Saturday, December 31, 2011

Giveaway: McCormick's Big Cookie Share and "The Treats Truck Baking Book"

Using to choose my winner, comment #5 was chosen as the winner!  Congrats to TCC!!!

I enjoy trying new recipes and I enjoy eating a tasty cookie from time to time!  So, I was really excited when my friends from McCormick contacted me to see if I wanted to participate in trying out some new cookies recipes created by them and Kim Ima.  McCormick sent me Kim Ima's new book, "The Treats Truck Baking Book" as well as three new recipes that I could choose from.  Although these recipes are not in her book, the recipes that are found in her book are recipes that Kim sells on her "Treats Truck" in New York City.

I decided to try the Little Peppermint Crispy Rice Squares, and I was not disappointed with the recipe.  This new recipe is a minty twist on a classic crispy treat recipe...and I liked it better!  If you have leftover candy canes from the holidays, you will want to try this recipe!

Little Peppermint Crispy Rice Squares
Prep Time: 25 minutes

4 tablespoons butter
10 ounces mini marshmallows
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Peppermint Extract
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
3 coarsely crushed candy canes

1.      Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease an 8x8-inch or 9x9-inch pan. 
2.      Melt the 3 tablespoons butter in a big pot over low heat. When the butter has melted enough to coat the bottom of the pot, add the marshmallows. Stir often until melted, then remove from the heat. Add peppermint extract and stir well. 
3.      Pour the rice cereal, white chocolate chips and 2 crushed candy canes into the pot and stir until the marshmallows and other ingredients are mixed together. 
4.      Use a bowl scraper or spatula to get the mixture into the greased pan. Pat into place. Use buttered hands or buttered spatula to press into the pan. 
5.      Garnish with 1 crushed candy cane to create a festive look. 
6.      Let mixture set for at least 15 minutes. Cut into five rows of five, and once removing from the pan, also slice the pieces to half the thickness to make little peppermint squares the ideal size for including in holiday cookie gift baskets or boxes. (I liked them "thin" - such a great idea!)
 Makes 50 servings.

McCormick's Big Cookie Share (EDIT - the "Big Cookie Share" is no longer taking place as of 1/3/12)
You can also participate in McCormick's "Big Cookie Share" on Facebook.  You can create a delicious cookie and then spread the love to family and friends!  It is simple to do - simply follow these steps:
2. CLICK  on “The Big Cookie Share” tab, then choose a McCormick virtual cookie and frost it with a personalized message.  
3. ADD flavor to the McCormick Kitchens recipe with additions like cranberries, nuts or almond extract.  
4. SHARE your e-cookie and its recipe with a special someone or all your Facebook friends

If you like to make cookies (and pies, cakes, etc.), then you would LOVE this book!  I am so excited to try all of the recipes that are in this book!  Would you like to win "The Treats Truck Baking Book" by Kim Ima?  McCormick will be giving away a book to one of my lucky readers!  All you have to do is enter the giveaway!

To Enter:
1. Leave a comment and tell me what your favorite cookie is = 1st entry
2. Go to Kim Ima's website, look at the treats that are offered on her menu and leave a comment telling me which one(s) you would order and eat! = 2nd entry
3. Participate in McCormick's "Big Cookie Share" on Facebook.  After you send your cookie(s), leave a comment here = 3rd entry. (EDIT - the "Big Cookie Share" is no longer taking place as of 1/3/12)
4. This giveaway is open to all those living in the US.
5. This giveaway will end on January 5th at 9pm.  I will choose a winner randomly and will notify the winner.  Please be sure that I have a way to contact you if you do win!

I am looking forward to an amazing 2012!  Happy New Year to you!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Countdown

As I mentioned in this post, we are celebrating the advent season with learning more about the Names and God and also having some fun family activities!  Yesterday was fun, but I am going to revamp how I present the information to my boys.  They were so excited to get to the activity that it took longer than I thought to discuss the name of God and read in the Bible.  I will keep trying to do it a little differently until I see what works best for my 3 and 5 year old!

I also made a paper chain countdown for each of my boys...which inspired my sons to make paper chains of their own!  Their creations are hanging above our front door!  I found the paper chain countdown idea that I made here on Make and Takes.
Can you tell that it is a Christmas tree?

I probably will make the loops a little shorter and wider next time.  I would suggest a 1 1/2 in width...and maybe play with the length a little bit.  I am not sure about that!  I thought that it came out cute! I added the numbers on each loop, because I thought it would be a great way to determine which chain to tear off.  My 3 year old did NOT want to tear off the first chain!  I had to help him.  I think that he is upset that we will be taking it least that is the way it was last night!  I am sure that he will have fun with it as the month continues!

I need to finish prepping for tonight's activities!  More on that later!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our Advent Plans for 2011

Today marks the first day of the beginning of our Advent season.  As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus, Dawson and I wanted our family to learn more about God and also have some family fun.  As I prayed about it and searched the Internet, I came up with the following ideas that we will do each day:

1. The Names and/or Attributes of God.  Each day, the boys will open up a box and will find an ornament (made from chipboard - real simple) with a name or attribute of God.  We will read scriptures from the Bible that mentions that attribute and then we will do a craft or activity that surrounds the meaning of that name.  The information that I used, I found here, however I did change some of the crafts a little bit.

Today, we will focus on "Almighty" God, we will read Gen 17:1-3; Gen. 15:5; Gen. 35:11 and Ps. 90:1-2.  For our craft, I glued yellow popsicle sticks together to form a star - and the kids will decorate it with glitter glue.

