Being #CartonSmart For The Holiday Season

Cranberry

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carton Smart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

If most of you are like me, you will purchase products in advance to use to prepare your holiday dishes with. This year, I had the opportunity to try out some great products from Pacific Foods that were packaged in Tetra Pak cartons. 

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Tetra Pak cartons are unique, recyclable packages that are made from 70% paper from regrown trees, and use 1/3 of the packaging that cans do. Not only is this packaging space saving, it also is able to preserve the flavor and nutrients of the food without using preservatives. These products have so many amazing benefits to our environment and lives, but perhaps one of my favorites is that they can be reclosed and used again later! Many times I will use stock to add to something and don't need the whole container, and we all know how that goes when you pour it from a can. . . with the Tetra Pak, I can simply reclose it and use it at a later date.

The products that I had the opportunity to try are the Pacific Foods Chicken Stock, Pumpkin Puree, and Cranberry Sauce.

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Since it was just the three of us this year for Christmas dinner, I decided to open up the Cranberry Sauce and serve it alongside our meal of ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. This sauce was easy to remove from the container and I enjoyed the consistency of it over that which you get in the cans. It made me feel good that I could store this item in my cupboard until it was time to use it, and that I created much less waste in the process.

How do you plan to Become Carton Smart this Holiday Season? Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest or Tweet @CartonSmart for more infromation. 

Visit Sponsor's Site

Happy Holidays and Blog Ownership Transfer

Hi friends! I know I’ve been a little non-existent lately and there is good reason for that. In May of this year I decided that it was time for me to go back to working outside of the home. This was the best decision for our family, and it has been a true blessing.

However, it sadly leaves me with no time to talk to all of the wonderful fans of Midwestern Moms.

So I have made the decision that it is time for someone else to take over the blog. You all may know Devon because she has posted on Midwestern Moms from time to time and I am very happy to announce that she will be taking over the blog full time as of january 1, 2014.

Midwestern Moms, and Devon, will continue to bring you the same type of quality content that you are used to.

We are very excited about this change and I hope that you all will continue to show Devon the same support that you have shown me over the past 3 years.

Happy Holidays!

Cheese Dip with Sausage and Brown Rice Triscuit Crackers #BrownRiceTriscuit

Brown Rice Triscuit

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Triscuit. I received products to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

If you’ve ever stuck your nose in the cabinet and looked for a snack that gives you a little something more, then you need to try the new Brown Rice Triscuit line.

Brown Rice Triscuit

I’ve enjoyed Triscuit crackers for years. They are the perfect addition to dips, cheese balls, and even to add toppings to.

Triscuit crackers are known for being wheat crackers that are thick and flavorful. Recently, they’ve added brown rice to the wheat cracker and created a new line with real food ingredients, such as red beans and sweet potato. I had the opportunity to try these and they are delicious.

Out of the three, it’s honestly hard to choose a favorite. I am a huge fan of sea salt and black pepper anything, so naturally I loved those, but I think that the roasted sweet onion baked with sweet potato went best with the dip that I made that day. The flavors of these crackers explode in your mouth.

One thing I love about Triscuit crackers, and always have, is that I don’t feel like I have to continue eating forever in order to get full. They are a very wholesome snack and just a handful is honestly enough, which is perfect for me since I’m trying to lose a few pounds anyway.

These crackers have no high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, cholesterol, or artificial flavors. Because they do still contain wheat, they do not fit with a gluten-free diet.

Triscuit has teamed up with Rocco DiSpirito to create some delicious topper ideas for these crackers. Please visit the Pinterest Board to see them all and get some ideas for topping your Triscuits.

I created my own recipe to enjoy these crackers with, it’s a cheese dip made with Sausage and Diced Tomatoes that my family has grown to love.

Sausage Cheese Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Melting Cheese (You can use cheddar, or whatever you prefer based upon your tastes)
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can Green Chilies
  • 1 lb Lean Sausage
  • 1 packet Italian Seasoning

Directions:

1.  Brown sausage and drain grease.

2. Put all ingredients above into a medium sized saucepan and heat on a medium stove setting until the cheese is melted. Continue stirring frequently so the cheese does not burn on the bottom of the pan.

3.  Remove from heat and serve immediately. Warning, the cheese will be very hot.

I found that the Roasted Sweet Onion Brown Rice baked with Sweet Potato went best with this particular recipe. For more information about these crackers, please join Tricuit on their social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and You Tube.

Have you tasted these new crackers yet? What did you think?

 

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe – Libby’s #DinnerDilemma

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Disclosure: This post is sponsored on behalf of Libby’s. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and that of my own.

LibbysLogo

Convenience is key when it comes to creating delicious meals in our home. Libby’s makes that possible by offering so many options of canned vegetables and fruits. When I’m running low on time and need to add a vegetable to the nightly meal, grabbing a can of Libby’s from the pantry is an easy way to ensure that my family gets their veggies for the day.

Our biggest dinner dilemma is time. My husband and I both work full time, and time is of the essence when it comes to dinner preparation. Please enjoy the infographic below that will show you how you can start out your dinner with a can.

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Twitter Week:

The week of September 16 – 20, 2013, follow the discussion on Twitter at 3pm EST (2:30pm EST on the 18th only) using the hashtag #DinnerDilemma. Follow @LibbysTable and join in the conversation to talk about all things food! You could also win a themed prize pack.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe

To start your meal, I hope you enjoy this black bean and corn salsa recipe that we whipped up using  some of the Libby’s products!

LibbysIngredtients

 

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

4.0 from 6 reviews

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz. can of Libby’s Organic Black Beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of Libby’s Organic Sweet Corn, drained
  • ¼ cup of chopped red onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (or I used 2 tsp of freeze-dried garlic cloves)
  • 2 chopped jalapeños with seeds and steams removed
  • ¼ cup chopped red peppers, with seeds and steams removed
  • ¼ cup chipped cilantro
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbls lime juice
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the black beans, corn, garlic, jalapeños, red peppers, cilantro, and cumin.
  2. Add in the olive oil and lime juice, mix well.
  3. Mix in salt and cayenne to your taste preference.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Be sure to follow Libby’s:

Facebook | Twitter \ Pinterest

Enter to win a Magic Bullet Express!

Magic Bullet
Contest Rules:
Open to US Only.
Giveaway ends October 1, 2013 at 11:59pm
Please read the terms on the Rafflecopter entry widget below.

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You Could Win a Trip to Paris From Buddy Fruits!

Buddy Fruits

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Social Moms and Buddy Fruits. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and that of my own.

Buddy Fruits

 

What’s not to love about Buddy Fruits? They provide a mess-free, healthy snack for kids on the go! These squeezable pouches have been amazing in our household. They make eating fruit fun and convenient for both parents and kids.

I was given the opportunity to try out some of the Buddy Fruits in our household. My daughter loves the Coconut Milk, as well as the amazing flavors of fruits, such as: Apple & Multifruit, Apple & Banana, Apple & Strawberry, and Mango & Banana. In her own words she says they are, “De-wicious.”

Buddy Fruits has teamed up with the Smurfs for the release of the Smurfs 2 and to bring their fans a phenomenal giveaway. They are giving away a family vacation to Paris! Enter here for a chance to win one of two family trips for four to Paris!

Here are some of the things we love about Buddy Fruits:

  • 100% fruit
  • They come in a resealable pouch
  • They have several product lines to choose from, including: Coconut Milk and Juice, Pure Blended Fruits, Pure Fruit Bites, Apple Chips, and more!

My daughter loves the Smurfs, so we visited the Buddy Fruits Facebook Page and played with the photo creator, where you can upload your own photos and some of your favorite Smurf characters along with text. My daughter loves Papa Smurf, which is funny because most little girls like Smurfette best. ha! She has a stuffed Papa Smurf that she totes everywhere with her. Last week she even put him in her jacket to keep him warm because it was going to be cold outside.

Be sure to like Buddy Fruits on Facebook so that you can take part in the fun! Along with creating custom photos, you can also download computer wallpapers and coloring pages for the kids.

If you are looking for a great, mess-free, snack for your kids that you can feel good about, I highly recommend Buddy Fruits. Visit their store locator to find out where they are sold near you. We can find them at our local Walmart, which makes it super convenient for us.

Follow Buddy Fruits for more information about their great products:

Twitter | Pinterest | You Tube

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Buddy Fruits blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Keeping Your Family Healthy: 5 Tips

Tips For Healthy Living

As the the kids are going back to school, and we are nearing fall, it seems like this is the prime time for someone to get sick in our household. We all have pretty bad allergies, and in the Midwest the fall is usually when the farmers harvest the crops and all of the allergens are left flying through the air. 

Tips For Healthy Living

Because I can’t limit our time spent outdoors in the fall, there are several steps that I take to ensure that we are ready for this season.

1. I try to keep the house clean.

This might sound like a no-brainer, but is essential in keeping your family healthy. I make sure to dust more often so that we don’t have an extra irritant in our home if someone should come down with a cold. I also use disinfectant wipes and keep all of the doorknobs, countertops, and tables wiped down to limit the spread of germs between one another.

2. I enforce hand-washing . . . always.

We wash our hands before we eat, after we play with the animals, and after we come in from outside. The less contact we have with germs, the better. Especially when our hands often come in contact with our mouth and nose.

3. I have taught my family where to sneeze.

Yes, this might sound a little control-freakish, but sneezing spreads germs quickly. Did you know that one of the best places to sneeze is into the inside of your arm? Of course, when you are three, it is hard to enforce this rule, but we are making sure to teach her to cover her mouth and wash her hands afterward. It’s a work in progress.

4. Cover your mouth when you cough.

This is something that my mom repeated to me ALL THE TIME. Even as an adult. Now that I have a child, I realize how important it is because illness can spread so quickly when you are in close quarters with others. We practice covering our mouth when we cough and washing our hands afterward.

5. Maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise.

This one has been hard for me over the years because I am a work-a-holic. However, by making sure that your family is getting all of the proper vitamins and nutrients through food, and are staying active, you can actually ward-off sickness. Not only that, but I’ve noticed that when I am eating right and exercising, my sickness doesn’t hang around as long as it used to. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of iVillage
. The opinions and text are all mine.

