Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 has been a crazy year! (Don't we tend to say that about every year?) But 2013 can only be better!

Have fun & be safe!

See you next year...

Afrin No Drip: A Review

I'm going to be completely honest with you here. I hate it when I get a cold. It's more of an annoyance than anything. Usually I end up craning my neck in the most awkward positions so I don't end up breathing on my kids when they want to snuggle. Mouth breathing is the worst. And you definitely don't want to spread those germs. Especially to little ones.

But guess what...that's so 2012. OK, well in a few days it will be. Point is, it's in the past. Now at the start of a cold, I stick it to my nasal congestion. Literally. Stick it. With Afrin No Drip Nasal Solution.

I've used a nasal solution a few times in the past. BUT (& that's a big BUT), I was not a fan. The solution always ended up either almost going in my throat, or just running back out. Yuck. 

Well it just so happened that by being a BzzAgent, I was invited into the Afrin Stick Up For Yourself BzzCampaign. So I thought...what the heck.

It all started last week when I woke up with a clogged right nostril. I went through half of my day trying to blow it out. Yea, it didn't work. Then it dawned on me that I had the Afrin No Drip (Original) from BzzAgent in my medicine cupboard. I braced myself for what I assumed would be next, the "no drip" part meant nothing to me. Two sprays & then I waited. And waited. And then I realized that it really wasn't going to drip back out. And it never went near my throat. And then I could breathe!

I was ecstatic! My day continued uneventful & I followed up with a couple more sprays before bed. Needless to say, I'm a mouth breather no longer. I stuck up for myself!

Let me explain a bit. Not only is Afrin great, but they're fun too. Afrin wants to help you "Stick It" to nasal congestion. You can also "Squeeze for Wisdom" & watch a short video on their website. You'll see, it's the simple things. Like breathing...through your nose.

Head on over to Afrin & check out all of the nasal sprays they have to offer. You can even compare them before you go to the store. Another thing to do before you go to the store, print out a coupon.

So what are you waiting for? Stick up for yourself with Afrin No Drip Original. (Or any of their other formulas if you prefer.)

*Afrin's pump mist delivers a measured dose of relief for up to 12 hours. Please read product directions & follow accordingly.

**Disclaimer: I received this product from BzzAgent & am simply sharing my opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tater Tot Casserole

So we had some snow in NE Ohio yesterday. Naturally that made me want some comfort food. But not just any comfort food, I wanted Tater Tot Casserole.

Before I get started, let me say that I have seen many different recipes for this with veggies in it. If that's what you're looking for...this isn't it. (Might I suggest a small salad or some veggies on the side perhaps?) But if you happen to have a love affair with cheese...keep reading.

You'll need:
-1 lb. hamburger
-1 small onion, diced (or 3 if you love them like I do)
-1 can cream of mushroom soup
-1 bag frozen tater tots
-1/2 block of regular size Velveeta cheese, cubed (8 oz. maybe?)
Not pictured:
-9x13 glass baking dish
-nonstick cooking spray
-aluminum foil

Start by cooking your hamburger & diced onions in a skillet over medium heat until meat is browned & onions are tender. Drain off any grease. (Shhh, don't tell but I forgot to take pictures of this part.)

While your meat is cooking, spray the 9x13 glass dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer tater tots.

Get your cream of mushroom soup ready. Add 1 can water in a small saucepan over medium heat & cook until thoroughly combined. (I did remember to take this picture though. All better now?)

Your hamburger & onions should be done by now. Evenly spread out (as best as you can) over the tater tots.

Live action shot! OK, so it's a bit crooked. Anywho, evenly pour the soup over your dish.

And then comes the cheese!!! Cover with foil & bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

End result: Cheesy, potato, hamburger heaven. Also known as Tater Tot Casserole. Let it cool for 15 minutes before digging in. (P.S. salt & pepper is a must. Well in my world it is anyways.)


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It's a Holiday VoxBox!

Happy Holidays to me!

This is my Holiday VoxBox 2012 from Influenster. (Isn't it pretty?)

