Sunday, November 27, 2011

Torani Syrup adding flavor to your holiday #dessert #SSTorani @SheSpeaksUp

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family on Saturday at our house. I decided since we were going to get the nice dishes out, I would serve dessert in style and thanks to Torani syrup and some other pantry basics we had a wonderful Hazelnut Parfaits topped with turtles. 

 The Recipe:
Chocolate pudding (I used a large box)
1 1/2  cups half and half
1 pint Heavy Whipping cream
1/4 cup Torani Hazelnut syrup
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
Pretzel Turtles   The recipes all called for square pretzels but I used traditional knot style and it was fine.
In a bowl mix the pudding and half and half.  Mix on medium to make sure all the pudding mixes with the half and half. (about 2 minutes). Finish off the pudding with about 1 minute on a higher speed to add  a fluffier texture.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of pudding into parfait glasses (we used some old crystal we have that reminds us of s fruit cup on a stem.)

In the same bowl (washed out) mix on high speed the heavy whipping cream until peaks form, fold in the Torani Hazelnut syrup and the chopped hazelnuts. top each pudding cup with generous scoop of whipped cream

Top with a Pretzel Turtle , chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes, serve, and enjoy.

SheSpeaksbuttonThank you to SheSpeaks and Torani Syrup for 2 bottles and coupons to try other flavors in exchange for this blog post and recipe.  The recipe is my original creation. 

For other recipe ideas be sure to follow Torani Syrup on Twitter or Facebook

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Motorola Photon, a Sprint phone for me??? #Cbias #MotoCalyp

Kiddo and I ventured to the local Sprint store to check out the newest phones on the market, especially the new Motorola Photon and similar devices.

Dakota,  a friendly young man  who was prompt and knowledgeable greeted us. When I explained I was on a research mission and wasn't looking to purchase today, he was more than willing to answer questions and turn off the sales pitch.

He turned on the display model of the Motorola Photon and mentioned the screen response and resolution as selling points. I was actually impressed with the screen resolution.

He also mentioned the on board memory at 16 gigs, that is a crazy amount of on board memory or at least that is what I thought at first, then I thought about it for a while; with an 8 mega pixel camera and the Android OS a person that was a serious phone user could actually use that kind of space fairly easily, but don't worry the expandable memory allows for an additional 16 gigs of space for a total of 32 gigabytes of memory.

Another feature that caught my attention is the 720p resolution HD video camera as well as the front facing video feature for video chatting.

A full range multimedia phone with 4G capabilities this phone is definitely set up for a trend setter.

The phone is available in stores and online through various retailers with a Sprint contract.  Sprint has an unlimited plan that with the Data premium will run about $110 a month plus taxes with a contract.

I wanted to compare the phone to something else to get a better idea if the phone was really all that. I had Dakota show me another Motorola phone, the Admiral.A couple things stood out, the resolution of the screen was not as good, it does have a full QWERTY keyboard rather than touch screen, a 5 Megapixel camera rather than 8 Megapixels, 4Gigabyte on board memory, etc.. The list goes one.

I checked local stores to see who else had the phone and was able to find the same phone for a similar price at Radio Shack.  If you are interested in this phone, I would recommend checking the local Sprint store, Radio Shack,  possibly Walmart or Target.

On a personal note, while I love the features of this phone, I am currently on a non contract program and absolutely love it, however I would be tempted to switch for this phone if the monthly price wasn't more than double what I currently pay for unlimited service.

Motorola PHOTON 4G an 8 MP camera and 16 Gigs on board memory, @Sprint has it! #Calyp 

Check out our full photo story on Google+

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #cbias, all opinions are my own, online research was done on various tech sights as well as online retailers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't fall in to the winter blues #VitaminD can help you too #cbias

Fall is here and with it comes windy, rainy, gray skies. Some days I feel just like that tree in the center of the picture, like I'm being blown over by the clouds.  One thing that has helped battle the fall/ winter dull drums is vitamin D. In Oregon we spend most of the fall and winter surrounded by gloomy weather so we don't get our daily dose of vitamin D from the sun.  Although the sun provides the majority of our vitamin during the fall and winter it is almost impossible to get the daily dose so a supplement is a way to go.

