Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Problem solved!

Remember this post from a couple weeks ago? I shared with you a new favorite movie, and in the process lamented the terrible state of my copy of Jane Austen's novels. My last reading of Persuasion was the straw that broke the camel's back and the back cover came off completely. Trying to read a book that thick without a back cover is quite difficult, so frequent visits to the world of Jane Austen were our of the question.

During the chaos that is Christmas at my parents (you really should have seen all of the gifts under the tree...needless to say we were all spoiled) I unwrapped a heavy rectangular gift. Inside was this:
A beautiful new copy of Jane Austen's Novels! This photo really doesn't do justice to the color and embossing on the cover. Thanks Mom and Dad for reading my blog and picking up on what I would really love to find under the tree!

Purchases made through links to Amazon.com will result in compensation.

The Most Important Meal of The Day

We've heard it since we were children, magazines and newspapers continue to shout it from the rooftops, but for some reason we like to ignore the old adage, and continue to skip breakfast. I may skip breakfast some mornings, but I make sure that my children get breakfast every morning. I have felt some guilt in the past that their breakfast is rarely homemade and usually consists of a bowl of cereal with milk, but not anymore!

Research has shown that those that eat ready to eat cereal for breakfast consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than those who do not.

Other benefits of choosing ready to eat cereal for breakfast include:
  • Ready-to-eat cereals, including presweetened cereals, account for only 5% of sugar in children’s diets.

  • Ready-to-eat cereal is the No. 1 source of whole grains in a child’s diet today.

  • More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights and lower Body Mass Index measures.
General Mills recently announced that they will begin to reduce the sugar per serving content of all of their cereals that are marketed to children under the age of 12 to single digit numbers! In past years General Mills has also been increasing the content of vital nutrients and decreasing the sugar content of their cereals. Actions like these help me as a mother to feel better about choosing cereal as my children's breakfast on busy school mornings.

Right now General Mills is offering a coupon for $1 off one of four of their cereals. Click here to print yours.

If you would like to read more about cereal and children's health, you can go to the General Mills website where they provide you with more data.

This post is part of a program by My Blog Spark. I received coupons, online coupon link, and information from General Mills through MyBlogSpark. Any opinions expressed are completely my own.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Yummm, Potato and Ham soup!

Do you have leftover ham sitting in your refrigerator? It tasted wonderful on Christmas day, but your family is tiring of ham sandwiches...what are you to do? The frugal mommy in you can't bring yourself to throw the ham out so you are searching for a way to use up your leftovers. So far in our home we have made: scalloped potatoes with ham, a ham and egg bake with cheese and green onions, and finally tonight I made this yummy potato and ham soup!

I had grabbed a 10 lb bag of potatoes at Wal Mart the other day (I couldn't pass it up at $.98) so I already had those on hand. I figured a ham and potato soup would be just the ticket on this chilly evening so I pulled up the Swag Bucks website (are you searching with Swag Bucks? I have been lately and have already earned three $5 Amazon.com gift certificates!) and searched for recipes. I found one that sounded both easy and tasty and decided to give it a try. The recipe is one created by Paula Deen for Smithfield ham. You can find the recipe here. I did make some adjustments to the recipe which I felt would add to the flavor. Here are the changes that I made:
-Instead of just water for cooking the potatoes I used a combination of canned chicken broth and water (2 cans broth and 1 can full of water)
-I increased the amount of ham to about 3 cups
-While the potatoes were cooking, I diced a small onion and sauteed it in about 2 Tbs of butter. I cooked until soft and slightly browned and added them with the butter and ham
-Instead of salt I used a very tasty Garlic Season-All from Cow Camp Seasoning Company.

You definitely want to give this one a try! My three year old ate two bowls full at dinner tonight! (So did my almost 10 year old, but she can eat more than any young girl I know, so that isn't saying much!) Happy Leftovers!

I received no compensation for this post. However; if you do choose to sign up and start earning at Swag Bucks, I will earn additional rewards.

Christmas Morning!