2. Fun Family Activities.  After we learn about a name or attribute of God, the boys will then take out a slip of paper that lists a fun family activity that we will do together.  I first found this idea on Simple Mom's blog.  She posted a Christmas Countdown, and I thought it was a great idea.  I have changed the activities a little bit to suit what we will be doing this month, but her list was a great place to begin thinking about what I wanted our family to do!

So what will our family be doing today?  We will be decorating the Christmas tree (which the boys have been looking forward to doing) while listening to Christmas music!  It will be followed by sipping some hot chocolate!

I will be sharing more of what we are going to be doing this month in another post!  I hope that you are having a wonderful time with your family!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Preparing for the Advent Season

Advent is almost upon fact, it starts tomorrow for us.  I know that for some, advent has already begun (November 27th), but here in our house, we will begin tomorrow...December 1st!

So, I am busy trying to get everything together!  I am planning to do something each day to focus on God, we have a countdown that I have made for the boys, and then we will do a fun activity too!  I will be sharing what I am doing soon!

What do you do to celebrate the advent season?  Are you ready for it?  Are you still preparing?  Please share what you plan to do with your family this year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Carmex Healing Lotion and Cream: Review and Giveaway

Have you ever had dry, cracking skin on your hands during the winter months?  I have, and I really do not enjoy it!  I was pretty excited when Carmex contacted me to sample and review their Healing Lotion and Healing Cream!  I was REALLY excited when I received my package in the mail to find a full size and a travel size of each type!  That meant that I could keep the full size in my bedroom and bring the travel size tubes with me wherever I go!

I have used the products for a few weeks.  They have a light scent and go on smoothly without leaving a greasy feeling behind.  They worked great when I needed a little bit of moisture added to my hands.  However, when my hands became really dry, I do not feel like the healing cream was rich enough to give my knuckles the moisture that they needed...I felt like I needed to add some of the other lotions that I regularly use on my knuckles in order to give them the moisture that they needed.

So, would I use the lotion and cream again?  Yes, I would.  However, if my hands and knuckles became really dry, I would have to reach for another type of lotion.

This lotion may work differently for each person - would you like to try it out for yourself?  You do?  Great!  You can win the exact package of goodies that I received - one full size and one travel size of the Carmex Healing Lotion and Healing Cream!

Enter the Giveaway Now:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post for one entry - tell me what your favorite lotion is!
2. Facebook about this giveaway, and then leave another comment telling me that you did it!
3. Be sure that there is a way that I am able to contact you, in case you are chosen as the winner!
4. This giveaway will close on Saturday, December 3rd at 9pm EST.
5. This giveaway is only open to residents of the USA.

Note:  Although I was given a free sample of the Carmex healing lotion and healing cream, all thoughts are completely my own!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Broken Nails

When I came home from shopping the other day, I noticed that one of my fingernails had broken off!  Do you know what thoughts came to my mind???  Well, I will let you in on how my mind processes things:

1. How did I not realize that happened? (Because all of the white broke off!)  My nails were looking so, not so much!

2. My DNA is somewhere!  What if someone commits a crime at the store that I was in...they could find my fingernail and place me there...not that it matters for me - but it is just weird to think that my DNA is laying around somewhere!  I guess it is the biologist in me...and/or I have watched many CSI shows...or both - take your pick!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Winner: Freschetta Pizza Giveaway

And the winner is.....

#8 commenter: The Gang's Momma!  Congratulations!!!

You still have a few days to purchase a  Freschetta pizza and enter the code on their website Freschetta Proud to Support Pink Program!  For each entry,  Freschetta pizza will donate $1 to help fund breast cancer research.  I am going to enter my code tonight!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Eat Pizza, Support Breast Cancer, and a Giveaway!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Many companies are doing their part to raise money to support breast cancer research.  The Freschetta company is presenting the Freschetta Proud to Support Pink Program.  They have a goal of making a $50,000 donation to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  Of course, you, the consumer play a part in Freschetta reaching their goal.  How can you help?  From now until October 31st, purchase a specially marked package of Freschetta Pizzas and Artisan Pizza Crusts (use the $1 coupon found on their site) and enter your code on the Proud to Support Pink website.  For every code that is entered, Freschetta will donate $1, and you will be entered to win a pink iPOD shuffle - they are giving away 50 each week to those who enter a code...and each week 50 pink iPOD shuffles will be donated to four cancer centers around America for breast cancer patients to use during their treatments.  I think that this is a great and easy way to help and support breast cancer research!  Even if you only purchase one pizza and enter your code online, you will make a difference in someone's life.

One of my readers will receive a coupon for a FREE Freschetta pizza PLUS two free pairs of Freschetta Proud to Support Pink earphones - one to keep and one to share with a friend as a reminder of proactive health.
One winner will receive this gift pack!

The Rules to Enter the Giveaway:
1. Leave a comment on my blog telling me what your favorite pizza topping is!  (entry #1)
2. Gain a second entry by sharing this giveaway on facebook - be sure to come back and leave a comment telling me that you "facebooked it"
3. Please be sure that I have a way to contact you, if you are the winner
4. All comments will be closed at 10pm EST on Saturday, October 29th!

Be proactive and be sure to do your monthly self breast exam - it could save your life!

Note: The makers of Freschetta Pizza contacted me and provided a free coupon and earphones for me to review and keep!  However, all opinions and thoughts are strictly my own!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Exciting Things Happening!

I am excited about a few things that will be coming up...

TWO giveaways that I will be hosting - if you like pizza and soft hands, then you will most likely enjoy the giveaways that are coming VERY soon!!!