Thankfully I can get a good source of vitamin D in Nature Made Liquid Softgels.  For most adults a daily recommended dose of Vitamin D is 1000 i.u. but for those that have issues with seasonal gray days (that is what I call it) 2000 i.u is a good recommendation.  This has become my daily dose especially since I am on the heavier side and my body has trouble absorbing the vitamin D I get from the sun.  I also don't drink a lot of milk so I don't get it that way either.  Over the years I have read several articles that hint to Vitamin D helping with cardio vascular health as well so adding vitamin D to my regiment is a major priority for me.

For convenience I tend to shop at Walmart here in McMinnville. and was very happy to find the Nature Made Liquid Softgels Vitamin D 2000 i.u. bottles on the shelf and reasonably prices.  I got a bottle with 250 liquid softgels for $12.88  which ends up being  about $.08 per pill.

top pill = Costco brand bottom = NatureMade
  I did a side by side comparison on the ones my husband gets from Costco and found you can't tell the difference. Since Costco isn't as convenient for me and I can't seem to get out of Costco for less than $250 the price comparison doesn't seem that important.

Check out this informational video about Vitamin D Deficiency and let me know what you think.  I want people to learn all they can so they can be more involved in their own health.

Feel free to check out the rest of our journey to health with the photo story over on our Google + page
Nature Made Vitamin D Shop

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All experiences and opinions belong to the author.

The author of this article is not a medical professional and is only sharing experiences , you should seek the advice of your own medical professional before changing or adding supplements to your regiment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Suburbs

Thanks for the guest post by Jonathan Curtis
One of the reasons I finally agreed to move to the suburbs is the safety aspect. When we lived further into town, I was always a little concerned for my safety. While my city isn’t one of the worst as far as crime rate is concerned, it definitely has its share of petty crime. Now that we’re in the suburbs, I mostly rest easy. However, the suburbs are not immune from crime of any sort. This is why we have www.homeSECURITYfamily.COM. We know that our home is being watched all the time and that if there does happen to be a burglary, we’ll be notified. The knowledge that there will be a physical alarm if a door or window is open allows me to relax while I’m at home, and knowing that there is a break-in while we’re away we’ll be notified ensures I can breathe a sigh of relief while traveling or at work. We are definitely cutting back these days, as many people are, but we’re not going to be cutting our alarm service. It’s definitely worth the price—which, incidentally, is very affordable. It’s the equivalent of one dinner out per month!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful for you cards with Elmer's Craftbond and 3D #gluenglitter Pens #cbias

The boys and I made thankful turkeys during craft time this week for part of our homeschool craft time, so when the chance to make Thanksgiving cards came up I thought that would be another great craft for us. 
Kiddo and I headed to Walmart to pick up a few supplies including Elmer's Craftbond gluespots, Elmer's 3D Classic Glitter Colors Jumbo Pens, Elmer's Craftbond Sparkle Glue shimmers, and neutral cardstock. 

 We also shopped around for holiday decorations for an upcoming bazaar I will be working at.  We found the adhesive without a problem, but had to look a little harder for the cardstock.

 I didn't want to buy 12 x 12 as I have a ton and knew the project would be easier for all of us if I used 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock. We finally found a reasonable package in the office supply section. 
Shopping at night was a new experience for Kiddo, we usually shop at Walmart after church on Sunday or Monday mid morning. He wasn't sure about the dark and rainy parking lot, but was content once we were back in the van and ready to head home. 

Thursday morning we got up and collected all our supplies to make our Thankful for you cards.
Here is a list of the supplies we used.
8 1/2 x  11 neutral cardstock
Elmer's Craftbond gluespots
Elmer's 3D Classic Glitter Colors Jumbo Pens
Mrs. Grossman's velum stickers
Sizzix large Maple Leaf die 
Creative Memories (c) Tag punch
brown calligraphy pen

I try to keep my crafts simple now as I am usually working with my 2 boys.

We took the 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock and cut it in half (8 1/2 x 5 1/2)
Next fold the piece in half so your card is 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 with the hold along the top.

