-veined
10 ounces frozen peas
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice for serving

1. Prepare rice using the long-grain directions on the cooking chart for Cuisinart’s Rice Plus™ Multi-Cooker. Rice can also be prepared the day before.
2. Place the chicken in a medium mixing bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the lime juice and rub chicken with minced garlic. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. In the cooking pot of the Cuisinart Rice Plus™ Multi-Cooker, add the olive oil. Set to Quick Cook and press start. Once the olive oil is hot, after about 3 minutes, add the onions and peppers and sauté for about 4 minutes until soft and fragrant.
4. Stir in the canned tomatoes including juice, peanuts, jalapeno, bay leaves, salt, pepper, broth, and coconut milk. Note: be sure to stir the coconut milk prior to pouring from can). Add the chicken and marinade and stir until well combined. Turn the unit off. Close the lid and select the Soup function and set the timer for 5 hours. 5. 15 minutes before the timer is done, rinse the shrimp well and pat dry. Place in a mixing bowl with the remaining lime juice and a pinch each of the salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 5 to 8 minutes; no longer or the acid of the juice will begin to cook the shrimp.
6. Once there are 5 minutes remaining on the timer, open the lid and add the frozen peas and the shrimp, with the juices, and close again to finish cooking.
7. Once the timer tone sounds, open the lid. Discard the bay leaves. Take out the whole chicken pieces and place on a cutting board. Remove the meat from the bone, cut into bite size pieces, and return to the pot. Stir in the cilantro to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
8. To serve, place some warm cooked rice (approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on portion size in the bottom of each soup bowl and ladle the soup on top. If desired, sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and/or chopped peanuts.

Buy It
The Rice Plus Multi-Cooker can be purchased at Cuisinart for $149.

A Cuisinart Rice Plus Multi-Cooker was provided free for our review. But all opinions are our own.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What Goes Up...

Playing out on the swingset at my parents this weekend, my two-year old nephew coerced me into taking him up the slide. A sweet little smile and puppy dog eyes do wonders for that kid.
He had slipped the first time he went up, so the next, he came to me saying "up, up!" We start up the ladder when my (almost) sister-in-law comments that she broke one of the steps last weekend.

No more do the words leave her mouth that the stair we're on breaks, and we go tumbling down. Thankfully, I pulled him away from the ladder and was able to keep him from being hurt at all. I, on the other hand, hit every possible place on the way down. I probably looked a little like a chip sliding down a Plinko board.

A few bumps, bruises, and cuts later, I've vowed to leave the slide to the kids (once it's fixed again). I guess that's what I get for trying to act like I'm 5! Next weekend, I'll stick to the swing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hickory Farms: Gift Idea

On the rare occasion I hit the mall at the holidays, I always wonder through the Hickory Farm kiosk. I love seeing all the gift basket ideas, and I love seeing how well they're presented.

Hickory Farms' gifts have been on the forefront of holiday baskets for nearly 60 years. They offer a huge selection of their famous sausages and cheeses in environmentally friendly boxes. They also offer baskets, boxes, and tins full of fruit, nuts, cookies, as well as many other yummy treats.

Tin and gift boxes start at $15. With prices ranging up to $125, there's something for every budget.

And luckily, for us mall-haters, Hickory Farms offers all of their gifts on-line. You can have a gift basket delivered right to your front steps. No crowds, no lines. We received Our Storybook Christmas Gift Box in perfect condition. Not a cookie was broken. The plate was wrapped with care and all the goodies stayed right in their place.For a limited time this holiday season, for each Party Planner Gift Box sold, Hickory Farms will donate $5 to Share Our Strength, a leading national non-profit organization working to end childhood hunger in America. Plus, for every 40 of these gift items sold, Hickory Farms provides free military shipping, allowing our troops across the globe to share in holiday traditions.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Hickory Farms and received a Hickory Farms gift basket to facilitate my review.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Dip: Easiest Ever

My 5 year old requests pumpkin dip at least once a month. The kid is definitely hooked, but the recipe is so easy that I always give in.


1-16 oz. container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1-5 oz. pack instant vanilla pudding mix
1-15 oz can solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Stir together all but the Cool Whip until well mixed.
Fold in Cool Whip.
Keep refrigerated until ready to eat.
Serve with ginger snaps or animal crackers & enjoy!

Thanksgiving Crafts: A Thanks Basket

Little Man really wanted to create a craft yesterday for Thanksgiving, and of course, I had nothing planned. Though he wanted a cornucopia, he finally agreed to a "thanks basket."

Clean Cool Whip container
Foam craft sheets
Construction paper
Googly eyes
Pipe Cleaners
To create basket:
Tape foam sheets around container (I used Duct tape to hold in place).
Punch 2 small holes on either side of container top and thread the pipe cleaners through to make handle.
Decorate with stickers.

To create turkey:
Cut out 2 large circles to form body and a small one for the head.
Cut several feathers and fan in between body pieces. Tape or glue in place.
Form legs from pipe cleaners and tape in between body pieces.
Punch hole in one feather and attach turkey to handle with pipe cleaner.

Fill bucket:
Cut strips of paper and put inside bucket.
At Thanksgiving, pass them out and have everyone write what they're thankful for.