It's chock full of goodies, like:
*Quaker Real Medleys Oatmeal (Summer Berry)
*NYC New York Color Liquid Lipshine (Nude York City)
*Kiss Nail Dress (Princess)
*EBOOST (Pink Lemonade)
*Goody Quikstyle Paddle Brush
*$25 coupon code for Sole Society

Want to know more about Influenster? Check out a past blog post about their site relaunch here.

Want to know more about these awesome products? Well, don't worry, I'm testing them all out for you & will report back soon. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Acorn Squash with Candied Walnuts

It's almost Christmas! I have been looking forward to my Christmas dinner for a few days now...glazed ham, baked sweet potatoes with candied walnuts, garlic roasted green beans, homemade crescent rolls & Caesar salad. I can hardly wait now! Actually, the other day I couldn't wait. So I made something a bit close to one of the dishes...acorn squash with candied walnuts.

This is so easy to make! And the candied walnuts just give it a great taste. Of course, I'm sure you could use pecans too. Actually I know you can, I just didn't have any in my cupboard.

Start by washing & halving your squash. Then scoop out all the seeds & pulp, getting it as clean as you can. Place cut side down in a 9x13 glass dish & add enough water to cover bottom by about 1/2 inch. Cover with foil & place in a 350 degree oven until done. (The top will be soft if you press on it.) Your cooking times will vary by the size of your squash, but roughly you're looking at 40-60 minutes (give or take).

At some point make your candied walnuts. My favorite recipe to use is HERE. But as a helpful hint, I don't worry about separating them out too much before they cool. It's easier for me to just break the chunks later after they've cooled. And I usually sift some powdered sugar on top too.

Now all you need to do is assemble. Follow closely...acorn squash, dab of butter, bit of brown sugar (so I like my sugars, you will too when you try this) & then candied walnuts.

Now if you'll excuse me, I hear some candied walnuts calling my name from a cupboard in the kitchen.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Genius Moment: Cutting Glass

I'm slightly addicted to Pinterest. One day I came across a pin for cutting glass with only yarn, nail polish remover & a lighter. I quickly re-pinned it & then followed through to view the actual post. I read it & it sounded super easy. This was months ago.

This past week I decided to do it. I grabbed my empty Perrier bottle which had been sitting on my kitchen counter for almost equally as long. I grabbed my supplies & filled the sink with cold water. I tried my best to get my yarn to stay where I wanted it to & tied a couple knots in it to help it. Then I soaked the yarn in some nail polish remover (with acetone, an important detail.) Re-positioned the yarn on my bottle & grabbed the lighter. I quickly turned the bottle on its side & began to spin it.

This is when my hubby walked over asking me what on earth I was doing. I told him & he just laughed, telling me I didn't want to do that. I instantly got a little scared, mind you, I was still spinning my burning bottle.

This is where re-reading the directions would have been a great idea, I thought to myself. I took a deep breath & rushed my bottle into the sink full of cold water & looked away. There were two loud pops & this is what I had.

The piece I had wanted off had actually broken off where I wanted it to. As well as shortly above for some reason (hence the two pops I heard). My edge is a bit jagged, no doubt from the knots I had tied in my yarn. But no big deal (there'll be more times to perfect it.) I grabbed my sandpaper & carefully started to sand the edge to help take away any sharpness.

I didn't have any flowers to put in it, so I opted for a few glass ball ornaments instead. With my lighted garland nearby on my entertainment center, it provides a great glow. 

Now, I had planned to link you all to the post I had originally seen this on. BUT, the pin had been reported as spam. Upon further investigation, the blog itself has been set to invitation only. So here are my best directions from memory, that weren't too shabby if I must say myself. (Which I must, we all know that.)

glass bottle or jar
acetone nail polish remover
sink of COLD water

-Thoroughly clean & dry bottle (remove any stickers)
-Place yarn at desired point & wrap around a few times (you may need to secure)
-Remove yarn & THOROUGHLY soak in nail polish remover
-Replace yarn on glass
-Take lighter & light yarn
-Turn glass sideways & spin (Use your best judgement call on how many times to spin your glass based on the thickness.*This is the only part I can't seem to remember specifics so please use caution*)
-Plunge glass in cold water
-Sand your edges

*It was stated that some glass may crack or not break properly. It's all about experimentation. But I can vouch for a Perrier bottle. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Cookies

Now I know that there are not 12 days until Christmas. But my procrastinating nature along with things out of my control kind of shortens it. So far I have 2 out my 12 complete. Not too bad. Oh wait, did I mention that ideally I need to have everything done by Thursday night? Make note that it's now Tuesday night, so that's...2 days! I better get busy!