What Would You Do If You Won Some Extra Cash?

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I remember being a young child when I first heard about the Publishers Clearing House brand. My grandparents were diligent about entering and I would often see the material sitting around the house. (Back then, they didn’t have any digital properties yet.) I asked my grandpa why he entered the PCH so consistently and he always replied, “You never know, one of these times I could win.”

It was that perseverance that taught me that you can’t succeed if you don’t try. Even though they never won, it was still fun to watch them enter, and equally as fun to watch the television and watch the winners accept their prize.

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What would you do with $5,000 a week for the rest of your life?

The Publishers Clearing House “Forever” prize allows the winner to receive $5,000 a week for the rest of their life AND add a beneficiary to pass the winnings down to, so that they can then receive $5,000 per week for the rest of their life. What a prize, am I right? 

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2012 Winner, John Wylie, with his prize check. 

This brings me back to my question: What would you do if you won money like this?

I have a list of things I would do first if I received a large sum of money like this.

  1. I would pay off any outstanding debt. (Who wouldn’t?)
  2. I would set aside money to cover my daughter’s college expenses.
  3. I would donate some to charity and those whom I thought would use it wisely.
  4. I would invest some of it.
  5. I would start a foundation to help a cause near and dear to my heart.

These are just some ideas of things I would do if I suddenly happened to win a lot of money. I would probably also upgrade our family vehicle, but would try to be as smart with the money as I could. How about you? What would you do?

Since the “Forever” prize allows you to leave a legacy and for the winnings to carry on, who would you name as your beneficiary? I’m sure most of you with children will probably name them (as I know I would). Who would you leave this amazing opportunity to if you had the chance?

Visit the Publishers Clearing House website for more information on the “Forever” prize and how you can enter. 

 

The “Forever” Prize lets you leave a legacy for your loved ones. Win, and you’d get $5,000 a week for your life, then after that, you’d get to choose someone to receive $5,000 a week for their life! It’s unlike any other PCH prize — and it’s GUARANTEED to be awarded this August!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Publishers Clearing House. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Publishers Clearing House.  The opinions and text are all mine.

Family Time on the Lake #DiscoverBoating

Discover Boating

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Discover Boating. I received collateral to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Being outdoors by the lake in the summer makes me very happy. There is something about the scenery and the sound of the water splashing that is very calming, and this mama loves a nice calm evening.

Here was a beautiful shot of our view the last time we were at the lake.

Discover Boating

While we are on the lake, we love to fish. When I was small I was always my dad’s fishing buddy and loved to get out there and try to catch the biggest fish. Today, we love to take our daughter with us and are teaching her how to fish also. Our time at the lake has created such fun memories that can continue to be passed down for generations to come.

While on the lake, it is important to remember boating safety. DiscoverBoating.com is a great resource to visit to learn more about boating, safety, and what type of boating equipment that you may need before you go out on the water.

I enjoy coming to this site to research the type of boat that we may need depending on what water activities we will be doing on the lake. Occasionally, depending on what water activities we decide upon, we like to rent boats if our family doesn’t have the particular boat available. For instance, you use a different type of boat for tubing than you would if you were going on a big fishing expedition.

Boat maintenance is something that is very important also. Here in the Midwest, we have to winterize them to protect them against the elements. Keeping up with the maintenance on a boat is much like that of a car, you have to make sure that the oil is changed and that you do various checks throughout the year. DiscoverBoating.com has all of that information, as well as where you can rent boats, boating clubs and organizations, and even boating information for kids. It truly is a great resource to visit before you go out on the water.

What type of boating do you like to do? Would you rather troll in a fishing boat, or lounge on a pontoon?

Subaru Backseat Living #SubaruBackseat

Let’s talk a bit today about life in the car, or rather, the backset. Before becoming a mom, the only time I was remotely worried about the backset of my car was when I had to get groceries. Does this sound like you?

Now, I’m all about making sure the backseat is comfortable for my child, and whatever else might be back there with her. 

We have two dogs and when you load pets in the car, they often take over. I hope you enjoy this video of this family’s best friend taking up room in their backseat.

My daughter rides in the backseat often with our dogs, who remain kenneled. When we do drive through, she likes to take her fries and poke them through the holes of the kennel to share them with the dogs. We also have a DVD player and they often sit in the backseat and watch movies together if we are on long trips. 

To view more of the videos from Subaru and life in the backseat, be sure to visit this link. There are some super cute ones!

The 2014 Subaru Forester? would like for you to join in the conversation about your favorite backseat stories for a chance to win $1000! 

So, if your backseat could tell its story, what would it say?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Subaru. The opinions and text are all mine.

Legends of Amun Ra: The Emerald Tablet by Joshua Silverman

The Emerald Tablet

The  Emerald Tablet

Leoros doesn’t have many friends. The son of a scientist and archeologist, he is constantly on the move. But when his parents make a startling discovery in Egypt, Leoros’ world is turned upside down.

Do you wish you could have the power of a god? Would you use it for good…or for evil?

When an archaeologist discovers the mythic Emerald Tablet buried beneath Egypt’s desert, her son decodes the ancient text leading him to a distant world.

On that world, a slave girl begins a journey towards a destiny she cannot imagine. But when an ancient foe rises from the ashes, they will be brought together by forces neither understands.

Leoros, who dreams of being like the heroes in the comic books, must fight to unlock the secrets of the universe to save a people he never knew existed.

Atlantia, whose bloody visions wake her in the night, senses the darkness coming.

Together they will face an enemy with the power of dark energy, lose a mentor to the assassin’s blade, and be betrayed by someone they trust. Their fight for the future is just beginning, and before it is over, a final sacrifice must be made. When the darkness comes, will they stand and fight or will they join it?

There is darkness in everyone.

Purchase the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review

This book is a sci-fi fantasy that includes quite an elaborate world. Joshua Silverman does a nice job giving us details into the world, the many characters in this story, and the journey within. I think this is a good read for mid-older teens as well as adults (and the only reason I say this is because there is a bit of violence). There is plenty of action to keep you on the edge of your seat. The author did a very nice job with the action scenes in this book.

The story itself is very complex and gives a lot of information about several characters. If I had to choose one that I liked the best, I would probably say Leoros because of wisdom he possesses for his age. I also enjoyed Atlantia because she has the guts to stand up for herself. I like a strong female in books.

I also really liked the cover of this book. I’m a total cover shopper and have to mention that this one is fantastic!

There was a bit of romance in this book, which I enjoyed, being a heavy romance reader. But, I also really like the fantasy and the world-building part of books because this is one of the most difficult parts of being a writer. I think that Silverman handled the world nicely with  so much going on in the book.

I can see a lot of potential with this series, as I think Silverman has several books planned for. Definitely a good read if you enjoy fantasy and sci-fi.

This book tour is being hosted by Promotional Book Tours. If you would like to learn more about the author, enter to win a great prize, or follow along with the rest of the tour, please click here!

I was given a book in exchange for my honest review.

My Fruit Juice Sparkles with #MyPlatinum

Fruit Juice

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

It’s week 4 of the Cascade Platinum Ambassadorship and I have to say that I am loving the sparkle that the Platinum puts on my dishes. The glasses look so bright and shiny that it almost makes it appear as if my fruit juice actually sparkles!

Fruit Juice

 

If you stare at the glass hard enough, you can see a bit of my reflection and my gray cardigan I was wearing in the glass. That is how sparkly the dishes are, they reflect well!

Since we’ve been using the Platinum pacs in our home, we have noticed that our dishes, silverware, and glasses are all sparkling shiny. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, we’ve seen an improvement with the inside of the dishwasher. We have really hard water here and I’ve noticed that the inside of our dishwasher is much cleaner than it used to be. The Platinum pacs cut down on hard water so that the inside of your dishwasher is left sparkling also!

Don’t forget that the Cascade Platinum Instagram contest is now in it’s 4th week. This week the focus is My Platinum Table. To enter, visit the website and register and be sure to tag your photos on Instagram with #MyPlatinum and @MyCascade in order to correctly be counted for an entry.

My family will definitely continue to use and purchase the Cascade Platinum pacs for the dishwasher. We have faithfully used Cascade products and have had a strong brand loyalty to them for years. Simply put, I believe they are the best.  The new platinum pacs come in fresh and lemon burst scents and you can visit their website to find a retail store near you that sells the pacs.

Just say no to water spots, and yes to the cleaning power of Cascade Platinum.

Get Your Car Ready For Summer Driving with Hankook Tires #HankookUSA

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hankook Tires. The opinions and text are all mine.

As I’ve been going more places recently, I’ve noticed that my tires are wearing and it is time to replace them.

What steps do you take to ensure that your vehicle is ready for the summer? I have three general tasks that I perform on mine, listed below:

  1. Check tire pressure and wear. To check for wear, be sure to examine the outside and inside of the tire to check for uneven places, or other visible imperfections in the tire.
  2. Check and change the fluids if needed.
  3. Clean out your vehicle and make sure that it is packed with all necessary travel supplies, such as a first-aid kit and tire jack.

Hankook Tires has announced their new line, the Ventus S1 noble2. This tire has an asymmetric tread pattern and a 50,000 mile limited treadwear warranty.

Hankook is currently offering a rebate on the following tires:

  • Ultra-High Performance Summer: Ventus V12 evo
  • Ultra-High Performance All-Season: Ventus S1 noble2
  • Premium Touring All-Season: Optimo H727
  • Premium Highway All-Season Light Truck/SUV: Dynapro HT

You can get more information on the rebate here.

Are you going anywhere fun this summer that you could definitely use new tires for?

 

Bumbleberry Pie Sundae #MyPlatinum

Sundae

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

My husband wanted to grill out for Father’s Day, so I was looking for a great sweet treat to accompany our T-Bone steaks. Chef Gail Simmons has a fantastic Bumbleberry Pie Sundae recipe that I wanted to test out.

Sundae

I love summer entertaining, but I must admit that before using Cascade Platinum pacs I was always a little worried about how sparkling my dishes would come out. In fact, I would often hand wash and dry small glasses, wine glasses, and entertaining dishes and silverware because I was always worried about the water spots. I don’t have to worry about water spots with Cascade products, so all of that extra time can now be spent catching up with my friends rather than worrying about spots on my glassware.