Yum, yum!!!

My hands definitely need TLC in the winter - perfect timing!

 I am also going to be able to meet someone from the "blog-world" - I have been following her blog for a few years and I am really excited about that...more about that when I am able to give details!

The giveaways are coming soon!  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Sis!

Happy Birthday to one of the people that I have known my entire life - My SISTER!!!  You are so special to me and many people around you!  I hope that you have a blessed day and many more decades to come!

I love you very much and am so thankful that we live so close to each other that we can celebrate YOU together!  Happy Birthday!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Winner: Carmex Giveaway

Congratulations to commenter #3!!!

CONGRATS to TCC - you are the winner!

I will be contacting you to gather your mailing information!  Enjoy your Carmex Prize package!

If you did not win, you can request to win a sample on their website - check it out here!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Carmex: Review and Giveaway

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out two new lip moisturizers that are made by Carmex: Carmex Lime Twist Stick and Carmex Vanilla Stick.  I did not know what to expect because I have tried Carmex in the past and I found that it actually caused my lips to become chapped!  However, I was willing to put the lip moisturizers to the test and see how my lips responded.

I tried each of the sticks for about one week each and I have to say that I loved the scent of each of them, they moisturized my lips, and I would definitely recommend them to someone who was looking to try a new lip moisturizer.  If I had to choose one as my favorite, it would be the Lime Twist Stick.  I enjoyed the citrus scent a little more than the vanilla, although they were both very nice.

Would you like a chance to try out the lip moisturizers too?  If you do, then you can enter the giveaway on my blog that is sponsored by Carmex!  You will receive everything that is pictured in the photo - the blanket too!

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is:
1. Leave a comment and tell me what lip balm you currently use.
2. This giveaway will end on Monday, September 5th at 9pm – so be sure to enter soon!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Update: 100 Books in 100 Days

This summer has definitely turned out different than what I had originally planned back in May.  I completed 2 weeks of the "home camp" ideas that I found over at  "Life as Mom".  I was having so much fun planning the units and working on the projects that the kids and I were doing, but "things" happened this summer and the ideas that I had for the summer had to change a little bit too.  I did not continue the themes that I had planned for about 8 weeks of the summer, and I know that I can continue with those ideas when the timing is right.  One thing that did not change was reading books with the kids.

We LOVE to read in our house.  So, I came up with an idea to complete this summer that I called "100 books and 100 days."  I challenged myself (and Dawson) to read 100 books to our kids - who are 3 and 5 - in 100 days.  Back in May, I had listed 16 of the books that made it on to this list.  I have not blogged too much this summer, so I have not had a chance to update the number of books that we have read...and August 31st, the 100th day, will be here before you know it!

I have to admit...I don't think that every book that we have read to them has made it on to this list, however, every LIBRARY book that we have read together or every book that we listed for our library summer reading has made it on to the list.  

Below is the updated list of books that we have read to our boys this summer:

  1. Down by the Bay  by Raffi
  2. Puppy Mudge Takes a Bath by Cynthia Rylant
  3. Bounce by Doreen Cronin
  4. Rainbow Fish by Finds His Way by Marcus Pfister
  5. Swimming by Leo Lionni
  6. Hungry, Hungry Sharks by Joanna Cole
  7. Whales and Dolphins by Peter and Connie Roop
  8. Rainbow Fish to the Rescue by Marcus Pfister
  9. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin
  10. Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin
  11. Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack by Doreen Cronin
  12. A Busy Day at the Farm by Doreen Cronin
  13. Thump, Quack, Moo: a Whacky Adventure by Doreen Cronin
  14. In the Garden: Who's Been Here? By Lindsay Barrett George
  15. Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski
  16. Big Chickens Fly the Coop by Leslie Helakoski
  17. Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter
  18. Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
  19. Funny Farm by Mark Teague
  20. Hurry! Hurry! By Eve Bunting
  21. The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
  22. Spot Goes to the Farm by Eric Hill
  23. The Cow Who Clucked by Denise Fleming
  24. On the Farm by David Elliott
  25. A Surprise Garden by Disney
  26. Tiny on the Farm by Cari Meister
  27. Apples by Gail Gibbons
  28. Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
  29. Apples by Gail Gibbons
  30. Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  31. A Lion Named Shirley Williamson by Bernard Waber
  32. The Berenstein Bears Down on the Farm by Stan and Jan Berenstein
  33. The Fish who Cried Wolf by Julia Donaldson
  34. Birthday Zoo by Lynn Munsinger
  35. The Bear went over the Mountain by Rosemary Wells
  36. Grandfather's Dream by Holly Keller
  37. My Mommy and Me by Laura Trayser
  38. Open Wide by Laurie Keller
  39. Finding Nemo
  40. Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson
  41. Stop Thief by Robert Kalan
  42. A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
  43. ABC Safari by Karen Lee
  44. Safari Animals by Missy Kavanaugh
  45. I Went Walking by Sue Williams
  46. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (we have read this many times...but it still counts!)
  47. Ten Apples up on the Top by Dr. Seuss
  48. Doggies by Sandra Boynton
  49. Bounce Around, Tigger
  50. Mama, Mama by Jean Marzollo
  51. What did you Say? By Mandy Stanley
  52. Can't you sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell
  53. I Love you, Little One by Nancy Tafuri
  54. Bears in the Forrest by Karen Wallace
  55. Buginnings: Colors by Max Lucado
  56. The Big Red Blanket
  57. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  58. Coyote and the Laughing Butterfly by Harriet Peck Taylor
  59. Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat by Cynthia Rylant
  60. My Dog Talks by Gail Herman
  61. Henry and Mudge and the Tumbling Trip by Cynthia Rylant
  62. Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears by Cynthia Rylant
  63. Henry and Mudge in the Family Trees by Cynthia Rylant
  64. Dinosaur by Peter Sis
  65. What Do You Say When a Monkey Acts this Way? By Jane Belk Moncure
  66. Mabela the Clever Retold by Margaret Read MacDonald
  67. Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch by Cynthia Rylant
  68. Where's My Teddy? By Jez Alborough

I am really excited to see that we have already read (at least) 84 books to our kids this summer...and this does not include the Bible stories that we read to our kids from the children's Bibles!  We will definitely meet and exceed our goal of 100 books!