We used the Elmer's Craftbond gluespots to place the large leaf die on the card and added a vellum leaf sticker.

Using the Elmer's 3D glitter glue pens we wrote each person's name across the large leaf. 

We wrote on the tags .... "I'm thankful for you because...". The boys will write a personal note to each person later. 
 We glued the tag inside the card, where the boys will write their note to each person. 

These Thankful cards will be place cards for Thanksgiving dinner with my family hosted here at our house. Kiddo and I had a lot of fun making them and I know Cameron will have fun writing inside each card when he comes home.

For step by step instructions and to view the rest of the photos check out our google + album 

This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Elmer's #gluenglitter #collectivebias #CBias all opinions and ideas are that of the writer.

Mommy Snack Time , enjoying Peaches and Cream with Granola #delmonte #cbias

Mommy time is a rare occasion is this house.
This mommy is usually chasing boys, working on our homeschool lessons, blogging about something, cooking, food preserving or just trying to keep my head above water.  
When I do get a chance to just sit and have some quiet time alone I love to reader (something that I am preferably not reviewing).
 Last year I was blessed to win a Nook e-reader and I can be found sneaking a peek at a book while snacking or sipping on hot tea.

Following a full week that included a birthday party, a field trip to fill shoeboxes with Christmas gifts, homeschool co-op, trying to keep the house clean (we had cleaned in preparation for the birthday party), and a weekly shopping trip to Walmart to fill in the gaps until payday, this Mommy needed a little break, so I decided a quick and easy treat was in order.   

Our weekly stop at the local Walmart for basics is usually a chaotic trip, for whatever reason this week is was fairly calm and not overly crowded. That on top of the fact that they had everything I needed for the week made this a happy Mommy.  I know as the holidays get closer calm trips to Walmart will go by the wayside at least until after the New Year. 

For now, though I will continue to enjoy the staff and clean shelves that welcome us at our local Walmart. 

If you are looking for more recipes and ideas for the holiday seasons, check out DelMonte on Facebook as well as on Twitter

Here is my Peaches and cream granola recipe thanks to #DelMonte Peaches with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar for making this recipe crazy simple.

1 pre measured cup on #DelMonte Peaches with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar
1/2 cup granola (I used homemade)
1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Agave nectar to sweeten the cream

Simple enough ingredients list... 

Now the fun begins.
 Drain the peaches and place them in the bottom of a bowl or mug.
 pour the granola over the top and top with a small amount of butter. 
 Microwave for 1 minute 45 seconds. 
Let stand in microwave while you combine the whipping cream and agave (doesn't take alot to sweeten). you can either mix the cream in a mixer until peaks form or simply pour the sweetened cream over the warm peaches and granola.  Enjoy!

Couple of heathy alternatives: 
leave off the butter (it was for flavor and a little moisture.
swap out the cream for 2 % of lower milk and just pour a small amount of the warmed treat. 

***This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias, all thoughts and recipes are my own.***

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Small Business Saturday 11/26 (or Sunday I suppose)

Shop Small. Its going to be huge!  

With Black Friday starting as early as midnight Thursday Night and all the insanity of Cyber Monday, sometimes the small independent businesses get lost in the craziness. That is where American Express has stepped in to support small businesses and promoting Small Business Saturday , November 26, 2011. (and for some of my readers and friends I can see the same applying on Sunday).
 In Yamhill County where we live , there are quite a few small businesses. Here are some of my favorites:  The Merry Artist, a locally owned art supply store with the friendliest most helpful staff.
Boersma's Sewing Center, a wonderful fabric store in the heart of downtown McMinnville with a separate shop across the street for knitting and fiber arts.
Third Street Books, a great book store with a kid friendly small town feel

Putt's Market in Downtown Dayton is a classic small town grocery store.
The Blockhouse Cafe is next door to Putt's and serves amazing family friendly food and have an amazing children's area, coffee shop, and quiet area for reading while drinking a coffee. They also have wi-fi for getting a little extra work done.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kashi Granola Bars Yummy Healthy Snacks


First off I have to say  granola and dark chocolate!  Seriously though if you are looking for a healthy snack that hits that craving for chocolate Kashi TLC bars are an awesome way to do that.  We were able to share these treats with my Homeschool Mom's group as well as some other friends thanks to a wonderful program from MomsMeet.  Dark Chocolate, granola and Peanuts together are a heavenly combination. My boys would rather it be milk chocolate but aren't too picky when it comes to a treat.