Cascade

Don’t forget to stop by the Instagram contest and link up your Platinum Bite.

When it comes to summer recipes, what type of ingredients do you like to use? We love both ice cream and berries in my house, so naturally, this sundae was a hit!

Bumbleberry Pie Sundae

Bumbleberry Pie Sundae
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 cups plus ¾ cup mixed berries, well washed and divided (any combination of strawberries hulled and quartered, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries halved)
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 pint raspberry sorbet
  • 6 graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan heat one cup of mixed berries, 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon juice over medium heat, until the blueberries begin to burst and the other berries break down, about 10 minutes. Remove from off heat and stir in the pinch of salt.
  2. Place half the berry mixture in a blender and puree until smooth. Return the sauce to the saucepan and stir well to combine with remaining fruit. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl crush ¾ cup of mixed berries with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar using a fork, until slightly chunky and loose. In a large bowl or stand mixer, using a balloon whisk or hand-held mixer, beat the cream at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold the crushed berries into the whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. To serve: spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce into each of 6 parfait or rocks glasses. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a sprinkling of crushed graham crackers, and a pinch of lemon zest. Then add a scoop of the raspberry sorbet and another 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and finish with a sprinkling of the graham crackers and another pinch of zest. Serve immediately.

Do you have any great summer recipes planned?

Summer Boating: I’m a Discover Boating Ambassador! #DiscoverBoating

Lake

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Discover Boating. I received collateral to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

I would like to announce that I am a Discover Boating Ambassador!

Do you go boating in the summer? As a family we try to go several times each summer. We have a lake not far from us where we go fishing, and when we go on vacation, we try to go out on the lake with our family. My family lives by several lakes, so we love to go down and enjoy a cruise along the lake in a boat.

LakeThere is nothing more beautiful than the lake at sunset.

I’m excited for us to be able to get out on the water this summer as a family and do some fishing. Fishing happens to be my daughter’s newest obsession. She has a tiny fishing pole and wants her dad to take her fishin’ every chance they get.

When it comes to boating with kids, you must practice safety measures to ensure that your child is protected at all times and make sure that everyone has life vests that fit correctly. Discover Boating has a great “boating with kids” section on their website that all parents should read over. Bating safety is something that should be taken very seriously, and when practiced, will ensure that everyone can have a great time.

Did you go boating for Father’s Day weekend? Please enjoy this touching video about a man’s journey by boat.

To learn more about boating, please visit the Discover Boating Facebook page. Here you can also upload your photos of your great boating adventures for a chance to win great prizes.

Do you have any great stories about boating and family that you would like to share? Where is your favorite place to go boating?

National Internet Safety Month #CyberSafe

Cyber-Survivor

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

June is National Internet Safety Month. How do you feel about your Cyber Smarts when it comes to your children being on the Internet?

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America has set up a website where you can go and test your Cyber Smarts. I went through the quiz and am officially a Cyber Survivor. Stop over and take the quiz to see how you do and come back here to share! The website also has discussion cards that you can print and go over with your children, as well as several online resources about Cyber Safety for different aged children.

Cyber-Survivor

I feel that being a blogger has helped me understand more about social media. As a parent, it is important to me to make sure that my child is monitored while using social networks and that we always keep those lines of communication open. My little one is only three, but she still likes to get online and watch cartoons on You Tube. Even at three, she can run the mouse and navigates the computer better than her father. :) So I realize how important it is to watch her on the Internet so that she doesn’t access something that she isn’t suppose to.

Tips to Being a Cyber Survivor:

  1. Be friends with your child on social networks. 
  2. Talk to your child regularly about social media.
  3. Google your child’s name.
  4. Check your child’s phone frequently.
  5. Make sure your child’s social media settings are set to private.
  6. Know the rules – kids under 13 should not be on Facebook.
  7. Brush up on your facts! The more you know about social meda, the better!

Do you consider yourself a Cyber Survivor? Why or why not?

 

Dental Health – Show Off Your Floss Face #FlossFace

Oral B Logo

I participated in this sponsored campaign for One2One Network. I received monetary compensation and product to facilitate my post, but all opinions stated are my own.

When it comes to oral care, I am a bit obsessed. I tend to brush and floss my teeth much more than the recommended amount. It’s easy to take care of your teeth when you have such amazing products at your disposal.

Oral B Logo

Today, let’s talk about flossing. Flossing is very important to your dental health. I love to enjoy foods like popcorn, corn-on-the-cob, and even chicken wings, but frequently get food stuck between my teeth. I also have very sensitive gums, so I have to be careful what products I use so that I don’t irritate them. I am loving the new Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss.

Glide

 

This floss not only protects against cavities and bad breath, it is silky smooth and also very minty. As soon as I opened the package, I could smell the freshness. The Glide line of products are designed to fit into tight spaces between your teeth and make flossing much easier. According to the Oral-B website, when used with a comprehensive dental health routine, this product can help reverse gingivitis within 2 weeks!

Removing the excess food stuck between our teeth is necessary, but can be amusing at times.

Do you have a silly floss face?

I do… and here is mine! I floss directly before bed (hence the gorgeous hairdo and no makeup).

floss-face

 

Oral-B wants to see your best Floss Face! Submit your photo before July 7th, 2013 on their Facebook Page and you could win a tablet PC! The first 5,000 entrants will win free Glide product and swag.

Have fun with it and show them your best floss face!

Cascade Platinum and the #MyPlatinum Instagram Contest

Pizza Pockets

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

I received my Cascade Platinum pacs in the mail and took them out of the package. My husband looks at me and says, “I just bought those and they work fantastic!” (He’s been handling dish-duty lately.) It’s a good sign when your husband already loves the product!

I washed my favorite small, square dish and made some pizza pockets. I love the way that the Cascade Platinum leaves my dishes sparkling.

Pizza Pockets

I did notice a huge difference while using the Platinum pacs. It seemed like I didn’t have to pre-wash my dishes prior to adding them to the dishwasher. This saves a lot of time! We have hard water and it also seemed like the pacs really leave my dishes very clean and free of build-up. Another thing that I’ve noticed after just running two loads, is that my dishwasher was totally clean on the inside. Normally it has a bit of a hard water build-up left in it. I’m very happy with the results of using Cascade Platinum.

Cascade is currently hosting a “My Platinum” Instagram contest! Snap a photo of your sparkling dishes, silverware, and glassware for the opportunity to win awesome prizes! To enter the contest, snap a photo of your favorite meal on a sparkling plate and tag it with #MyPlatinum on Instagram. Register here to enter!

Top Chef Judge and the editor of Food + Wine magazine, Gail Simmons, has gotten together with Cascade to show people how food presentation is equally as important as the preparation. You can learn more and watch the videos on the Cascade You Tube page. They have several amazing videos over there. In fact, I just pinned one today to my #MyPlatinum Pinterest Board that shows how to properly load your dishwasher.

Let’s talk about dishes!

What challenges do you face in your current dish washing routine?

I’m a Cascade #MyPlatinum Ambassador! #Sponsored

Cascade

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Washing dishes is a task that we all participate in daily. Luckily, I have a dishwasher (other than my husband) that I can load and start so that I don’t have to put a lot of time and effort into washing the dishes. I wouldn’t be able to do this if it weren’t for my Cascade dishwashing products.

Cascade

Cascade has recently come out with a new product, the Platinum Pacs, that use triple-action to bust through even the hardest of stuck-on foods. I personally hate pre-washing dishes. No one has time for that. The new Platinum Pacs eliminate the need for pre-washing and even help prevent hard-water build-up within your dishwasher. That’s a pretty tough little package!

I have personally used Cascade for years in my dishwasher. It is a brand that I trust and that has worked very well for me. We have very hard water here in town and it is nice to be able to have something that is easy to use and that helps break through that calcium in the water to keep the dishes free of film.

Since I am a Cascade “My Platinum” Ambassador, this will be my first blog post of four letting you know more about this product, and my experiences with it. Cascade is launching a “My Platinum” Instagram contest that everyone will have a chance to participate in. I’m really excited about this because I love sharing via Instagram, so this will be a fun contest! I hope that you will all join me in participating. During my ambassadorship, I will also be sharing more information with you about Cascade’s new partnership with Top Chef Judge, Gail Simmons!

For more information about Cascade, please visit the Cascade Facebook page.

5 Tips for Furnishing an Outdoor Space #DigIn

BackPatio

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

When trying to furnish your outdoor living space, it is important to keep many factors in mind: weather, size of your space, and your lifestyle.

1. Choose a flooring that is right for the conditions in your area.

Envirotile

You want a flooring for your outdoor living space that can withstand the weather in your area, and your lifestyle. I know that we will require something that must stand up strong against heavy winds, and our three-year old daughter! I want to install a flooring over our patio where she can play and I don’t have to experience the fear of her faling face-first into hard concrete.

2. Measure your space and lay it out

BackPatio

My back patio is small, so I need to find a furniture set that will fit the size of the patio unless I want to prepare my ground for additional flooring.

3. Choose outdoor living furniture to fit your lifestyle.

Large DIY Projects - Pergola

The Home Depot has plenty of outdoor furniture to choose from. They also have pre-made pergolas and gazebos, or plenty of lumber in-store that you can use to build them yourself.

4. Choose some great accessories for your space!

Envirotile Patio Updates

Potted plants, barbecue grills, firepits . . . The Home Depot has it all. Choose accessories that fit with your space well and hat are functional for your family to be able to enjoy.

5. Landscape your new outdoor living space.

Zipper Pathway Project

Create a path to your space, add flowers or bushes surrounding it, or even add some large shrubs or trees for added shade. The visuals are going to be what makes your space calm and inviting, but with plants and flowers, you can even create a space that smells wonderful and even could attract certain birds for you to enjoy watching.

What are some tips you have for furnishing an outdoor living space?

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need to #DigIn for Spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, they have great values on all you need. They’re ready to help you with renovation ideas and expert advice, too.