Do you read with your kids during the summer?  Do your kids read on their own?  Do you do a little of both?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grab Your Free Slice of Pizza!

Who wouldn't want a free slice of pizza?  Well, FRESCHETTA® will be giving away thousands of slices of their "By The Slice" pizza in a special live online event.  Although I have not tried one of their pizzas by the slice, I did see it in the frozen section of grocery store last weekend and I would enjoy trying it for free!  The FRESCHETTA® By The Slice pizza will be given away in 5,000 increments every half hour. There will also be fun, interactive contests where you can win additional coupons. 

How can you get in on this deal?  Read on for the details!

Date: August 4th, 2011

What: FREE FRESCHETTA® By The Slice pizza event (while supplies last) 

Where: From the comfort of your own home

Details: visit to see if you are able to snag a slice!  

Remember, this event will be going on all day on August 4th - check back every half hour for a chance to win! Good Luck!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Few Rambling Thoughts...

There are so many things that I could write about - so many things that have been happening I figured that I would write a little bit about what's been going on...

1. Vacation was great and I should write more about it  :)

2. I have caught up with my laundry this week!  Which is pretty good since we got home last Sunday from an 8 day family vacation!

3. I have a bunch of clothes to put away in storage that are waiting for the younger boy to grow into...and some that are out of season...they are in my bedroom at the moment, and really don't belong there.

4. Dawson and I "found our garage" as my neighbor put it.  We took everything out of our 1 car garage, got rid of a bunch of stuff, put things where they really belong, and we realize that we still don't have room for our car because of the boys' scooters, big wheels and bikes...that kind of makes me laugh.

5. I have started to exercise regularly - meaning daily, and it feels good.

6. I am trying to be more conscious about what I am eating - and that feels good too.

7. Getting to bed earlier has been helping me to wake up earlier and have some time to do things before the boys wake up and that has been usually includes starting a load of laundry, exercising, emptying the dish washer, showering and just getting the day started!

Well, there is more that is going on, but I really need to get to that I can start my day early-ish tomorrow!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Winner of McCormick Recipe Inspirations World Flavor Line Giveaway

Thank you to all who entered the McCormick Recipe Inspirations giveaway sponsored by McCormick Spices!

I used to choose a number and comment #2 won....again!  Last time I had a giveaway, it chose #2 also!

CONGRATULATIONS to Nonya who won the McCormick Recipe Inspirations World Flavor Line giveaway!  I will be contacting you soon to get your information!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Giveaway: McCormick Recipe Inspirations World Flavor Line

I was a little skeptical at first.  Buying prepackaged spices that will be used in one meal.  Ummm, I think that I would rather spend that $1.99 on a new bottle of some sort of spice...or at least part of a bottle!  Those were my initial thoughts when I first heard about McCormick Recipe Inspirations.  However, when I was contacted to try out some of these recipes (courtesy of McCormick) I decided to give these little packets a chance.

For $1.99, you receive a packet that has all of the spices measured out that will be used for the specific recipe that is given on the back of the package.  On the back of the package, you can see the whole recipe, what the package includes and what you will need to buy (or have on hand) to make the recipe.  The back of the package is actually a recipe card that will tear off so that you can replicate the recipe again, even if you do not buy the spice packet again (it lists the amounts of each pre-measured spice included).  I really liked that aspect of it.

I was given 6 recipe packets to try out and some fun music to listen to!  So far, I have tried the Chicken Cacciatore.  I did enjoy using the pre-measured spices and the recipe was SO DELICIOUS!!!!  It was the BEST Chicken Cacciatore recipe that I have ever tasted.  I grew up only knowing chicken cacciatore that was made in the slow cooker, and it was not my favorite recipe.  So, would I buy these spices in the store?

In certain circumstances, I would consider purchasing one of the McCormick Recipe Inspirations.  If I had a busy week and needed a quick meal, or if I did not plan for dinner one night and found myself in the grocery store thinking - "WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE FOR DINNER TONIGHT?!?!?!?,"  I would be happy to easily fine a recipe that sounds delicious, and part of it is already measured out.  I would have to pick up the rest of the ingredients, but since I had the recipe in my hand, I would not forget to pick up an ingredient!

Now, for the giveaway!  Would you like to try out the new McCormick Recipe Inspirations?  If you would like to receive these new packets and some fun music and a world map, then why not enter this giveaway!

Rules of the giveaway:
1. Leave a comment and tell me which herb/spice you like to cook with the most!  (This giveaway is open to all USA residents.)
2. This giveaway will be open until Saturday, June 4th!  At around 9 pm, I will close the comments and randomly choose a winner.  The winner will receive everything that is pictured below, courtesy of McCormick!
3. Be sure that I am able to contact you if you are chosen as my winner!
This box of goodies could be yours!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

100 Books in 100 Days

Brady finished preschool last Thursday, so summer vacation has already started in this neck of "the woods".  I wanted to make this summer really special for my family and wanted to intentionally plan some activities for the boys and myself to do.   So, we have started this week "strong" and I hope to continue with this same gusto as the summer continues!