Sorry to be a bit late in posting Christmas morning photos of the kiddos! They had a wonderful morning and then were spoiled rotten by their aunt and grandparents in the late afternoon. Here are photos of each of them Christmas morning:

Number 1 showing off her Stocking!
Number 2, thrilled with his skate ramp!
Number 3 digging into the candy in his stocking
Number 4 showing off his new skate boardg
Number 5 playing with his new "Kick It" (aka soccer ball) on his new rug (Thanks to CSN stores and Chocolate Fingerprints for the rug, as I won it back in July in a blog giveaway!)
I hope that you all had wonderful Christmases as well. The best gift I received this year was the smiles on my family's faces and time together! Here's to a wonderful new year too!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Deal Alert! Little Ceasars pizza $3.99

Are you tired of spending time in the kitchen now that the holiday craziness has come to an end? Head to littleceasars.com and print your coupon for a large Hot-N-Ready pizza for only $3.99! I would call that a great after Christmas present! Coupon only good today (December 26th) and tomorrow (December 27th) so hurry on in before the deal is over!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Neighbor Gifts (Caramel Recipe)

Our first Christmas in Utah brought with it a surprise: the neighbor gift. Starting the Saturday before Christmas and for the rest of the week we received knocks on our door and on the other side of the door was the smiling face of one of our neighbors handing us a sweet, small gift. The thing about these neighbor gifts was that they were all incredibly creative! Each gift came with a note attached with a fun little poem or message, usually a play on words that tied the gift given into the Christmas season. One of my favorites of all time was a bottle of rootbeer that had been given a red puffball nose and pipe cleaner antlers with a message that read "Merry Christmas and Happy Rootbeer!"

This year in the craziness of the holidays forgot to come up with something creative, so I whipped up a couple of batches of my favorite caramels, attached a tag wishing our neighbors a sweet Christmas and went with it! Next year I am determined to come up with something clever, but for this year caramels will have to do (and honestly, these are so yummy, who would be disappointed with gooey, sweet caramel?)

Since I can't make caramels for all of you, my readers, I have decided to do the next best thing: share with you this simple, amazing caramel recipe! With only a few ingredients you too can whip up a yummy batch of caramels to share with your family and friends.


2 c brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c dark corn syrup
1 c real butter

1. Generously grease a 9X13 baking dish (I find that a spray like PAM works best)
2. Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly
3. When mixture reaches a boil, set a timer for 5 minutes.
4. Continue stirring constantly until 5 minutes are up then pour into prepared baking dish
5. Allow to cool completely. I usually place them in the fridge for about 2 hours
6. When completely cooled you can cut the caramel into pieces about the size of a KRAFT caramel and wrap in small pieces of waxed paper (I usually roll out a piece about 3 and a half inches long and tear off of the roll, then cut that into three equal pieces. This is just about the right size for wrapping your caramels, but experiment and find what works best for you)

I wish I could give proper credit for this recipe. I received it several years ago from a sweet lady I knew through church when we were living in California. She got the recipe from her mother.

May your Christmas be filled with family, friends and wonderful memories. May you feel the true spirit of this Christmas season. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ah, My Dream Vaccum!

This may seem crazy, but I have been dreaming of owning a Dyson for a long time now! I am in no way a clean freak (actually quite the opposite), but with five children vacuuming happens quite often in my house (at least once per day if not multiple times) and it is quite frustrating to deal with the low quality vacuums that I have been used to purchasing. It seems that every three years my vacuum with die on me and I have to make the agonizing choice of which vacuum to buy. I inevitably purchase a vacuum in the $125-$175 range and regret it in the end. I have purchased vacuums from several major vacuum companies, just to have the same problems: awful suction and low quality craftsmanship.

The Dyson DC25 is my dream vacuum! The suction power and ball technology seem the answer to my vacuuming problems. So Dyson, if you find my little blog here in the blogosphere and want to make a poor little housewife's year, you can send one of these my way. I would be happy to test it against the mess that four boys ages two to eight and a preteen daughter can create!

A non-compensated post. Any purchases made through links to Amazon.com will result in compensation

Monday, December 21, 2009

Exciting changes coming!