Get over $300 in email exclusive savings each year, sneak peeks on new products, monthly lawn & garden ideas for your region and access to The Home Depot’s gardening experts. Click here to join the world’s largest garden community today! Or go to homedepot.com/gardenclub to see some of the many benefits of membership.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Shopping For Outdoor Living Furniture: Online vs Store #DigIn

Furniture

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

In yesterday’s post, I briefly talked about shopping for outdoor living furniture and mentioned that I had browsed online and at the store.

Home Depot Logo

The Home Depot has such a great selection of outdoor living furniture online. The following is a photo of the Hampton Bay Edington 4-pc Seating Set.

Outdoor Patio - Beyond the Grill

The reason why I love this piece so much is that it is a small set that would fit my tiny patio space. I mentioned yesterday that I felt that shopping online gave me more time to really dig deep into the features of a product. On The Home Depot website you are able to read the full product description, check out the specs, and my favorite part – read the reviews.

Yes, I do read product reviews before I make a large purchase. I think it is great to read about the experiences people have had with the product before I purchase.

I love to combine researching a product online with shopping in-store. I love to “feel” the product. Texture and color are very important to me, and they are things are sometimes are better displayed in the store. When I looked at this set online, I didn’t think about it much, but in the store, I saw how it was set up and visually started styling my patio. Imagine a nice firepit in the center of this set and everyone sitting around it, keeping warm.

Furniture

Since shade is something I was looking for specifically, I was also looking at umbrellas. While shopping for them online is great, it was nice for me to see exactly how large they were in the store. Here was one that I loved. You can see that it is very large, which would be perfect for my space.

umbrella

There are definite advantages to shopping online and in the store environment. The nice thing is that you have the ability to choose which works best for you! I’ve also done my process backwards and looked at the sets in the store and came home to purchase them later online.

The Home Depot staff is very helpful in either instance. Online they have a large help and customer support center where you can find answers to just about any question you have, or if an answer isn’t found, you can just ask and someone will help you. In the store the associates always ask if I need any assistance. I am always impressed when I visit The Home Depot with how attentive their staff is to customer needs.

So, what about you? Do you prefer shopping online or in-store for outdoor living furniture?

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need to #DigIn for Spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, they have great values on all you need. They’re ready to help you with renovation ideas and expert advice, too.

Get over $300 in email exclusive savings each year, sneak peeks on new products, monthly lawn & garden ideas for your region and access to The Home Depot’s gardening experts. Click here to join the world’s largest garden community today! Or go to homedepot.com/gardenclub to see some of the many benefits of membership.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Outdoor Living Ideas: Outdoor Furniture #DigIn

Outdoor Furniture

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

When it came down to searching for places in the backyard to create outdoor living spaces, I evaluated my yard space, and then started looking around for outdoor furniture. At our home we have to not only choose outdoor furniture based upon our lifestyle, but we also need to find quality furniture that can stand up to a good storm.

Our backyard has no shade, so first on my agenda is to create the shade using outdoor furniture. The Home Depot has the widest selection of furniture, including patio umbrellas, and even gazebos. I headed to their website in search of something strong, that isn’t going to blow away in our crazy wind, but still be functional in our current space.  Sometimes I like to shop online first so that I have more time to read about a product before I look at it in the store.

Outdoor Furniture

Photo credit: The Home Depot

I absolutely love this furniture set, because it would be the right size for our patio, but I think that we will require a larger umbrella for shade. After I had a few options picked out, I went to the store so that I could look at the different sets available and be able to feel the product materials.

Outdoor Furniture

Our local Home Depot has a great selection of furniture. Being able to see the patio umbrellas also really helped me to see that I could mix and match a few of the sets to work for our our outdoor living space.

Tiled Patio Table

This table quickly became my favorite. I love the tiled look on the top of the table and also how sturdy this piece of furniture is. The chairs look like they would weather the outdoors good, and aren’t so heavy that I couldn’t bring them back indoors if I needed to.

Furniture

This is another set that I keep going back to. I love the color and the way that this looks SO comfortable. I actually sat in it and it is just as comfortable as it looks. If I can talk my husband into building us a pergola this year, then this set would definitely be the one I went with.

What do you think? What would you have to consider while choosing outdoor furniture for your home?

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need to#DigIn for Spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, they have great values on all you need. They’re ready to help you with renovation ideas and expert advice, too.

Get over $300 in email exclusive savings each year, sneak peeks on new products, monthly lawn & garden ideas for your region and access to The Home Depot’s gardening experts. Click here to join the world’s largest garden community today! Or go to homedepot.com/gardenclub to see some of the many benefits of membership.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Spending More Time Outdoors #DigIn

Rose-Bush

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Since we moved into our home four years ago, we really haven’t done much with our outdoor living space. I would love to create something like the photo below to our backyard so that we would be able to actually enjoy our backyard this Spring.

To gather some inspiration for outdoor living ideas, I went to our local park. One of my favorite spaces gives the appearance of being very simple, yet quiet. I would love to create an outdoor reading nook where I could escape for a few hours each day.

Outdoor Living Spaces

The next thing that I did was take a survey of spaces around my home. First, we have no patio furniture. Sure, my husband has a great homemade seat he uses when he grills, but if the rest of us want to go outside and hang out, we have no where to sit!

Patio

I would love to be able to clear everything off of the patio and add a nice four-piece seating area and some greenery. I would also like to create a pathway that goes along the side of the house. Here is an image of what it looks like now. Excuse the long grass, last year we had an extreme drought that killed most of our grass and we are trying to re-grow this year (which is why we wait to mow parts of it).

Pathway

In order to create an outdoor living space, you must first select your space and clear it of any debris. Once properly prepared, get ideas and start laying out your plan. This involves choosing everything from your flooring to any archways, windows, or structures you will add to your space. Lastly, choose your landscape. I have one rose bush planted around my entire house. Last year it only bloomed once due to the extreme weather conditions, but this year, I can already see plenty of buds!

Rose-Bush

Are you excited to get started creating outdoor living spaces around your home this year and spend more time outdoors?

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need to #DigIn for Spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, they have great values on all you need. They’re ready to help you with renovation ideas and expert advice, too.

Get over $300 in email exclusive savings each year, sneak peeks on new products, monthly lawn & garden ideas for your region and access to The Home Depot’s gardening experts. Click here to join the world’s largest garden community today! Or go to homedepot.com/gardenclub to see some of the many benefits of membership.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

Barbie Color Magic Mermaid Doll

Barbie Mermaid

Disclosure: I was provided with this product for review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and that of my own.

My daughter loves her growing collection of Barbie dolls. Her newest doll is the Color Magic Mermaid Barbie, which features color changing hair and is safe in the bathtub.

Barbie Mermaid

While wet, this Barbie’s hair could change pink, purple, and blue – it’s a surprise! The color changing is actually controlled by the temperature of the water that the doll is immersed in. The mermaid tail also changes colors, giving the doll a new look.

This doll is a lot of fun because she emulates realistic swimming motions through the water, allowing your child to create her own underwater fairytale.

The Barbie Color Magic Mermaid Doll comes with the following accessories:

  • Seahorse squirt-toy friend
  • Hair brush
  • Tiara
  • Necklace

This doll is available as Barbie (blond hair) or Teresa (brunette hair) at your local Walmart stores for $19.97.

What features do you like most about this Barbie doll?

 

Indoor Play Ideas with Toy Story Zing-Ems

Toy Story

Disclosure: I received this product in exchange for an honest review.

I like to come up with several indoor play ideas during the winter because it is so hard for us to get outside. In Nebraska we tend to have such cold, blustery winds that no one wants to be outside in. So, on chilly days, we spend our time discovering new ways to learn, have fun, and spend time together.

Toy StoryLately, we’ve been enjoying indoor play with the Toy Story Rocket Rumble Zing-Ems Playset. This set is so much for for imaginative play and has kept my daughter busy for hours. She loves to pull back the lever and launch Buzz Lightyear and his friends onto the track, giving them obstacles to maneuver around on their way around.

Obstacle Course

 

The obstacle course was very easy to put together. It doesn’t take batteries, which is a definite plus in my opinion.

Buzz Lightyear

 

The figurines are about two inches tall and come on rollers, so they can roll around the track. They are very easy to roll around without tipping over.

My daughter figured out how to play with this immediately. She lined up the figures in the launcher and started to shoot them up the track. Hearing her giggle and start conversations between Buzz and the other figurines was delightful for me. I love when she has so much fun interacting with new toys.

Some ideas that we have tried with this playset include:

  • Setting a timer to see how many times the figurines make it around the track in one minute.
  • Counting the number of different directions each figurine takes as it goes up the track.
  • Setting up different obstacles to see if the characters can make it through.
  • Having the figurines race each other on the track.

So far we have had nothing but fun with this playset.

You can get the Toy Story Zing-Ems Playset (Track and 1 figure) at Walmart, and additional retailers. This playset is for ages 4 and up.

 

Shake Up Your Wake Up #SilkFruit

Silk Fruit & Protein

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Silk blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

There are mornings when I don’t feel like eating anything at all for breakfast. I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I am also well aware that I am not getting enough protein during this meal. So, I often look to juices or shakes as a way to fill myself up in the morning.

Silk Fruit & Protein has been a fantastic beverage for my family to enjoy and comes in three delicious flavors: Mixed Berry, Mango Peach, and Strawberry Banana. The Strawberry Banana is my favorite so far, and I love cutting up fresh strawberries and bananas to serve along with it. I often drop them in the bottom of my daughter’s cup as a surprise after she finishes her drink.

Silk Fruit & Protein

I discovered Silk Fruit & Protein right after it first came out in stores. I had some issues with lactose growing up, so I’ve enjoyed Silk products for a number of years. They taste great and are a delicious dairy-free alternative. I was excited to see that they are now carrying these juice products! They can be found beside the other Silk beverages in the refrigerated section of your supermarket (not beside the juices).

I love the Silk Fruit & Protein because not only does it contain Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C, but it also contains 5 grams of protein per glass. This product is something that my family loves and something that I can feel good about giving them.

Silk Fruit & Protein can be enjoyed directly out of the container into a glass. I’ve also used it in lieu of water to make cupcakes with. My family really enjoys all of the creative ways that I have managed to sneak extra fruit, vitamins, and protein into their diet. They love the way that the drink tastes alone also, which is a great substitue for juice.