Last summer we had season passes to a local amusement park, and we definitely got our money's worth from those passes, but this year we chose not to purchase those passes.  We decided that we wanted to explore other places without having the thought, "but we have season passes, let's just go there!"  I am not saying that it is "bad" to have a season pass to anything; we just wanted to try something different this year (and we will probably get season passes again next year - because we did have a LOT of fun!).

So, what is on our plate this summer?  I don't have it all laid out yet, but I do know that it will include some "themed" weeks, bowling, watching some free movies, going to story-time at the library, swimming at my sister's house, playdates, soccer camp, and going on various "field trips".

I got the idea of having themed weeks over at "Life as Mom"  - she creates a "home camp" for her kids and calls it "Camp Wannlaffalotta."  I am using some of her ideas as a springboard for use with my own kids.  This week, we focused on the "Oceans of Fun" theme.  We have checked out LOADS of books from the library, made many crafts, had fun with food and watched a few videos!  It has been a lot of fun, and I have been pretty flexible about it too.

We have SO many library books in our house - some from this week's theme and some for next week's theme.  When I was looking at all of these books, I said to myself, I bet that we will read over 100 100 days.  Today is day 4, and day 100 will be August 31st.  I figured that I would make it easy on myself as far as the ending point to my 100 days...and that is how I chose the beginning date...and it really does not completely matter, because I am sure that we will read 100 books before August 31st anyway!

Here are some of the books that we have read so far this week - and notice that they are not all ocean themed:

  1. Henry and Mudge and the Tall Tree House by Cynthia Rylant
  2. Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble by Cynthia Rylant
  3. Disney's the Aristocats
  4. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
  5. 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle
  6. Duck, Duck, Goose by Tad Hills
  7. Yummiest Love by Lisa McCourt
  8. Otter on His Own: the Story of a Sea Otter by Doe Boyle
  9. Sailor Moo: Cow at Sea by Lisa Wheeler
  10. Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
  11. Exploring the Deep Dark Sea by Gail Gibbons
  12. Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea   by Marcus Pfister
  13. Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale by Marcus Pfister
  14. The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole
  15. Pickles to Pittsburgh by Judi Barrett
  16. The Marshmallow Incident by Judi Barrett

We are well on our way to 100 books!

So, what are you doing this summer?

Friday, May 27, 2011

WINNER for Spring Brunch Anyone?

Thank you to all who entered the Spring Brunch Giveaway, sponsored by McCormick Spices!

I used to choose a number and comment #2 won....

CONGRATULATIONS to TCC who won the Spring Brunch Giveaway!  I will be contacting you soon to get your information!

If you did not win this week's giveaway, stay tuned for another giveaway coming soon, also sponsored by McCormick!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Giveaway: Spring Brunch Anyone?

I was SO excited when I was contacted to participate in a Spring Brunch Program sponsored by McCormick.  I  enjoy cooking and I already use McCormick spices, so this was right up  my alley!  When I opened the box that arrived on my doorstep, I found all of the spices and food coloring that you see below!  Pretty amazing!  Although I have not had the time to host a Spring Brunch yet at my house...I am looking forward to using these spices in some yummy recipes that my family will enjoy!  There are a few recipes that look delicious on McCormick's website which include, Spiced Springtime Sugar Cookies and Cheesy Bacon and Egg Casserole or maybe this Stuffed French Toast!  Plus, I have quite a few other recipes that make good use of the spices that were sent to me...I am excited to get into the kitchen and cook!

Would you like to receive this same package of spices on your doorstep?

If you said yes, then leave a comment on my blog and tell me which of these spices you use regularly/most often. I will close the comments on Friday, May 27th at 9pm and then I will randomly choose a winner!  Please be sure that I am able to contact you if you are chosen as the winner!  Comments left on facebook do not count as an entry.

Update: Blogger is seeming to have problems with allowing people to leave a comment on blogs at the moment.  I am not sure what they are going to do to fix it yet, so if you would like to leave a comment, please hang on while we see what is going on!  You can try leaving your name and url if you would like - I have heard that it might work that way....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Crest Pro-Health Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway that I held for the Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean toothpaste and mouthwash.  I chose the winner randomly using, and the winning entry was #5.

Congratulations to Uniquely Me!!!!!  I will be in contact with you soon!

Stay tuned for more giveaways coming your way soon!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean

Things have been a little busy around here with parties to plan and parties to go to, and changing our diet to one that is more healthy, so blogging has not been at the top of my list of things to do.  However, taking care of my teeth does not get pushed aside during these busy times.  It definitely stays on my list of things to do! Enough dental work has taken place over the years, and I am really trying to take better care of my teeth! (Wish I did that when I was younger!  Oh well - you live and learn!)

A few weeks ago, I was sent the Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean toothpaste and mouthwash.  They work together to fight plaque and gingivitis while providing an invigorating clean!  I was interested in knowing what this "Invigorating Clean" would feel like, so I was happy to try it out!  Well, I have to say that after using the toothpaste, my mouth and lips felt fresh and a nice tingly feeling was left behind.  I really did enjoy it - and I am still using it!  I had to have Dawson try the mouthwash, because the Crest brand does not work well in my gives me sores in my mouth (I have to use another brand that starts with an "L"...and that brand gives my husband sores in his mouth!).  He liked the mouthwash - it worked great and his mouth felt tingly - kind of like the toothpaste!