Back when I stared this blog (as some of you may recall from my earliest posts), my plans simply included highlighting giveaways found on other blogs. Quickly I realized that I truly enjoyed trying new products and sharing my reviews, as well as offering giveaways and contests. Because of this change of focus, I have decided to move my blog to a self hosted Wordpress site. I am excited about these changes and can't wait to bring you new reviews, giveaways and more original content in the coming year!

I will roll out live on the new site on January 1st and will give you links when everything is ready to go. If you are following me here on this site (a huge thanks to you!) I will be cross posting for a while to make sure you aren't missing out, and will do my best to direct traffic to the new site. All past content is also being transferred so if you have a favorite post from the past that you want to read again, you can easily find it on the new site!

I can't wait to share this new adventure with you, and thank you for reading! Look for links and more information when we go live on January 1st 2010!

Trident Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the all new Trident Layers gum! It's time to choose our winners.

Here are your random numbers:

31 5

Timestamp: 2009-12-21 15:28:06 UTC

That is

Pamela S said...
How about lemon and lime!!! Thanks so much!


J.K. said...

Pineapple and coconut

I am off to send you an email. Please respond with your name and mailing address within72 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

*when choosing winners, I remove all unqualified entries (the ones that don't follow the rules) from the list before selection.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Welcome to the Drive Across the Country for Child Passenger Safety by Global Influence. I am coming to you from the great State of Utah and I am happy to be participating in this wonderful program, hoping to spread the word about child passenger safety.

With the holiday season moving into full swing, families across the country are in the car and on the go. Whether you're driving across the country to visit family or across town to holiday shop, it is important that your child passengers are riding safely and that child safety seats are used correctly.

AAA estimated that 30 million people travelled this Thanksgiving holiday alone,and for many this is just the beginning of the holiday hustle and bustle. Now is the time to utilize the Child Car Safety tools provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council to learn more about proper car seat use and installation. You will find informative resources that include instructional videos.

Have child passenger safety questions that you need answered before you travel over the river and through the woods to Grandma?s? NHTSA is always available to answer your questions online through Facebook and Twitter.

Wishing you a Safe and Happy Holiday this year! Keep those kids safe by using your child safety seats properly (Utah law now requires that children remain in a booster seat until age 8 or reaching 80 lbs).

This post was created as part of campaign hosted by the Global Influence Panel.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A new favorite movie! (it's a Jane Austen of course!)

It's no secret that I am a Jane Austen fan. I have seen and read Pride and Prejudice hundreds of times combined. I own multiple copies of the book and a large book containing all of Jane Austen's published works (and I am in great need of a new copy since the cover recently fell off, due to over use). As such a huge Austen fan, I don't know how I have managed to go the past couple of years without seeing this BBC version of Austen's Persuasion.

As mentioned in this post, I have recently decided to give movie borrowing at the library a try. While perusing the online directory of movies available in the county library system, I found that this movie was available to borrow and swiftly placed a hold. On Monday I stopped by the library in order to return books that were due and pick up this movie. I have since watched the movie two times and I am on my third watching right now. Thanks to the library, I now have a new favorite movie, and an addition to my ever growing Amazon.com wish list.

The BBC always does and excellent job of sticking to the novel, when creating a movie based on a classic novel. I am often disappointed in a movie version of a favorite book, but when I see a BBC production I am rarely disappointed. The acting is very good, and consistent with Austen's descriptions. Sally Hawkins does a wonderful job as Anne (reminding me somewhat of Minne Driver in Return to Me in her mannerisms) and Rupert Penry-Jones is a gorgeous Captain Wentworth (seriously, he is HOT, and I really don't say that very often about actors...what is it about Austen men? One of the few other actors who I consider to be eye candy is Collin Firth of Mr. Darcy fame).

Amazon has Persuasion right now for only $11.99 or as a combo with the newer BBC version of Sense and Sensibility for just $25.49. What a bargain especially when you take advantage of free Super Saver Shipping when you order $25 or more of qualifying items.