To find and purchase Silk Fruit & Protein products at a store near you, please use the store locator on the Silk website. Be sure to head over to Silk’s Facebook Page to grab a $1 off coupon toward your purchase. $1 off is a great way to try a fantastic product.

Like Silk on Facebook:

What Silk Fruit & Protein flavor are you most excited about?

Enter to Win a $200 Amazon Gift Card or $200 Paypal Cash

PaypalAmazon

PaypalAmazon

Enter to win either $200 Amazon Gift Card or $200 Paypal Cash (winner’s choice).

Giveaway Rules:

Open: Worldwide
Ends: June 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST

If Your Dog Could Talk, What Would He Say?

Disclosure: This is a Fashionista opportunity.

In my house, we treat our pets like people, so I am curious to see what they would say if they had the ability to talk. I have a very vocal yorkie that makes a loud howl noise that sounds like “yow, yow, yow, yow” when we have guests. It’s funny because we always say that is him greeting them.

Check out this video by Dogswell that features a talking dog:

I am certain that if my dog could talk he would request treats. Dogswell is offering $1 off coupon on their Facebook page so that your pooch can try out their Jerky Bars.

The Jerkey Bars come in 4 different flavors: Chicken & Veggies, Lamb & Veggies, Salmon & Veggies and Turkey & Veggies and you can visit their website to find them in a store near you.

What’s different about Dogswell treats? They contain 85% protein, 15% fruits & veggies and 0% bad stuff.

So, if your dog could talk, what would he say?

 

Diagnose Your Sticky Situation with the Clorox Ick-tionary

clorox_ick

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Clorox blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

Have you ever had a sticky situation that was tough to describe? Messes are disgusting, but as parents we combat our fair share of them and may as well have a laugh! Head on over to the Clorox Ick-tionary website to find a list of common household messes created by other parents and see what Clorox products can help combat them.

clorox_ick

The fun part about the Ick-tioinary is that you can also submit your own words! I submitted a term and definition to the website that is a common household mess that we deal with daily:

Table Scraps: The leftover food that remains stuck to the table after the kids have finished their meal.

Eww, right? But the most important thing is that we can laugh about the nasty messes later!

We use the Clorox Disinfecting Wipes after every meal to clean up the table. They are textured, so they are perfect for getting the messes that are stuck on good, and they cut through grease, so I use them to wipe off my stove and countertops. These wipes are great to keep around the kitchen, and in the bathrooms. I also use these to wipe off all of the door handles in our home regularly because they kill the cold and flu viruses. It’s so easy to just grab a wipe, and go through the house with it.

I’ve used the Clorox Disinfecting wipes for years now and just discovered that I can also clean my windows with them. For years I have tried to come up with ways to wash my windows where I didn’t have streaks. My best secret was to use crumpled newspaper along with the window cleaner to get a streak-free window. However, now I know that I can simply use a Clorox wipe.

I have a large glass door that often gets peppered with doggie nose prints. I grabbed my wipes, went outside, and cleaned off my window. To my surprise, it was streak-free! Pretty excellent in my opinion! Now I don’t have to worry about washing my hands free of the black print from the newspaper. :)

What are some of the terms that you can come up with around your house for the Clorox Ick-tionary? 

Be sure to stop by and like Clorox on Facebook to receive more updates:

My Summer Beauty Routine #JergensNaturalGlow

JergensNaturalGlowFace

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jergens. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules 

My beauty regime during the summer changes quite a bit from that of the winter. I’ve learned over the past five years since I’ve lived in Nebraska that the weather is a little bit of everything. In the past two weeks alone we’ve gone from snow to 100 degrees. Last year we were in a drought, but had so much rain this year that it brought us out of it. I’ve learned to be prepared for any temperature.

I put together a little video sharing what I consider to be the most important beauty product of the summer – sunscreen. I get my daily sunscreen by using Jergens Natural Glow for the Face.

I had to wear shades because it was SO bright outside. That makes me excited though, because it is spring! (Even thought it feels like we have skipped directly over spring.) I love using the Jergens Natural Glow product for my face because it gives a great glow to my skin without the dangers of laying outside in the sun and getting potential sunburns or aged skin.

Jergens makes it easier than ever to glow with the NEW Natural Glow Moisturizers that provides great color, year-round, without the sunless tanner odor.

Share how natural-looking skin color makes you feel for a chance to win $500!

 

The Blasphemy Box by Mandy Behbehani

The-Blasphemy-Box

The-Blasphemy-Box“You know that nightmare you’ve always had? The one where you wake up one day to find yourself fat, frumpy, fifty and alone? I’m living it.”

Maddy Nelson has an idyllic existence: a handsome husband, great kids, a comfortable, affluent lifestyle. One morning soon after she turns fifty, however, she wakes up in her San Francisco home to find her husband Steven announcing that he’s leaving her for a woman half her age. And a third of her size.

Ouch!

Feeling totally unmoored and grieving for her married life and husband, Maddy finds herself thrust into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable world of middle-aged singledom. There, she must come to terms with her situation and embark on her new life: divorce proceedings, single parenting, internet dating, and trying to earn a living. It’s enough to drive her over the brink. To help her cope, she shares her struggles in a smart, wry blog named The Blasphemy Box, after her ex-husband’s obnoxious habit of having her drop a quarter into a wooden box every time she said something off color. Her madcap middle-aged adventures find her devoted readers who identify with her challenges.

In time, Maddy recreates herself and finds happiness in the arms of a good man, and a fulfilling new career as a novelist.

Purchase Kindle / Paperback

About Author Mandy Behbehani

Mandy Behbehani grew up in England and now lives in California. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and is a professional journalist whose work has appeared in a variety of publications from the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle to W magazine, Town & Country magazine and Travel & Leisure magazine.

Follow Mandy Behbehani:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Review:

A fantastic read!

This book is chalk full of emotion for the main character, Maddy, as she has her world turned upside down by the very person that she trusted the most, her husband. After she finds out that he is leaving her for a woman half her age, she is forced to pick up her life and put the pieces back together.

Even though the book takes you along Maddy’s journey, you can’t help but relate to her as a character, especially if you have ever been through a breakup. The author incorporates humor that will have you laughing out loud at times, making Maddy a 3D character that you love right from the start.

The book flowed very nicely and was a very enjoyable read. I sat down and read it all in one sitting because the story pulled me in and I just had to find out what was going to happen.

I would say that the genre of this book is chic-lit, but anyone looking for a good read about relationships would love this. I highly recommend!

Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

YumEarth Mother’s Day Candy Giveaway

YumEarthMothersDay

YumEarthMothersDay
YumEarth Organics Wishes Moms A Sweet & Healthy Mother’s Day!

YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears and Lollipops and YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans are made with real fruit juice and other natural ingredients for
mom’s who care.

YumEarth thanks all the moms out there for their growing concern to feed their families healthier food, made with organic and natural ingredients like ours. Show your sweet mom you care with the gift of YumEarth Organics treats. lollypop_-_01_-_800-600x399

YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears and Lollipops are made with real organic fruit juice and other planet-friendly and natural ingredients. They contain no artificial colors or flavors and no major allergens, such as gluten, nuts and dairy and no high-fructose corn syrup. Each serving provides 100% of daily vitamin C and has less than 70 calories.

YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears are the world’s first organic gummy bears with the quintessential bouncy texture of a traditional gummy in mouth-watering fruit flavors: new Mango Tango, new Perfectly Peach, Pomegranate Pucker, and Strawberry Smash.

YumEarth Organics Lollipops come in celebrated flavors: New Perfectly Peach, Pomegranate Pucker, Strawberry Smash and Very Very Cherry. YumEarth Organics Lollipops are called “the best lollipop I’ve ever tasted,” by Phil Lempert, Today Show Food Critic and Super Market Guru.

YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans are fun and fantastically sour flavored jelly beans. Today Show Food Critic and Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert called them, ““the best jelly bean I’ve ever tasted.”

YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears, YumEarth Organics Lollipops and YumEarth Naturals Sour Beans are being launched in new MultiPacks of 5 snack packs or 20 lollipops. They are still available in larger bags, bins and bulk.

YumEarth
• YumEarth Organics Gummy Bears MultiPack
SRP $3.99 (3.5oz), includes 5 snack packs

• YumEarth Organics Lollipops MultiPack
SRP $3.99 (4.2 oz), includes 20 lollipops

YumEarth Organics Sour Beans MultiPack
SRP $3.99 (3.5 oz), includes 5 snack packs

Where to buy YumEarth products:

SHOP ONLINE
YumEarth.com $2.99 shipping for $25+ orders and Free Shipping for $39+ orders.
They ship on the next business day via UPS Ground from San Diego – ETA is up to 6 business days.

Amazon.com use PRIME for 2 day shipping or sign up for a free PRIME trial for free 2 day shipping

iherb.com $8 for overnight or free for orders over $20

luckyvitamin.com free shipping on orders over $100

drugstore.com free shipping on orders over $25

SHOP LOCALLY
Also available at
Whole Foods
Target
Meijer
Earth Fare
Menards
CVS – not all locations
Fred Meyer
Sprouts
Healthy Home Market
Toys R Us
Babies R Us
Shop Rite
Kings
Harmon’s
The Fresh Market
Stop & Shop
buybuyBaby
HEB
Wegmans
Central Market
Jimbo’s
Vitamin Cottage
PCC Natural Markets
New Seasons Markets
Amazon.com
iHerb.com
Giant Eagle
Vitamin Cottage
Sunflower Markets
HomeGoods
TJ Maxx
Marshalls
Albertsons
Shaws
Raleys
Akins
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Veggie’s Bully by C. JoVan Williams

Veggies-Bully

Veggiesbullybadge
Veggies-BullyA Book Encouraging Self Esteem for Readers Young and Old

A book inspiring lessons about self love, Veggie Bunnie learns something that all readers need to know…. Love yourself, no matter what others may say! Filled with colorful illustrations, this book follows Veggie’s relationship with her friends Carb Monkey and his Uncle Bear. Throughout the book, ‘Carb’ wants to get even with the bully that is bothering Veggie, whereas ‘Uncle Bear’ wants her to take a different approach. This book encourages readers to be the best person they can be, regardless of how people may act around them.