If you are looking for a snack treat that isn't lacking in fiber and protein , then Kashi TLC bars are a great snack. The overall value of the bars in a nutritional look covers a wide variety of needs while satisfying the cravings for sweet treats.   I love it when I can find a treat that my oldest likes that has protein and more than 100 calories. He is a very active child and seems to have a crazy fast metabolism so I try and find protein snacks that still have some sugars and fiber in them. At 130 calories and 4 grams of protein the Kashi bars give him enough calories and just enough protein without overloading his system.  

My Homeschool Mom's group was a mix of reviews regarding the bars. A couple of the moms have nut allergy kids so that won't work for them, but a couple of the other moms have husbands that enjoy a snack bar as well as the convenience of a snack bar that they can through in their purses.  I have to agree with the convenience factor. I love to have snacks in my purse for not only the boys but also for Mommy, chasing 2 boys takes a lot of energy and having healthier snacks in my purse is so much better than stopping at a fast food restaurant.

We also received a box of Kashi Cereal Snack bars to try and while I thought they were great , my boys were not as found of them.  Again it was nice to toss a bar in my purse and have available during the day for a quick fix, another great healthy snack.

Finally in our box of Kashi Goodies was a box  of Kashi  whole wheat biscuit cinnamon harvest cereal to try. My husband and I both enjoyed it as a change from the usual sugary cereals. The flavor wasn't so over powering and made it a nice light breakfast.   currently they have a $1.00
off coupon on the website

***I received samples of Kashi products as a member of Moms Meet in exchange for sharing with my Mom's group and reviewing with an honest opinion. No other monetary compensation was received and all opinions shared are that of the author.****

Monday Menu Planner week of November 7th #whatsfordinner

I haven't done a Monday Menu planner in a while but with the holidays coming and a busy week ahead I decided I would go ahead and post  a plan for the week.

Monday: Stuffed Green Peppers and Caesar Salad
Tuesday: Chili Mac
Wedensday: Pizza (we haven't had a Papa Murphy's Pizza Night in a while)
Thursday: Chicken Alfredo with broccoli
Friday: Hoping for a date night but if not then it will be grilled chesse and tomato soup

Grocery List is pretty light as I have most everything for the main dishes in the freezer... I do want to pick up some shredded parmasean cheese and croutons for tonight and cream cheese for the Alfredo sauce.  I am so Thankful for all the work we have done over the last 2 months to fill the freezer and pantry with food stores.

What's on your menu for the week?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shopping and Cooking Frugally: Book Review

Shopping and Cooking Frugally

Kimberly Eddy has written a wonderful book,  "Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping & Cooking Frugally".
This book ROCKS!  Yes I know that sounds cliche' but this is seriously an amazing book. One of my favorite parts of the book is actually the various bold print antidotes on nearly every page.
"Joyful Momma's Guide..." is chalked full of real useful ideas and tips.  One quote that really stuck out to me.  "Bulk shopping does not necessarily mean buying huge amounts of stuff but rather it means buying things in the largest usable quantity if it offers you a savings." pg 15
Seriously that stuck with me... Just because is costs less to buy 100 lbs of sugar doesn't mean it is a usable quantity for me... Reality is if I can buy sugar on sale in 10 lb bags at a reasonable cost based on the amount we use that is a better deal then buying 100 lbs and having to store it and risk it going bad, getting bugs, etc....

I could just nod my head in agreement with so many things she writes. Seriously , just because it is on sale and I have a coupon for it doesn't mean I need it or that I will actually use it.  I had to come to that realization as I was getting more serious about my couponing and can totally agree with that idea.  If I buy something just because I have a coupon am I actually saving money, No!  

She has an entire chapter on strategy and couponing.  In another chapter she has a great idea (one I think I might actually try to do). Use Cash when shopping and put the left over into an account or set it aside as a reward. I can totally see that as a better rewards program than any store.   Couponing and deal matching can be a lot of work and what a great reward system, also would be a great way to add to an emergency fund or special event fund.