I received no compensation for this post. The opinion expressed is completely honest and 100% my own. As an Amazon associate I will receive compensation for any purchases made through links on this page.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1-800 Flowers Toys for Tots promotion!

It's the Holiday Season and our thoughts often turn to helping others! 1-800Flowers.com has come up with a way to send a Secret Santa Message to someone you care about, and help others at the same time!
Just head to the 1-800Flowers facebook page and click on the Secret Santa tab. When you send a special Warm Fuzzy Feeling to your friend or loved one (your identity won't be reveled until December 21st!) you could be helping raise money for Toys For Tots! If 10,000 Warm Fuzzy Feelings are sent 1-800Flowers.com will donate $5,000 to Toys For Tots! As a bonus, both you and your friend will recieve a code for 15% off a purchase at 1-800 Flowers! It's a win/win situation: spreading love, saving money and helping kids!
I created this post after receiving information about this compaign as a member of the Global Influence Panel. Although I have not received any compensation I do have the chance to win a gift certificate to 1-800-Flowers.com because of my participation. I personally sent a Secret Santa Warm Fuzzy and hope that you will too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A proud mom moment (and I can't take any credit)

Moments like these make motherhood so sweet and rewarding. This cutie on the left just had his birthday this month. A card arrived for him with a ten dollar bill enclosed from Great Grandma. Did he immediately begin formulating a list of the treasures he wanted to purchase with his new found riches? No...his immediate thought was, "I can can buy presents for the boys!" This kid who doesn't get an allowance...and loves to have his own money to buy treats and things when we are at Wal Mart, didn't think about himself, but about giving to his family.

I thought when we got to the store he would pick out some matchbox cars for his brothers, maybe something little for big sister, and then move on to spending the rest on himself, but nope! I was wrong. While at Walgreens last night he saw a perfect gift for his little three year old brother. He knew that his brother would love it an insisted that this was what he wanted to buy. Last night my eight year old boy used almost all of his birthday money on Christmas gifts for his brothers and sister. And then, with a few dollars left, he placed one in our Lagoon bank ( a bank in which we place our spare change, trying to save up for Lagoon Season Passes for next summer)!

I sure love this boy!

Extending the Trident Giveaway!

Because of my crazy schedule I have not been able to properly advertise the Trident Giveaway. Because of this I have decided to extend the deadline to this Saturday the 19th at 11:59 PM MST. I will be updating the original post as well. I have had one entry, and she will be receiving a bonus entry for entering before I changed the date! Thanks for your understanding at this busy time of year and good luck to all who enter!

Hellmanns WINNER!

Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 221
Result: 91

That's jzagarjr said...

The creamy cheddar turkey BLT wrap sounds great!

Congrats! I am off to send you an email. Please respond with your name and address within 72 hours or a new winner will be chosen!

Thanks to all who entered! This has been my best giveaway to date with 221 qualified entries (I had to delete a few from the list before choosing a winner because they did not follow the rules...sorry :( )

Friday, December 11, 2009

Joshua Bell WINNER

Sorry for the delay in posting my winner (Holiday Season...crazy...need I say more?)

Random Number Generator 1 Max:22 8

That is:
ky2here said...

I would do the Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story Suite.

Congrats. I will be sending an email to you shortly. Please respond within 72 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to everyone who entered, and please check my other giveaways going on right now!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Trident Layers Gum REVIEW and GIVEAWAY

As a contributor for Pink Lemonade of Life, I was given the opportunity to review the brand new Layers gum by Trident. I have been curious about these new flavors as I have seen them recently when checking out at my local grocery store. The mix of flavors and the way they were layered together intrigued me, so when this package arrived on my doorstep I was excited to try the gum!

We tried the Green Apple/Golden Pineapple flavor first, and it was a hit with my children. The initial flavor is a little tart and a good blend between Apple and Pineapple. The initial tartness fades fairly quickly, but the gum does not become flavorless after just minutes of chewing. You are left with a good, albeit milder flavor for a while.