Courtesy of Betty Crocker

Courtesy of Betty Crocker
This year I got Strawberry-Rhubarb & Peach Jams to use for these. But my favorite will always be Apricot Jam!

To make them minty, just add some crushed Andes mints. Delish!

Just top with a Hershey Kiss! *muah*

Courtesy of Ann Clark Ltd.
* with Frosting

*minus the nuts

12. Rum Balls
This recipe calls for chocolate wafer cookies, but I substitute Nilla wafers & some cocoa powder. I also do not measure the rum. Which often results in adding more Nilla wafers, followed by more powdered sugar & then probably more rum. 
Regardless of how much of whatever ingredient you put in, you just want to be able to roll it in a ball & then roll it in powdered sugar.
Oh & fair warning, 2 of these & you will smell like a lush!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dear Sandy Hook Elementary Parents,

Many thoughts & prayers are all over our nation right now for the families affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. 

As a mother of young children (one being a 1st grader), I cannot begin to fathom what these families are going through. My heart aches for these families as if they were old friends, despite the fact that they are indeed strangers who live states away. 

Our nation mourns the loss of young lives today, including President Obama who continuously wiped tears from his eyes while addressing this terrible tragedy. Flags all over the country have been lowered to half staff to show respect & sorrow to the victims. Parents hugged their children a little longer, imagining that this could have very well happened where they live. 

Dear Sandy Hook Elementary Parents,

May you one day find solitude from this unmistakable tragedy. May you know that although your loved one had a life short lived, that life has far exceeded possibilities you could imagine. Your loved one has touched the hearts of people across the country & quite possibly in other parts of the world as well. Someone, somewhere, will make sure that this did not happen in vain. 

Countless strangers mourn with you over your tragic loss. Unable to grasp for words, but wanting to reach out. Like me.  

Endless thoughts, prayers & hugs from NE Ohio

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Boogie Wipes: My New Go-To

I love finding the products that seem like they were made just for me & my family. Our latest craze, Boogie Wipes.

Made by moms for moms, these saline wipes have yet to disappoint. Made for the purpose of relieving tiny noses of the red soreness that usually comes with a runny nose. But they're not restricted to just kids. I have even grabbed a few here & there.

The perfect size to keep in the car!
I swear I keep them everywhere too! I have a large container in the car, a pack in the bathroom, a pack & sample packs in my purse. Yes, I love passing out my samples to random strangers & friends alike. Need a tissue? Have a Boogie Wipe. Have a messy kid? Have a Boogie Wipe. 

Yes, you read that right, they work great on messy faces & hands too. (Just ask the lady behind me in line, who saw me clean yogurt covered pretzel mess off my 1 year old in just a few quick swipes.)

Another reason why Boogie Wipes are so great? They're fun! You can look into the Booger Factsjokesplay games & read stories in the Save the Sleeve section. And that's just a few fun things! Select packs also have a What's on your Face Secret Code to enter. You could win one of several coupons or a FREE pack of Boogie Wipes! You can also join the Boogie Bunch for updates & coupons.

Getting excited yet? Good! Check out the rest that Boogie Wipes has to offer. then come back & tell me what you love about Boogie Wipes.

"Boogie Wipes are made with natural saline to dissolve boogies (mucus) caused by the  common cold, allergies or otherwise booger-filled kid moments.
Extra soft, alcohol, phthalate and paraben free, Boogie Wipes are available in Great Grape, Fresh Scent, Minty Menthol and Simply Unscented. Recommended by pediatricians as a gentle, effective alternative to a dry tissue"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BBQ Pulled Pork Stack Recipe & Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes

It's dinner time!