Purchase Veggie’s Bully:
Kindle | Paperback

About Author C JoVan WilliamsC. JoVan Williams

Clarice Williams was born and raised in Chicago, IL, but now resides in New Jersey as an Air Force spouse, with a blended family of six. A freelance writer as seen in Military Spouse Magazine, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, she tries to find cost effective family friendly ways to entertain her loved ones. Her self-published works include children’s book that are available on Amazon under the pen name, C. JoVan Williams.

Follow Author C. JoVan Williams:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Review:

This is a cute book for kids. It tells all about the importance of staying on your own path, no matter what others say. The message is to do what you like to do and what makes you happy. My daughter loved looking at the illustrations and enjoyed that the character’s names were Veggie and Carb. She loves rabbits, so she enjoyed following Veggie’s story.

As an adult, this book resonated with me also. So many times we become concerned with other people’s perceptions of us that we lose focus. As long as we stay true to ourselves and the best decisions for us, that is all that should matter.

A great book with a great message!

Disclosure: I received this book for free in order to conduct my review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and are that of my own. This post includes affiliate links.

Thor and Me #ThorDarkWorld

Thor

I know what you are thinking… what type of ridiculousness have you come up with now, Amanda? Titling a post, “Thor and Me.”

Well, this is my point.

Here is Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, in the upcoming movie Thor: The Dark World.

Thor

Handsome, right? No one beats Thor.

And this is me, Amanda, as Thor.

AmandaAsThor

Tee hee.

I did that through an Augmented Reality App on my phone and it cracks me up every time I see it. :)

If you love Thor as much as I do, you will enjoy the new teaser trailer embedded below.

Look for Thor: The Dark World coming to theaters November 8, 2013!

For more information on Thor: The Dark World:

Visit the Thor Website
Follow Thor on Facebook
Follow Thor on Twitter

Source: Walt Disney Studios

Iron Man 3 New Clip Available #IronMan3

Iron Man 3

As the release date for Iron Man 3 nears, I am getting more excited for this movie! Last night I watched the red carpet premier coverage and enjoyed hearing the cast and directors talk more about this movie.

Iron Man 3

Enjoy this new clip “Nothing Has Been The Same Since New York.”

This clip makes my heart melt! Iron Man 3 opens in theaters on May 3rd and I can’t wait to see it.

For more information about Iron Man 3

Like Iron Man 3 On Facebook
Follow Iron Man 3 on Twitter
Visit the Iron Man 3 Website

Source: Walt Disney Studios

Put A New Twist On The Way You Clean

smart-twist-kitchen-kit

Disclosure: I was provided with a sample of the product in order to write my post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and are that of my own.

How many different cleaning products do you find yourself carrying around from room to room as you clean?

I took this challenge and found myself carrying several from room to room.

smart-twist-kitchen-kitNow, how would you feel about carrying all of your cleaning products around in just one simple, handy-to-use, system? Would it make your life easier? I know that it has mine. Especially with having a child around. I have to take extra precaution to keep all of my cleaning products out of her reach and locked away safely. Having all of my cleaners together in this hand-held system really helps me get stuff done without having to worry about her trying to grab something that she shouldn’t.

For more information on this great system, and to find out where you can get one of your own, please visit the SC Johnson website.

The Lone Ranger – New Posters & Livestream Event #TheLoneRanger

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger hits theaters on July 3rd (during my birthday month, yay!). Growing up I used to watch The Lone Ranger black and white television shows on the weekends. I’ve never been a huge fan of black and white tv, so I am super excited to see that Walt Disney Studios is remaking this movie, and (ahem) that Johnny Depp is Tonto.

Here are some enticing new posters released today of the characters.

The Lone RangerArmie Hammer as The Lone Ranger. Perfect Lone Ranger, right?

Johnny Depp as TontoJohnny Depp as Tonto. Have I mentioned already how much I love Johnny Depp?

Helena as RedNow this is VERY exciting. Helena Bonham Carter as Red.

I fell in love with Johnny and Helena starring together in Sweeney Todd, so I am super excited to see them both in this movie.

Okay, confession time. How many of you had a toy horse named Silver? I did, just so I could say Hi-Yo Silver, Away! It’s the simple things from childhood that bring back the best memories.

Be sure to check out the livestream Q&A featuring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer April 17th, 2013 at 1:00pm PST

For more information on The Lone Ranger:

Like The Lone Ranger on Facebook
Follow The Lone Ranger on Twitter
Visit The Lone Ranger Website

Previous posts about The Lone Ranger:

Disney/Bruckheimer Films’ The Lone Ranger

Source: Walt Disney Studios

 

 

 

Countdown to Iron Man 3: Lego Posters #IronMan3

LEGO Minifig Iron Man

I am a huge Iron Man fan, so I am excited to see Iron Man 3 hit theaters on May 3rd, 2013. New movie posters have been released today  with LEGO minifigs as Iron Man characters!

LEGO Minifig Iron Man

How many of you are minifig collectors? I used to hoard all of my brother’s LEGO people and mix and match their bodies. I grew up with two brothers, hence my love for superheros.

LEGO_IM3_teaser

 

If you haven’t yet seen the trailer for the Iron Man 3 movie, please enjoy it below. It gives me chills every time I watch it!

For more information about Iron Man 3

Like Iron Man 3 On Facebook
Follow Iron Man 3 on Twitter
Visit the Iron Man 3 Website

Are you going to see Iron Man 3 when it comes to theaters on May 3rd?

Source: Walt Disney Studios

Happy National Poetry Month! #DeliciousPairings

Delicious Pairings

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?

National Poetry Month was started in 1996 as a way for us to celebrate and share poetry among our culture. Nationally, libraries and schools participate in this event by holding poetry readings, setting up displays, and holding workshops for people who are interested to learn and practice the craft.

I started writing when I was young, and found poetry as a way to better express my feelings. In fact, I know many friends who were first introduced to poetry during their High School years and used it as an outlet for some of the emotional life transitions that they were going through. I have always used writing as a form of therapy. It helps me make more sense of something as I can see the words on the page. The best thing about poetry is that it doesn’t have to rhyme – it can be whatever you want it to be, because it is art.

This weekend I decided to have a marathon writing session because I am a bit behind in word count for my novel.  The one thing I always make sure to have on hand for writing is coffee and something sweet.

Delicious Pairings

The Starbucks Dark French Roast happened to be my coffee of choice for this event. I absolutely love the Starbucks line of coffee and am so glad that I can purchase the grounds from my local Walmart and brew them at home to achieve the exact same quality as I would get if I drove to Starbucks and purchased one. In fact, I actually save a lot of money in gas by doing this because I drink it so often. The Dark French Roast has a very stout flavor and is their boldest flavor. Since it is a “dark” roast, this means that they roast the beans at a temperature level that will allow them to come out with the most bold flavor, which is part of what I love about Starbuck’s brand of coffee, you know that you always get exactly what you purchase.

By itself, the coffee is divine. It is very rich and flavorful with notes of toasted nuts, caramelized sugar, and roasted vegetables. I know this sounds strange, but it is delicious. When I went shopping for the coffee I loved seeing the selection that Starbucks now has in my local Walmart. They have anything you could want from beans, to grounds, to instant. I even saw some of the instant versions of their tasty lemonades. Be sure to check out the special display at your local Walmart featuring the Starbucks brand of coffee!

I wanted to pick up a snack to pair with my coffee during my writing marathon. The Walmart Bakery offers an array of tasty treats that allow you to have a snack, for an affordable price, without having to go to the trouble of slaving away in the kitchen all afternoon. (Which I definitely didn’t have time for since it would have defeated the goal for my weekend of only writing.)

Brownies

I came home with the Turtle brownies. I am a sucker for chocolate and caramel together. Pairing the dark chocolate brownie with the dark roasted coffee was heaven. The perfect amount of sweet to bitter ratio and they complimented each other so well. In order to adequately pair chocolate and coffee, it is advised that the chocolate is at room temperature and that the coffee is freshly brewed. When drinking the coffee by itself, I noticed the rich aroma and the strong bite of the brew. I personally love this in my coffee. I tend to have more of a bitter palate than a sweet one. Next, I took a square of the turtle brownie and ate it slowly, allowing the flavors to explode in my mouth. If you have never tried pairing coffee with chocolate before, I highly recommend it. It is honestly one of the best things your taste buds will ever experience.

Turtle Brownie

It wouldn’t be Natoinal Poetry Month without celebrating by writing a poem, so since we are on the subject of coffee today, I decided to share a little something about one of my best friends, my morning coffee.

Ode To Coffee

My morning coffee, though a treat
Is anything but nice and sweet
I like caffeine to do it’s job
As I’m a bit of a coffee snob.

2 Tablespoons to brew my cup
The only thing that wakes me up
I crave the rich aroma too
But not just any cup will do.

My day begins at 8am
With a dark and roasted, faithful friend
I prefer to start my day
The loyal, good old-fashioned way.

My addiction may be obsure
But I swear to you, it’s good and pure
No, I don’t NEED coffee to survive
But it sure helps keep my brain alive.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy National Poetry Month!

How do you plan on celebrating?

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #cbias #SocialFabric

Showing More Skin This Spring #JergensNaturalGlow

Spring-Outfits

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jergens Skincare®. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Okay friends, I’ll admit now that I am a tshirt and jeans type of girl. I cannot tell you the last time that I wore a dress and I have issues with wearing tops that have a short sleeve because I hate the looks of my arms.

Mostly because my skin is so bright in the Spring that it sparkles.

Like, Edward in the sun sparkles (for all of you Twilight fans).

This year I have been applying Jergens Natural Glow products to my skin and am starting to feel a little bit better about showing my arms and legs in public. In fact, I actually purchased a dress! (I know, it’s a big step).

I had fun shopping for some new clothes and felt better about purchasing them because my skin actually compliments them. Orange is one of my favorite colors, but I never wear it because I end up looking so pale! Now, the orange compliments my skin nicely.