The second half of the book is stocked full of recipes and frugal cooking idea as well as very useful forms.
Another thing she mentioned that really made me think, especially as we head into the holiday food drive season.  Think about the things that will bless a family in need when you are putting donations together. Ask yourself, "would my family be blessed if we were in that situation".  As one who has been on the receiving end, I can get pretty creative but I know some people can't and when I donate foods I try to keep it real, as in red beans, pasta, canned meats,  basic soups (tomato and cream of mushroom are ones that are easy to use).  Even on a budget we can help each other out.

I can't say enough about this book to really do it justice. The book is honest and real and to me that is HUGE!
Following Kimberly on her blog for more wonderfully frugal ideas, she also have a newsletter available on her blog.  As we head into the holiday season this book would be a wonderful gift for a young couple or a family that is new to couponing and frugal living.

***I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion here on my blog. No other compensation was received.***

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sunday Supper: #GourmetCreations Chicken Sausage and Noodle Stew #cbias

First of all I will admit we had this on Friday not Sunday, but Sunday Supper this week was boring chili mac as we were crazy busy on Sunday.

 I love trying new things and have found when I get creative in the chicken we either have a total success or a complete and total fail. This was a HUGE success. All 3 of my guys loved it. 

Nathan and I went to Walmart Friday morning specifically to pick up a couple of packages of Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Sausages as part of a Collective Bias project.  I made a list this time so I wouldn't forget anything, of course I forgot something (the first item on the list) so had to pick it up later in the day.)  I knew I wanted to make some kind of stew with the sausage so figured I would at least pick up a few basics that I didn't have and a couple fun things to  bake with. So with list and coupons in hand we began our adventure through Walmart.      We started  out in the produce section and worked our way over to the meat department including deli meats. 
We found the sausages and had no problem picking the variety! Nathan picked Chicken with Apples and Gouda as he didn't want spicy and the other option for us would have been Beef and Jalapeno pepper. There was another variety but it contained pork and we don't eat pork, so I really didn't even pay attention to the added flavor of that variety.   I love the fact that the Super Walmart has such an awesome variety of deli meats and it is always organized and clean. 
The section was actually being restocked while we were there and the lady that works that area is very friendly and very helpful.  If you find the Hillshire Farm #GourmetCreations sausage in your Walmart make sure to check for the $.55 coupon on the package.  

We shop at Walmart at least once a week however trips to the Super Walmart are a special occasion as it is farther away, but always has what we are looking for. 

We had to check out the seasonal section and picked up a couple bags of M&Ms White Chocolate Candy Corns for a friend, then made our way to the soda aisle and picked up a variety of Clear American sodas including the Naturals made with stevia. Finally we ended up in the baking section where I picked up C&H Organic Agave Nectar and cupcake papers in a pretty black and white print.  

We finished our shopping and checked out with a nice stack of coupons saving us over $18 dollars on the bill.  You can check out the rest of the shopping adventure in the Photo Album. We had a lot of fun shopping and wandering around the Super Walmart 

Here is our recipe:
 Hillshire Farm #GourmetCreations Chicken Sausage Stew with Noodles

2 packages Hillshire Farms #GourmetCreations Chicken Sausage with Apple and Gouda Cheese
1 medium to large onion chopped
1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2-3 medium carrots chopped or sliced
2-3 stalks celery chopped to about 1/2 inch
Noodles (I used bow ties but you could also use egg noodles)
1 qt of stock or water
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Seasoning (optional)

In large soup pot combine onions, garlic, and olive oil on medium heat until just tender. Add carrots, celery, and 1/2 the stock. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Chop the chicken sausages into 1/2 pieces. Add to the pot along with the noodles and the remaining stock.  Cover and cook on medium until noodles are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a garlic seasoning or other soup seasoning.  

This didn't take long to make and was a hit with all 3 boys.  The apple flavor in the sausages added a sweet flavor to the dish that is something very new for us. Usually soups are savory but this was a nice change. 

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. The recipe in my own original creation and all opinions are my own.