This is my BBQ Pulled Pork Stack. Super simple to make, filling & delicious. Don't worry, I'll be sharing my recipes later (yes, recipes) to make this. Oh & just as an FYI: this picture doesn't do it justice.

First, let's talk about the pork. Usually I just cook my pork loin in the crock-pot with some basic seasonings & then add some BBQ sauce at the end. It's good, but not great. But the pork I made tonight, wow! Even my kids asked for seconds (usually they don't when I make it). And my picky eater asked for thirds (unheard of!). So what was so special about it? I used a Crock-Pot Seasoning Mix.

I'm a member of Smiley360 & one of my latest missions was for Crock-Pot Seasoning Mixes. I received Pot Roast, Beef Stew & BBQ Pulled Pork. All of which were way better than I expected! Just place your meat (& usually veggies) in your crock-pot. Take your seasoning mix, add a few (if that) ingredients & pour over top. Cover & cook. And let's not forget the taste, so savory! Usually my BBQ pulled pork ends up being weighed down by the BBQ sauce. But using my Crock-Pot Seasoning Mix, it had a nice smoky flavor while still being able to taste the pork. Delicious.

Now, on to the BBQ Pulled Pork Stack...

Start with some toasted bread. I made a loaf of Sally Lunn in my bread machine for this. Any will do though. (Recipe to follow).

Top with BBQ Pulled Pork...

Then mashed potatoes...

And then the shredded cheddar!

Next is coleslaw. I made Creamy Coleslaw from Betty Crocker (my fave).

And lastly, an onion ring. I thought about making some beer battered onion rings, but I had plenty of things on my counter already. Good thing I had some frozen ones left still (seeing as how I love to randomly top things with onion rings).

And it's done! It sounds & looks odd, I know. But the flavors blend together so wonderfully. Hope you enjoy it!

Sally Lunn Bread (made in a bread machine):

*1.5 lb. recipe

1 egg plus enough water to equal 1C. plus 2 Tbsp.
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp & 1 tsp. sugar
1/4C. & 2 Tbsp softened butter
3C. bread flour
1 tsp. bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer.

Select Basic/White cycle. Use Medium or Light crust color. Do not use delay cycles. Remove baked bread from pan, & cool on wire rack.

Smiley360 is a social community for people who love brands. Be the first to try new products, experiences & offers for free, and share your thoughts online!

**Disclaimer: I received this product to try from Smiley360 & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Birthday Craft

Yesterday my baby girl, Hayden Tinley, turned ONE! We had a relaxed day of food & friends.

As part of her presents, I had something special for her. Actually, I had hoped to have two somethings, but the second is still on my to-do list.

This is a canvas I painted for her. (The second will be a corresponding night/middle name these.) I'm hoping that by sharing this on my blog, it'll keep me in line to finish up the second.

And no 1st birthday would be complete without...

Chocolate cake!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Xlear SparX Candy: A Review

As a mom, you don't really want your kids to eat a bunch of candy. But if your 3 year old son happens to inherit your husband's sweet tooth for it, there's only so much you can do. (Note: Dental issues also run on hubby's side, primarily an early loss of enamel. - Sounds random, but keep reading.)

As a blogger & a member of Moms Meet, I had the opportunity to try Xlear SparX Candy in both Citrus & Fruit flavors. And let me tell you, not only was I pleasantly surprised, but shocked & excited over this product. Here's why...

"Xlear SparX Candy is a growing line of healthy, xylitol-based candies. Xlear SparX is sweetened naturally with xylitol, a plant-based, dentist recommended sweetener that’s been proven to improve dental health and strengthen tooth enamel."

"Over 25 years of clinical testing confirms that xylitol is the best sweetener for teeth. Frequent eating of foods high in sugars and starches can promote tooth decay. Xylitol, unlike other sugars, may reduce the risk of dental caries. Sugar free chewing gums and candies made with this sweetener have already received official endorsements from six national dental associations.
SparX® are naturally flavored little candy "dots" that are rich in Xylitol. Kids love the great taste while parents can feel confident that they are giving their kids a treat which actually helps improve dental health."