My personal favorite flavor was the Wild Strawberry/Tangy Citrus. This one truly surprised me with it's perfect blend of Strawberry flavors and citrus. I wasn't sure how these flavors would go together, but I love both flavors so hoped it would be good! The Strawberry is the stronger flavor and the kick of Citrus Tartness really livens up the Strawberry flavor. Just like the Apple/Pineapple variety, the original flavor fades fairly quickly, followed by a pleasant, mild flavor for at least 15 minutes (I can only chew gum this long before I am done...but at the 15 minute mark there was still flavor for me).

You can find out more about these new flavors by heading to tridentgum.com. If you want to give them a try for yourself, you can download a $.75 off coupon here.

Two readers will get a chance to try this gum for themselves! Each winner will receive one pack of each flavor. Here's how to enter:

MANDATORY ENTRY (must be done before you qualify for any additional entries):
1. What two flavors would you like to see put together in a Trident Layers Gum?

Bonus Entries:
2. Head over to Pink Lemonade of Life and comment on a non giveaway post and come back here and let me know which you read!
3. Follow me with Google Friend Connect
4. Subscribe to my feed via Reader
5. Create a unique blog post about this giveaway and link back here. Leave a link with your comment

Open to US residents only. You must leave me a way to contact you either my having your email address in the comments or setting your email as public in your google profile. Contest ends at 11:59 PM on December 19th. Winners will be notified by email and posted here. Winners must respond within 72 hours of email or a new winner will be chose.

For another chance to win and to read reviews by the rest of the wonderful Pink Lemonade contributors, head to this post at Pink Lemonade of Life.

I received samples from Trident in order to participate in this review campaign for Pink Lemonade of Life. No other compensation was received and the opinion expressed is completely my own.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Introducing one of my childhood friends to my daughter

Favorite books and movies often feel like wonderful friends. They don't judge you, they are just there when you need them. The Anne of Green Gables books and movies are these types of friends. I have many fond memories of watching the movies on PBS (impatiently waiting through the pledge drives in between portions of the movie). A childhood friend and I even liked to pretend we were Anne and Diana (we would switch who was who so that we each got a chance to end up with Gil...seriously...who didn't have a crush on Gilbert Blythe after watching these movies?)

I have owned VHS copies of the first two movies for years, but in the last year or so our last VCR died and I have not been able to meet up with my old friends Anne, Diana and Gil. As my daughter has arrived at the preteen years I have had an increasing desire to introduce her to these wonderful friends, but alas, my VHS copies were useless and I did not own a copy on DVD (anyone reading this who wants and idea for my or my daughter for Christmas..DVDs of both Anne of Green Gables and the sequel (formerly known as Anne of Avonlea) would be great gifts this year :)). After a recent family party while visiting in California, I was inspired by discussions of movie borrowing from the library. Did you realize that you can borrow movies for free from the library? Seriously why have I NOT taken advantage of this before...ok back to my story (can you tell I like to go off on tangents...you are probably getting used to that by now). Yesterday I had a book to pick up from the library, so I decided to head to the movie section and see if I could find Anne of Green Gables.

There sitting on the library shelf was my old friend Anne. Oh how I have missed that old friend. I swiftly grabbed one of the two copies available and brought it to the checkout counter (along with a copy of Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit as requested by my son who was also with me at the library).

Yesterday afternoon my daughter and I watched Anne of Green Gables. I wish I could say that I was able to sit down and watch the movie together, all the way through. But, those of you who have seen Anne will know how long it is and that a mom of five children rarely gets the opportunity to sit that long! Surprisingly enough, even a couple of the boys sat and enjoyed parts of Anne.

Do you have movies that feel like old friends that you are anxious to share with your children?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hellmans (or Best Foods) Real Holiday Helpings and $25 gift card GIVEAWAY

Holidays and entertaining are upon us once again. Deciding on foods to prepare for all of your holiday feasts can be a daunting task. Hellmann's (or for those of you like me who live West of the Rocky Mountains, Best Foods) and Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay have put together a wonderful site filled with tips and recipes to help you create a fantastic meal with simple, delicious ingredients, including Hellman's Mayonnaise. You can even watch Bobby Flay prepare several of the recipes in short video demonstrations.