I also picked up several camisole tops during my shopping trip and this cute top that has short sleeves. These outfits will look great for spring.

Here are a few of the items I picked up on my last shop.

I’m excited to show you all my entire look put together in my post next month. I will combine my glowing skin (courtesy of only Jergens products), my spring outfits, and my beauty routine, and I might even sneak in a few photos of myself. :)

When you wear that perfect outfit, you look and feel radiant. With that in mind, Jergens Skincare has partnered with celebrated stylist Kate Young to create Pinterest boards of image inspiration.

Describe your style below for a chance to win $250 from Jergens to update your wardrobe!

 

It’s Easy to Share Your Purchases Visually with Finds

Finds

I participated in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the Finds mobile app. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Ever have a friend share a photo of cute new shoes with you via social media and wonder where she got them so that you can go snatch up a pair for yourself? Yeah, me too.

Well, now there is a way.

Finds

Finds is a new app that you can download on your iPhone that makes it easy to upload photos of your recent finds and share them with your friends. The best part? They scour the internet and attach a link to purchase the product if they can find one. This is awesome and I can see that it will be very useful.

I made sure my phone was upgraded to iOS6 and then downloaded the Finds app to my iPhone. Joining was simple, I just logged in with my Facebook account. It pulled over my profile photo and basic information so I didn’t have to enter anything before I could get started.

There are a few different things you can do with this app – browse finds by friends, browse all finds, add your recent purchases, and wish list items that you find that you want

Finds-Collage

I uploaded a few of the new shoes that I got at Maurices. After you upload your find, you enter the store and the product name (if you know it), a small description, and you can share it with your friends no Facebook or Twitter. I also updated my wish list and found some awesome new items that I would love to have that fellow Finds users have posted.

What I love most about this app is the fact that it has an amazing design and is very visually appealing. It is also extremely simple to use. I know that I will be using this to expand my shoe collection AND search for great new beauty products.

The best part about using Finds is that as long as you have at least 3 followers and post once a week, you are automatically entered to win a $100 Visa Debit Card! What an awesome incentive to give this free app a shot!

What feature do you think you will like best about Finds?

 

5 Tips To Maintain a Healthy Household

Washing Hands

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for LYSOL®. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Staying healthy is a priority at my house. Since I own my own business working from home, and have a toddler to watch full-time, I don’t get sick days where I can lay in bed and nurse myself back to health. I often spend enough time taking care of my family when they are ill, which is equally not fun.

Washing Hands

I’ve compiled a short list of tips I use to maintain a healthy household below.

Practice hand washing with kids.

We decided to get my daughter her own soap dispenser and have a stool next to the sink so that she can wash her hands. We practice hand washing before and after we eat, after we use the restroom, and after we come in from outside. This process is so natural to my three-year old that we almost don’t even have to remind her now. I say almost, because we all know how forgetful kids can be at times. :)

Wipe down door knobs

We have made a huge difference in eliminating the germs in our home simply by wiping down the door handles often. Especially the knobs to the bathrooms and the bedrooms. The Lysol Disinfecting Wipes make this process so easy. I just pull them out of the container, wipe, and toss.

Avoid close contact with others.

I like hugs, but not if you have a bug. We try to practice avoiding close contact with those that we know are ill and make sure to wipe down surfaces before we touch them (especially grocery store carts).

Disinfect surfaces.

Did you know that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Both are very important parts of the Lysol Healthing Initiative and to maintain a healthy household. Cleaning will remove the dirt and germs, but disinfecting surfaces can further remove the bacteria and prevent germs from transferring to other family members.

Maintain a balanced diet make sure you get enough exercise.

By getting up and moving with your family you can keep healthy! I have been exercising a lot lately and have missed the bug the past few times that my husband has gotten sick. My immune system is stronger and I feel better overall. Usually if I do fall ill, I bounce back much quicker if I am taking care of myself by eating the right foods and moving my body.

What tips do you practice to maintain a healthy household?

Lysol has partnered with Giuliana Rancic to educate YMCA’s across America about implementing healthy practices in their home. Lysol will be providing the disinfecting products and giving one family a one-year membership! To learn more about the healthing initiative, please visit their Facebook Page.

The Divine Tempest (A Scholar’s Journey) by Herrick C. Erickson-Brigl

The Divine Tempest

The Divine TempestA Scholar’s Journey: The Divine Tempest

A Scholar’s Journey: The Divine Tempest is a no-holds-barred fantasy brawl. It begins when the God of Justice and Retribution opens The Abyss and unleashes a vengeful demon upon the mortal realm of Therra.

Now it is up to scholar Penndarius Greyson and his tormented protector, martial artist Soren Luna Mortalitas, to stop a crisis that would send shockwaves through the very fabric of creation. In addition, Penndarius is waging an internal battle with a disembodied presence attempting to possess his mind. The two heroes must avoid death or capture, but there is a catch: They have only one day to solve a riddle older than history before a dark host of unstoppable demons is released into the world.

The Divine Tempest includes warring factions, betrayal and redemption, and of course, Herrick Erickson-Brigl’s trademark: epic fight scenes. This is the lean, hard-hitting first installment in a series that follows Penndarius’s growth as the avatar of the God of Creation and Soren’s reclamation of his lethal family’s humanity.

Purchase A Scholar’s Journey: The Divine Tempest on Amazon.

About Herrick C. Erickson-BriglHerrick C. Erickson-Brigl

Herrick Erickson-Brigl has been reading fantasy since he first learned to read and writing it nearly as long. While in college, Herrick’s passion for writing culminated in his first novel, entitled *A Scholar’s Journey: The Divine Tempest*. He is currently completing his second book in that series.

Follow the Author:
Website | Twitter

Kickstarter Campaign

Herrick is also kickstarting the editing for his second book “A War of Lies”
*Book Two, A War of Lies:* Three nations stand divided by a devil’s trick that will spark a war between the elder gods and their daemonic children. Penndarius and his fierce protectors travel to the fertile land of Utopia to delve deeper into Therra’s hidden past. Will the answers they find be what they are seeking, or will they reveal something much more sinister?

A War of Lies

View Herrick’s Kickstarter Page here!

Review of A Scholar’s Journey: The Divine Tempest

What a great fantasy book! The author has done an amazing job of building up the world that everything takes place in throughout The Divine TEmpest and the book flows very easily – I was able to sit down and devour it all at once.

The characters in this book were very unique. They went through both external and internal struggles, which I felt made the story. My favorite characters were definitely the twins, they were firey and really made the story. The entire book took place within one single day, but Herrick definitely packed a punch in that day and told a fantastic story.

Like many fantasy books, we are along the ride with the characters searching for the truth. The battle scenes were well written and had me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for his next one to come out. The author is a fantastic new face to the fantasy genre!

Disclosure: I was provided this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Legend of Mickey Tussler by Frank Nappi

The Legend of Mickey Tussle

The Legend of Mickey TussleIn the late 1940s, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey’s autism—a disorder still not truly understood even today—has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey’s powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.

Purchase The Legend of Mickey Tussler on Amazon.

Sophomore CampaignSophomore Campaign

It’s 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey’s proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season’s violent conclusion, his manager—and now surrogate father—Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy’s performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.

Purchase Sophomore Campaign on Amazon.

Frank NappiAbout Author Frank Nappi

Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA’s silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story “A Mile in His Shoes” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, including Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the just released thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. Frank is presently at work on a third installment of his Mickey Tussler series and his next thriller. He lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.

 

Follow Frank Nappi
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

The Legend of Mickey Tussler Review

I am an avid baseball fan, so when I first heard about this book, I knew that I had to read it. Frank Nappi does a wonderful job of painting the visual picture of the era that this story took place in. Mickey Tussler is a 17 year old autistic boy who comes with his own set of family struggles. I would have loved to see Mickey out on the mound pitching fastballs because to me, the pitcher is one of the most exciting parts of the game. But, you don’t have to be a fan of baseball to enjoy this book, because the underlying messages actually has little to do with the game.

At times, my heart wrenched for Mickey. as so many of the people in his life didn’t appreciate him. Frank Nappi does a phenomenal job of making me feel like I was inside the story and knew the characters well. This story is just as much about the behavior that humans exhibit during different scenarios as it was about baseball. Once I started reading, I could not put this book down and I am very excited to read the second one next.

I feel like Nappi knows a great deal about baseball and really enjoyed his narrative skills during the games. After all, it is baseball season right now and I have been catching every game I can on the radio, because that is how I grew up listening to them with my Grandfather. This story became special to me because I felt I had a personal connection to it. I can’t wait to see what happens in Book 2! I highly recommend any novels that Frank Nappi write. He is a wonderful writer and can really tell a great story.

Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and that of my own.

 

Spring is Coming… Eventually. It’s Time To Visit The Garden Club

Flower

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.

I know it seems like Spring keeps peeking it’s head out and running back in to hide lately here in the Midwest, but eventually, it will be here to stay. I am chomping at the bit to start working on some new home DIY projects. Last year I planted a few flowers and added a bird feeder to our backyard, but this year I am planning to turn my focus on making our yard visually appealing. The drought we suffered from in Nebraska last year really did a number on our yard.

Flower

I hope that you all will join me on my Spring DIY journey with The Home Depot! I’ve been checking out all of the great projects on The Home Depot Garden Club website. This is a fantastic community that offers great benefits for members.

What am I most excited about? The ability to have access to experts who know about the weather conditions in my local area and can help guide me accordingly. The first few years that I lived in Nebraska I failed miserably when it came to planting flowers. It is very windy here, and therefore also very dry. Anything I planted either got blown away, or died if I missed watering it for a few days.

We also don’t have much in our backyard. I mentioned that we added a bird feeder last year, but that is it. We purchased a new home in 2008 and ended up with a bare canvas for a yard. We haven’t done any landscaping even. This is the year for outdoor projects, and the Garden Club is going to be an amazing asset to have access to. I can’t wait to get started!

THD Orange Logo

When you sign up for The Home Depot Garden Club, you will receive some great discounts. Members get over $300 worth of exclusive savings and an inside look at all of the new and exciting projects. You also will get access to how-to videos, spring project ideas, and $5 off of your next garden purchase worth $50 or more.