Never have I tasted a candy that provided so many benefits & tasted so good!  Between my husband & I, along with our two oldest children (Paige, 6 & Damien, 3) our Xlear SparX Candy seemed like it was gone in no time. And while I still knew the great benefits these little tasty candies provided, I'll admit that I had to remind myself when the kids were enjoying them a couple of times that they weren't supposed to. (Courtesy of hubby's sweet tooth, nonetheless.)

Knowing what I now know about xylitol, along with the possible inheritance of poor dental genes (fingers crossed they get mine instead), I would be a happy mama if this was the only candy my kids ever consumed. But since I know that will probably never happen, occasionally will still work for me.

Want to know more about Xlear products & xylitol? You can find tons of info on their website & facebook page

Moms Meet is an online resource that empowers moms to come together in an informal setting and talk about the latest on raising healthy families and living green. Moms Meet offers exciting opportunities for Mom Ambassadors and their groups to sample the latest healthy, green products. Sign up today!

***Disclaimer: I am blogging about this product without compensation from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to review this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Speedy Supper: Pot Roast Sammies

In a rush for dinner & no clue what to make? Well, with just a handful of items, you'll have your belly full in no time.

Necessity #1: Pot Roast. I've gotten in the habit of sticking my leftover roast (made with carrots, celery, onion & potatoes) in the freezer, just for these sandwiches. If you're like me & rarely have leftover potatoes, that's perfectly fine.

Start by buttering & toasting both sides of your bread on a griddle. I had a bag of wheat open, but really any kind will do.

Top one side with some roast (make sure your veggies are cut up & meat is shredded) & the other side about an onion ring? Yea, an onion ring. Just because I happened to have some & it sounded good. Your call on that one though, although I do recommend it.

Show me the cheddar!

Well look at that! We made a sammich.

The perfect side, a baked potato.

Scrub & pierce your potatoes. Place on a microwave safe plate. Spray with cooking spray & then give a sprinkling of seasoned salt. Wrap with plastic wrap & microwave till done.

If you happen to prep everything you need for salads like I usually do, you can whip up one in practically no time as another side.

Now you can eat & run. But not actually eat & run, you might get a cramp.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sears Cheer Headquarters & Smiley360

It's that time of year! Time to decorate for the upcoming holiday. Usually I do everything on Black Friday. But with a soon to be 1 year old in the house, we're dragging it out a bit longer.

   I want my living room to look like the one I found on Sears!
Speaking of decorating, have you started yet? Are you done already? Or are you somewhere in the middle like me? Do you go the traditional route or modern? I know, I know, what's with all of the questions (?)...(like how I did that?) One more & I'm done, I swear. Do you have that one item you want but you just haven't found what you're looking for yet?

Well I do! Mine is the tree topper. But no worries, I think I've found "the one".

This is from Ty Pennington's Winter's Night Collection available at Sears for $9.04. Perfect.

Now I don't normally consider Sears as a go to location for decorations. Until now of course. You see, I received a $15 Sears gift card to spend towards holiday decorations from Smiley360. So I immediately went to the Sears Cheer Headquarters to check it all out.

Ty's Home Sweet Holiday Collection has this little owl ornament for $3.61. Isn't it cute?!

For a classic touch, there is this bird ornament from Ty's Golden Adornment Collection. And at only $2.40, it is gorgeous!

And for a bit of sparkle, a snowflake ornament from Ty's Jewel Jubilee Collection. For $3.01, that's the closest I care to get to the snow.

With so many options to choose from, it's amazing I'm even able to make up my mind. But you don't have to stop there. There's many other holiday items available (I'm just really digging the Ty Pennington Collections). And don't forget to check out the Sears Cheer Tree for exclusive insights & inspiration from Ty Pennington & lifestyle expert George Hirsch.

Oh & while we're at it, be sure that you sign up for Shop Your Way Rewards (can be used at KMart too.) You earn 10 points for every $1 you spend. Then you can redeem your points (1,000=$1) when you're shopping online or in a store. Just an added bonus for being a great customer!

What are you waiting for? head over to your local Sears or shop online for your holiday decorating needs.

Smiley360 is a social community for people who love brands. Be the first to try new products, experiences & offers for free, and share your thoughts online!

**Disclaimer: I received this product to try from Smiley360 & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.