So, would you like to try this out?  If so, you can enter my giveaway for the Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean toothpaste and mouthwash! Who wouldn't like some free toothpaste and mouthwash - one less thing to put on the grocery list!  So, read below for the details of entering!

To enter this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment on my blog and you can let me know what brand of toothpaste you are currently using (comments on facebook will not count)

2. This giveaway will end this Friday, May 13th at 9pm.  I will then choose the winner and contact you - so make sure that I am able to get in touch with you in some way.

Good Luck!  I will be having some more giveaways late this month, so stay tuned!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Sneak Peak of My Monday

Today was a busy day, but a good day.

Here is a glimpse...well, let me backtrack to the middle of the night...

I was woken up in the middle of the night to take one son to the potty (which is much better than changing sheets the next morning...or middle of the night!) and then later on in my slumber, my 3 year old and his blankie came in to  my room and climbed right into bed with me.  I was so tired, that I decided to let him snuggle there with me.  I am not sure how long he was there, but I eventually turned over to Dawson and asked him to take Smiles back to his bed...and he did!  (He is the best husband!).

Okay, now back to this morning:

All of this happened before 9:30am: said goodbye to Dawson, showered/got dressed, folded some laundry, got the boys up, suggested clothes for them to wear today, helped them get dressed, fed them, and got them out the door

10-11ish Smiles had an eye doctor appt - everything went well, but they gave him those eye drops that dilate the pupils...which he does not like at all (who does?).  I really like his eye doctor - he is awesome with the kids! (Even Brady likes him!)

11:30-12:30 Back home.  Time to make lunch and call my mom - I need to take her to the chiro today...which is fine, b/c I could use an adjustment too.

12:45 - out the door to go to story time at the library

1:15-2:30  Story time and spending time at the library with some friends

2:45 leave the library and pick up mom.  Go to the chiro and get adjusted.  Stop by CVS - I am in there for about 10 minutes.  Drop mom off at home and I go home

4:30ish ?  Get home, give the kids a snack, get ready for the board meeting, throw some dinner together - and whatever else I had to do!

6:15 Dawson arrives home.  I talk with him and give him the run down of what I am thinking of saying at the school board meeting.  He prays with me.

6:45 I am off to stop at CVS - there is something else that I needed to get there.

7:20 I arrive at the school board meeting and talk briefly with a former colleague and then make my way into the board room.  I say what I wanted to and listen to everything that is going on.  I don't always like taking the time to go to the school board meetings, but I am thankful that I have gone to them and hope that I am able to continue to go to them so that I know what is going on in my school district.

9:30 Finally home from the meeting and find that my kids are wanting kisses from me...which only makes them hyper!  So, they did not settle down until about 10pm!!!!  Their bedtime is 8:30 the very latest!!!!  Tomorrow morning should be "fun" to wake them up...I think that it will be breakfast in a bag and milk in a sippy cup which they can eat on the way to our Moms Meeting tomorrow morning!

This was a busy day, but not a "hard" day and not too exhausting - just very busy.  I am thankful for my health, for my family and for my God who has helped me through this day without feeling stressed out.  Normally, I would have been setting up for our Moms meeting, however, I was not able to because Dawson had to work overtime and I had the school board meeting.

It was a good day.  Not everything turned out the way that I may have wanted it too.  However, my son's eyes are healthy, our car is running fine, we borrowed the Nemo soundtrack which I really enjoyed (thanks for finding it, Brady!), we all got great and well-needed adjustments, there was food to feed my family, my husband has a job and makes me smile, CVS had some great deals, and I had the freedom to voice my opinion at a school board meeting.

I am so thankful that the Lord helped me move through this day with grace and ease.  The dishes are not done, the laundry is backed up and I could name many other things here that are not "done" at the moment...but I choose to focus on the positive - I am thankful for the dishes and pots and pans that we have to cook with and eat off of and I am thankful for the clothes that we have so that we have more than one outfit to wear.

God is so faithful.  God is so good.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Birthday Party Planning Thoughts

If we had the parties in January, I would have thrown a McQueen party and a Rain Forest party for my two boys.  However, since we had to push the parties off, this gave the boys time to chance their minds and now we are having a Winnie the Pooh party for my 3 year old (this Saturday) and an Under the Sea party for my 5 year old (some time next month).

Usually, my mom has helped with making special cut out cookies for the parties and my sister has made the cakes, however due to the limitations of health and time, all of that is on me...and I am taking it on!  I am actually going to do some things a little bit different than I did previous years, and I am hoping that we will have nice weather.  

The weekend, our guests will be visiting each of the Winnie the Pooh characters "homes" and doing some sort of activity while they are there.  I still have to a lot to do to pull this off - but I think that it will come together!  Time to put more of the thoughts in to action!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Project: Simplify - Week #5: You Decide!!!

Earlier this week, the 5th and final hot spot was revealed over at Simple Mom, I was happy to see that it was "Whatever you want!"  That is kind of what I have been doing anyway, so that worked for me!  As you may know, I thought that Project: Simplify was a great idea, but I did not follow along with the hot spots that were posted each week...I kind of worked on whatever I felt needed to be worked on - which could really have been anything in my house!

Ok, enough about that - have fun in whatever you may be working on this week!  I am actually working on prepping for a (belated) birthday party for my 3 year old! LOTS TO DO!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Project: Simplify - Week #4: Pantry and Refrigerator

Yes, I know that it is Wednesday already and I have not written about Project: Simplify - Week #4!  This week, the hot spot that many people are working on is.......your pantry and refrigerator!  If you want to see what is suggested that you do as you work on this hot spot, then head over here and check it out!