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need for spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, The Home Depot has you covered and can help you #DigIn to Spring.

Spring is the perfect time for all your outdoor home renovations. Shop The Home Depot for terrific values on new patio furniture, landscape supplies such as fertilizer and potting soil and outdoor grills. Keep your lawn and garden looking great, too, with the huge selection of lawn mowers, edgers and trimmers, and garden tools.

Visit The Home Depot Garden Club for product ideas from kick-starting your Spring with seed starter kits to building a window birdfeeder.

What spring DIY projects are you most looking forward to? Or, are you just looking forward to Spring finally being here?

Sunless Tanning Solutions: How I Maintain a Natural Glow

Jergens

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jergens Skincare®. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

I was just complaining of how pale and pasty my skin looked a few weeks back and one of my friends from the East Coast tells me, “Well of course, you are from the Midwest.” Sadly, the truth is that during the spring our weather is so sporadic that it’s hard to get much sunshine.

I personally lather up in sunscreen when I go outdoors these days. My skin burns very easily. But, one of the things I’ve always done is to use a self-tanner to get a natural glow.

I’ve tried many brands, some with much better results than others. The only one that I have used and trust to give me a natural glow gradually is Jergens.

I once used a sunless tanner and ended up with orange streaks down the fronts of my legs. I spent several days trying home remedies to remove them. My legs were raw and my patience was thin, but my husband seemed to get a nice kick out of it. :)

Now, Jergens is my go to brand for products to give me a natural glow. I will be using the products shown below for the next three months to give my skin a little bit of color before I get outdoors this summer. One thing that excites me is that these products contain sunscreen, so they are also protecting my skin while they work!

NEW Jergens® Natural Glow Moisturizer provides the same great, natural-looking color but without the sunless tanner odor!

Share your embarrassing tanning story for your chance to win a $250 Visa gift card.

 

Motivational #Quotes

Motivational Quote

I wanted to put together a list of motivational quotes to get myself back in gear. I have several goals set for both my personal and professional life this year. But, with the huge goals that I have set for myself, I’m going to need to keep up my motivation so that I can achieve them all! I’ve put together a fun list of motivational quotes to look at today and thought I would share them with you too! Enjoy!

Motivational QuoteSource: sweetsonofabitch.tumblr.com

Motivational Quote

Source: projectexcellence.tumblr.com
 Motivational Quotes

Source: evokingyou.com 
 Motivational Quotes

Source: timmcfarlane.tumblr.com
 

Do you have big goals for this year also? Let’s help support and motivate each other!

Shepherd’s Pie: Velveeta Cheesy Casseroles Dinner Kit

ShepardsPie

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Velveeta via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Velveeta.

Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorite casserole dishes. I love the combination of the ground beef with the mashed potatoes on top. It’s the best comfort food. Ever.

ShepherdsPie

Velveeta has just come out with Cheesy Casserole Dinner Kits that provide us ingredients to make some of our favorites the quick and easy way. I am all about quick and easy. This entire meal only took about 40 minutes from start to finish.

Velveeta

In the box, you get potato flakes for the mashed potatoes, seasoning mix, vegetables (carrots and peas), and the Velveeta cheese. With just a few additional ingredients, and a very easy assembly process, the Shepherd’s Pie was made and ready to eat. I added ground beef, a can of corn, and used some milk and butter in the preparation process.

Cooking

Once the beef mixture is made, you layer it in a 8×8 casserole dish.

Shepherd's Pie Hamburger

While I was doing this, I was also making the mashed potatoes in the microwave. I layered the hamburger mixture, the Velveeta cheese, and spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top.

ShepherdsPie

This dinner kit makes approximately 4 1/2 servings, which is perfect for our family of 3. It ensures we usually have a little bit left over for lunch the next day.

Now that I’ve had this dinner kit, I can’t wait to try out the other two!

What are some of your favorite easy meals to prepare for dinner?

AuthorLogo

New Velveeta Cheesy Casseroles. Liquid Gold is now available in three oven-baked varieties: Chicken Pot Pie, Shepherd’s Pie and Chili Cornbread. Like us on Facebook, at Facebook.com/Velveeta.

 

20 Minutes or Less: Taco Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Taco Mac and Cheese

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kraft via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kraft.

Sometimes as moms we have limited time to cook meals, and I am all about things that can be made quick and easy. Today, I want to share a recipe that I’ve been making for a while now to “dress up” a regular boxed macaroni and cheese! It is very simple and definitely fits in the 20 minutes or less category.

Taco Mac and Cheese

This recipe is quick, delicious, and can be made to fit any person’s tastes. If you like tacos, and macaroni and cheese, you are sure to love them combined!

Taco Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • i Box Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (Blue Box)
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • ½ Pound Hamburger
  • ½ Packet of Taco Seasoning
  • ⅓ Cup Water
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Shredded Taco Cheese
  • Chives
Instructions
  1. Brown ½ pound of hamburger and drain.
  2. Add taco seasoning and approximately ⅓ cup water and stir.
  3. Prepare Kraft Macaroni and Cheese by the instructions on the box. After noodles are drained, add milk, butter, and cheese. You will notice in the recipe that I use half the amount of butter they call for in the standard macaroni and cheese recipe. This is just for personal taste.
  4. Combine the macaroni and cheese and hamburger mixture and stir.
  5. Place in bowl and top with shredded cheese, chives, and tortilla chips.
Notes
You can also add onions, lettuce, tomato, or salsa to this mixture as you like. Turn it into a dip by adding some taco sauce and serving with sour cream or guacamole.

 

Kraft

Gooey, Creamy delicious KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese. You know you love it. Youknowyouloveit.com

 

Evil on the Peace River by Beverly Lein

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Evil on the Peace RiverEvil on the Peace River

There’s no name for the kind of evil that’s taken a foothold in the hills…

The calmness of the community is reflected in its name. Peace River is the kind of small town you read about: where everyone knows your name; where neighbours look out for each other; and where the toughest kind of criminal you’re likely to come across is a lone horse thief.

But a cold wind has blown into the Peace—as the locals call it—one that takes the form of two psychopaths whose consciences are guided only by their own twisted desires. Bent on wreaking as much carnage as possible while they line their pockets, two brothers terrorize the normally quiet Northern Alberta community.

Their deadly rampage gathers steam and cutting a bloody swath across the hills. It’s a deadly game of ‘hunt to kill’, as police struggle to stem the tide of bodies the brothers leave in their wake.

Purchase Evil on the Peace River:
Inkwater Press | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Powells

About Author Beverly LeinBeverly Lein

Beverly Lein was born in Manning, Alberta, and raised in nearby Sunny Valley on her father’s farm with her three sisters and two brothers. Her hobbies have always included writing stories, songs, and poems. Before raising elk with her husband Carson on their own ranch, Lein worked as a cook, a farmer, a retailer, and a small business owner. A proud mother of two and grandmother of five, Lein’s life also requires her to be a veterinarian, a midwife, and an elk counsellor- depending on what the day brings. Beverly is the author of three books, An Elk in the Houseby NeWest Press, The Three Saints of Christmas, Wolf Spirit: The Story of Moon Beam.and Evil on the Peace River, all published by Inkwater Books.

On the writing process…
“Too many people don’t realize that they have awesome gifts inside of them and one of those might be being able to tell a story. So find a quiet place and sit down and start to write. Everyone has a story to tell. Maybe you can’t write the story because you are letting the fear of bad grammar hold you back. But that’s why you find a great editor to work with. What’s important is to write to the best of your ability. People can help you fix errors later!”

Follow Beverly Lein:
Website | Facebook

Chronicles of Trellah: The Perpetual Rain by T.S. Graham

The-Chronicles-of-Trellah

The-Chronicles-of-Trellah“The World’s Toughest Book Critics” have weighed in, and it’s high praise for Trellah!
“An excellent choice for readers eager for a suspenseful, emotionally satisfying fantasy adventure.”
-Kirkus Book Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Sophina Murray will be the first to tell you: Bad luck comes in threes. First, her father is lost at sea. Then, the rains start . And don’t stop. And finally, her little brother
is taken from his bed by a monster straight from her worst nightmare. A glimpse into the parallel universe of Trellah – a land of giant trees, bizarre creatures, and a glowing red mineral with mystical properties – convinces Sophina that all may not be lost. But first, she’ll have to survive in a hostile world where her darkest fears live and breathe.
Trellah is an original and realistic fantasy for ages 12 to 112. Parental guidance suggested for advanced readers ages 10-11 for moderate elements of horror.
The upcoming deluxe edition of this book will include illustrated paintings by artist Ryan Penney. Below is a sample of this talented artist’s work.

TheChroniclesOfTrellah

Purchase this book on Amazon.

About Author T.S. Graham

T.S. Graham was born and raised in midcoast Maine. He has worked as a sea urchin diver, fish monger, home renovator, and in several group homes for children and adults with disabilities. His original screenplay, Stone’s Point, written as Clint Elliott, has won multiple awards. He studied English Literature at the University of Southern Maine, where, despite developing a strong dislike of the traditional curriculum focused on old, dead (and boring) scribes, he somehow managed to graduate with honors. His greatest influences are writers like Stephen King and Michael Crichton, whose talents would have allowed them to write more literary fare, but they chose to thrill and entertain instead. He now lives on a horse farm with his beautiful wife and five daughters, two poodles, two cats, two happy turtles, four playful ferrets, three fish, a corn snake named “Tiger,” dozens of chickens, and, of course, four awesome equines. The Chronicles of Trellah, Book One: The Perpetual Rain is his debut novel.

Follow T.S. Graham
Website | Facebook | GoodReads

Review:

This book was fantastic and I finished it very quickly. It is a young-adult fantasy that is suitable for adults who love fantasy as well. The story line pulled me in quickly as I read about Sophina and her journey. This character was very strong despite everything that has occurred in her life.

T.S. Graham did an amazing job building this fantasy world. I felt like I was there. The town was mystical and I enjoyed meeting several of the creatures within it.

I’m very excited that there is going to be more books in this series because I want more! Highly recommend!

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Disclosure: This book was provided to me in order to conduct my review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and that of my own.