The recipes I am anxious to try from Bobby and Hellmann's Real Holiday Helpings (for the Best Foods link go here)are:
Caramelized Onion Dip (Video Demonstration available for this recipe)
Caesar Salad Crostini (Video also available for this recipe)
Monterey Turkey Pizza

You can also print a coupon for $1 off two Hellman (or Best Foods) items.

While you are there, enter to win free groceries for a year and play the Real Food Match-up game for a chance to win a $50 gift card!

One lucky reader is going to win a $25 American Express gift card to help with their holiday food purchases. Thanks to Hellmann's and Mom Select I have one $25 gift card to give away. Here's how to enter:

1. Head to the Real Holiday Helpings website and find a recipe that you would love to try and come back and leave a comment telling me which one you like.

Bonus Entries:
2. Follow my blog publicly using Google Friend Connect
3. Subscribe to my feed via reader
4. Blog about this giveaway (a unique post please)and leave a comment with a link to your post

Giveaway is open to US addresses only and will close at 11:59 PM Mountain Time on December 11th. Please either have your email address set as public in your google profile or leave your email address in your comment. I need to be able to contact you if you are chosen as the winner. Winner will be contacted by email and have 72 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

I received a $25 gift card as a thank you for sharing my thoughts with you about this new website. No other compensation was received. The opinion expressed above is completely my own.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

On privacy lost.

As a mom, there are few moments in the day that are completely your own. Early on in motherhood I found that I could catch little moments of privacy in the bathroom. Yes, pitiful, I know, but those few stolen moments recharge my batteries. I usually keep a book at the ready, read a couple of pages, and then re-emerge, ready to start again.

As of late these moments of privacy have been stolen from me. The lock on the main floor bathroom has become defective. I blame it on little boys who like to jiggle the handle over and over again, trying to get in. Well, they have succeeded. I can lock the door all I want, but all they need to do is wiggle for a few seconds and they are in! Goodbye privacy...hello toddlers invading my private sanctuary. I guess it is time to get a new door handle on the bathroom...or nothing will get done around the house. I need my few minutes of privacy to keep me going through the day. Anyone know of a sale on bathroom door handles...with locks...maybe I should buy in bulk...these boys are pretty tricky!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All I Want For Christmas

All I Want for Christmas is a family favorite in our house. The movie, featuring Lauren Bacall, Thora Birch, Ethan Embry, and a cameo appearance by Leslie Nielsen (as Santa) is a great one for the whole family. Released in 1991, this Christmas tale has mostly flown under the radar. I don't know too many people who have heard of it, let alone seen the film.

All I Want for Christmas follows siblings Ethan and Hallie in their wacky attempts to reunite their parents, who divorced a year ago. Mice loose in the house, mother's boyfriend trapped in an ice cream delivery truck and taxis that never arrive are just a few of the adventures to be found. Hallie even resorts to asking the big guy in red for help getting their parents back together again. Can Santa help?

This movie is one that I must watch EVERY year, and has been since I was in high school (when my family discovered it). We owned a copy of the movie on VHS, but our VHS player recently gave up the ghost. This dilemma was solved for me when my mom (what would we do without our moms, huh?) bought me a copy on DVD from Amazon.com! I am typing this right now, as I give my new DVD a test spin! No special features really, but a GREAT family holiday movie!

I received no compensation for this post. This is 100% my own opinion. Any purchases made through links to Amazon will result in compensation.

Sound of Music Winner!

Sorry to have been missing, I went out of town last weekend and I am still trying to recover! Here are the random numbers for the Sound of Music giveaway:

True Random Number Generator Min: 1 Max: 44 Result: 16

Comment # 16 is Stacy's Lame Blog said...
1. Girls is white dresses with blue satin sashes
2. snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
3. Sleigh bells
4. silver white winter that melts into spring
5. cream color ponies

Congrats Stacy! I am emailing you :) Please respond within 72 hours or a new winner will be drawn.

Come back soon, I have more giveaways for you coming soon! And don't forget to enter my Joshua Bell CD giveaway; it closes this Sunday!