For my pantry, I use an inventory checklist that you can find over here at  This is such a helpful tool for me.  I now know exactly what is located in my pantry and do not have to run to the basement to search my cabinet to see if I still have some diced tomatoes left!  My husband is slowly catching on to the concept, but he is embracing this idea with me!  I also use an inventory sheet for my freezers - it is really helpful when planning meals, and avoiding food from getting "lost" in the freezer!

I have not been completely participating in Project: Simplify like I have wanted to - however, I am trying to get things accomplished in my house!

Friday, March 25, 2011

I LOVE Date Nights!

I can't wait...I am going on a date tonight with my man! I am so excited that we are going to see live theater again! I have always enjoyed live theater - both plays and musicals. I enjoy watching them and I enjoyed participating in a couple of them! I was in a musical when I was 13 - it was called, "With an Everlasting Love." I was the youngest cast member - most everyone else went to the Bible school where it was performed. I was in another one in high school called "Carousel." That was a lot of fun to be in since a lot of my friends were in it too! My best friend had one of the main roles - she was amazing! They were both so much fun to be in!

We are going to see, "Joseph" at Sight and Sound! It is going to be so nice to be on a date with Dawson again! My MIL will be with the kids - thanks, Mom! Date nights are so awesome!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Project: Simplify - Week #3: Toys and/or Kids Clothes

I am SO excited about this week's hot spot reveal on Project Simplify! Week #3 is Toys and/or Kids Clothing! I might actually get it done!!! I will be focusing on kids clothing, not the toys at this moment in time!

Last week, I started to work on sorting through and boxing up the baby clothing that have been in my basement. I have been on a break from sorting the clothes since (about) last Thursday, but I will have to get back to it tomorrow. In fact, I think that I am going to bring up another box of clothing tonight and put it in my family room so that it is ready for me as soon as a wake up...or as soon as I shower & get dressed, help the kids get dressed, and make breakfast - although it might have to wait until after preschool drop off depending on how smoothly the morning runs! In any case - I will get back to decluttering the baby clothes in my house!

I have to say that it has felt really good to pack the clothes away. It has been fun to travel down memory lane a little bit while looking at the clothes, and it has also been really good to practice getting rid of things that are now considered clutter in my home! I will let you in on a little secret...I have been putting aside some of my favorite pieces of clothing and I am thinking of making (or having someone else make) a quilt out of some of the baby clothing fabric. We will see - BUT, only one box will be devoted to the clothing that will be saved! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Big Reveal...Or Not!

Well, the big reveal for Week #2 of Project: Simplify is not going to happen here today! I have had such high hopes to participate in Project Simplify that Tsh is hosting over at her blog, but when I was really thinking about what I needed to start decluttering in my house, I felt like it was the garage and the basement...although I DO need to work on the paper clutter too!

So, this week Dawson and I had a really nice, long talk. It was SO nice to do this again! With everything going on in our lives - helping out my parents, trying to find energy to get dinner on the table and clean something here and there in my house, and now mandatory overtime for Dawson during the month of March - there does not always seem to be a lot of time for us to sit down and have a nice long uninterrupted talk. We talked about so many things - and at one point, I was doing most of the talking; telling him about what has been on my heart and mind. Quite a few things came out of our talk - including what I decided to begin purging/decluttering out of our basement. Let's just say that my sister and I will hopefully make a few bucks this summer at our garage sales selling our baby clothes and other baby items. Yes, we do believe that we are done having children!

So, I may not have participated in this week's Project: Simplify - Paper Clutter, however, I did work on decluttering in my house, and I am ok with this! If you have participated in this Project - then good for you!!! I think that I am going to continue to purge in my basement, but I will post the new parts of Project Simplify, and keep it on my backburner!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Project: Simplify - Week #2: Paper Clutter

So, I STILL did not complete Week #1 of Project: Simplify...but I WILL DO IT! Last week was a busy, not the most motivated, and draining week. This week will also be a bit busy, but hopefully I will get through it a bit better - and make more time to work on the decluttering that I want and need to do!

Today begins Week #2 of Project: Simplify! The Hot Spot to declutter is: PAPER CLUTTER! This is something that I have begun to work on, but still have much more to do. Later this week, I will share with you how I have begun tackling the paper clutter on my breakfast bar - although I still have quite a bit of tweaking to do in this area!

Some other things that I will be learning this week are:

*How long do you need to keep bill "receipts"

*How long do you need to hold on to a store receipt - and what is the best way to store/file it?

*What do you do with the receipts from the bank/ATM?

I think that I know the answers to these questions, but I need to put it into action...and I WILL get rid of the bill "receipt" from 2005 that I still have in my files...I don't think that I need it anymore! (At least it is in a file - right?) :)

You can check out the tools that are suggested this week to help you here. Tsh's basic plan for "Unleashing Vengeance on You Papers" is below:

1. Gather all your loose papers in to one large box — your receipts, your junk mail, your paid bills, the random notes, and even your kids’ scribbles just laying around.

2. Surround yourself with this main box, your recycling bin, your trash can, your “to be shredded” box or your shredder itself, and your “take action” box. Keep a pen or pencil nearby.

3. Start a movie marathon, IF it won’t distract you. Choose a dialog-heavy flick or one you’ve seen a million times (basically, you don’t have to stare at the screen). Inceptionprobably isn’t a good idea. (My sidenote - I would probably choose music instead!)

4. Start at the top, and work through the main box one sheet of paper at a time. If anything needs attention (a bill to be paid, an event to be added to the calendar), toss it in the “take action” box. If anything needs shredding, either shred it immediately or toss it in the “to be shredded” box. Then, deal with its contents when the three-year-old isn’t around to help you shred more than you bargained for.

5. After you’ve emptied the main box, return to the “take action” box and — well, take action.

6. Once all your paper has been processed, create a spot for paper to land where it can be processed weekly from now on. (My sidenote: I have a GREAT idea for this that I will share later this week!)

7. Take steps to minimize future paper clutter (go paperless with your bills, etc.).

8. Rinse and repeat, either weekly or monthly.

Click here to download and print a PDF checklist of this week’s hot spot (find the hidden irony).

Let me know if you are going to join me in this week's project...of if you already have this in order, leave a comment and let me know what works for you! Have fun!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Project: Simplify Week #1 - Not Done Yet!

If you remember from this post, today I was supposed to be posting my before and after photos of my closet after I finished decluttering it.

Well, I have to say that this week was busy, tiring, and not the most "fun", so I have not been able to finish my decluttering. Truth be told, I have only gone through my "things" from "VS" and my sock drawer. I still have all of my clothes to go through. I am hoping to get this done this weekend...before the next project is announced!

So, stay tuned! Getting rid of things that are in good shape is hard for me to do, but I know that I must part with these "things" in order to move in this new direction...and someone else can enjoy the "things" that I no loner use!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Project: Simplify - Want to Join Me?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am determined to declutter my house. This time of year seems to be the "perfect" time to tackle the clutter in my home, with spring being right around the corner (or so I thought...we have snow on the ground again!) - it is definitely time to do some spring cleaning!

Simple Mom is hosting a five week project to declutter five areas our home. She has called it Project: Simplify. She has revealed this week's hot spot: your wardrobe and closet. It seems simple, but it is a great way to start the project, and it is important to take care of yourself! I agree with her - it is easier to take care of your kids' clothes than your own!

Oh, and one of the rules for participating it to take before and after photos! This should be an interesting task for me to tackle...I still have some boxes of clothes that are in the basement that are labeled "pre-pregnancy" clothes! LOL!!! It is definitely time for me to tackle this area of my life! Want to join me? Check out Simple Mom's blog for more info!

Below is the list that Simple Mom has compiled for attacking our wardrobe and closet. You can find out more information on her blog.
  1. Make sure all your clothes are washed and in one place.
  2. Set aside all items you already know you don’t want — wearable in the “give” box; unwearable in the “toss” box.
  3. Try on all the rest of your clothes — no cheating.
  4. Anything that doesn’t fit well, put in a separate pile.
  5. Anything that isn’t the right color on you, put in the “give” box.
  6. Anything that has un-mendable holes or stains, is unwearable, or underwear that’s seen better days, put in the “toss” box.
  7. Once your closet and drawers are empty, clean them.
  8. Hang, fold, and put away the clothes you know you’re keeping.
  9. Reassess the items in your doesn’t-fit-well pile.
  10. Tackle your shoes, jewelry, and other accessories.
I have to say that I am stepping out of my comfort zone to do something like this. However I am excited to be doing this! Let me know if you plan on joining in on the fun!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hearty Ham and Potato Soup

It's raining and the wind is blowing pretty hard here...which makes me want to cuddle up to a nice bowl of soup. I found this soup recipe on a blog that I read called Simple Organized Living, and it sounds and looks really good! Andrea, mentions that this soup does not freeze well, so I figured that I would pass that along to you too! Enjoy Andrea's recipe - I am going to!

Hearty Ham and Potato Soup


  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 qts. water
  • 6 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. milk or cream
  • 1/2 lb. ham, cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat oil in a large pot and sautee onions until soft
  • Add water, potatoes, carrots, and celery
  • Boil until veggies are tender {about 15 minutes}
  • Drain and reserve all liquid {you will use some of this broth later on…and you can freeze the rest of it}
  • Set veggies aside
  • In the same pan, melt butter
  • Whisk flour and milk together and add to the melted butter, string constantly until mixture thickens
  • Add 1 cup or more of reserved broth — if you like thicker soup, add less — thinner soup, add more
  • Gently stir in cooked vegetables and ham.
  • You may add more broth if you want a thinner soup, or let it simmer for a while if it’s too thin. (freeze the reaming broth for future use)
  • Serve with salad and fresh bread, garlic bread, or rolls.
Update: I have to say that I thought that this soup was bland. It could have been that I only had 5 oz of ham instead of 8 oz, or it could be lacking in some herbs. It was good, but not the best tasting soup that I have made.

Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Decluttering Road

I wanted the month of February to be the month that I decluttered my house - completely. I set my goal high, but due to sickness in my family (viruses) and helping out at my parents' house, I did not complete this goal. However, I started!

From what I can remember, I decluttered the following things from my house:

3 bags filled with clothes
1 cardboard box filled with various "things"
1 HUGE TV (we bought a flat screen last December)
1 toddler bed (that we gave to a friend)
we recycled at least 15 cardboard boxes that were in our garage
1 glider - we brought this to my mom's house for her to use (it is on "loan" for now!)


Tomorrow, my MIL is going to watch Smiles while Brady is at preschool (thank you!!!)...and I am going to do some returns that have been sitting around my house since December! My Mom got seriously ill the day after Christmas, so this got put on hold for a while...I have been a little busy!!! I am so excited to finally get this "stuff" out of my house!!

Yes, I get excited about the little things...but to me, it is a pretty big thing! :)