Sunday, March 30, 2014

30 Day Salad Swap by Fresh Express

**Disclaimer: I received this product for free 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 use 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.

Most of the time when we make dinner, we make a salad to go with our favorite foods (like lasagna or pizza). But how about a salad in place of our favorite foods? Meh? Well, how about if I told you, you could get the same great taste, just as a salad. 

Photo credit: Moms Meet

Fresh Express, the makers of those wonderful bags of lettuce & other greens that are thoroughly washed, rinsed, gently dried & sealed in a patented
"Keep-Crisp®” breathable bag to keep their maximum freshness without preservatives; have introduced the 30 Day Salad Swap. It's simple (& genius, actually), simply swap out one meal a day with a salad. Any meal. Breakfast (yes they have a swap for blueberry pancakes), lunch (Reuben anyone?) or dinner (Chicken Piccata & steak with potatoes). 

Signing up for the 30 day Salad Swap is easy & takes less than a minute. Of course they have recipes galore, but after you fill out your bio (why you're trying the salad swap, starting weight, height, age, gender & activity level), you're then able to track your calories consumed and burned, rewards & your total weight loss. Rewards? Yep, you read that right. Enter the purchase code on the Fresh Express bag & for every 2 codes (up to 14 in 30 days), receive a money saving coupon. Enter 15 bags total within 30 days of signing up & receive $50 in coupons to use for the whole year!

And for those that are always on the go, which is why Fresh Express is so perfect to begin with, you can also download the Fresh Express 30 Day Salad Swap app. 

View this photo on Instagram!

OK, so this isn't a salad swap recipe. But, it is my current salad du jour. Fancy Greens, Spinach & Arugula, with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, celery & a light vinaigrette. Of course the salad swap recipe for a Reuben is practically screaming my name!

After you sign up for the 30 Day Salad Swap, be sure to sign up for the latest Fresh Updates & print a coupon for $0.55 off any bag of Fresh Express Salad.  

Keep up with the latest from Fresh Express on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

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!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Van's Natural Foods & a Giveaway!

**Disclaimer: I have received products to try from Van's Natural Foods & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

There are advantages to living in a small town, but one of the biggest drawbacks is finding specific items at the grocery store. I mean, sure, there's a WalMart nearby. But WalMart isn't exactly known for their selection of organic & natural foods. Mental note: Must plan a day trip to the nearest Whole Foods & Trader Joe's (at least a 90 min. drive - one way!).

That being said, I was over the moon ecstatic when I received a box of goodies from Van's Natural Foods. I've had my fair share of Gluten Free Blueberry & 8 Whole Grains Multigrain Waffles (our favorites), but I was somehow oblivious to their snack line. Obviously because my local stores don't seem to carry it, aside from one store that I found some Say Cheese! Gluten Free Crackers. (Fingers crossed at least some of my numerous requests to store managers get results.) Especially since my family devoured these goodies in no time at all. Luckily for you, they were kind enough to save me a few bites. (How sweet of them.)

Gluten Free Multigrain Chips

These chips are made with brown rice, oats, millet, quinoa & amaranth and are loaded with 18 grams of whole grains. But don't let the ingredient list fool you, these chips definitely deliver a 1-2-punch in the flavor department! 

Mighty Good BBQ! has the perfect amount of BBQ taste, but you can just tell they're a "better for you" choice. Which was enough to convert myself, usually an anti-BBQ chip person, into a huge fan! The hubs loved these too, which is why I consider myself lucky I even got the small handful I did. 

View this photo on Instagram!

Nacho, Nacho, Man! is definitely the funnest of them all. I just couldn't help busting out a little song & dance when I saw these. (Macho Man by The Village People for those that have no clue what I'm talking about.) Now to be honest, I only tried a small amount of these chips, which were great by the way! The reason is simple, my kids loved these! And I preferred them to want the "better for you" chip over the everyday average chip.

Gluten-Free PB&J Sandwich Bars

Packed with 10 grams of whole grains, these PB&J Sandwich Bars are the real deal. Real peanut butter & all natural fruit fillings are sandwiched between two gluten-free bars, then individually sealed for the perfect treat on the go. Plus, they get major bonus points for not being as messy as an actual PB&J on the go!

Blueberry PB&J Gluten-Free Sandwich Bars are a close match for my beloved grape PB&J. But nowhere near as messy (I've said that before, right?). I kept one in my truck for an emergency & was so glad I did. It was just what I needed for an empty stomach, with no chance of being able to stop for something else, just so I could take some ibuprofen before a migraine started to settle in. Actually, it was better than had I had the chance to stop. Delicious whole grains or greasy fries, hmm...

Then there were the Strawberry PB&J Gluten-Free Sandwich Bars. My kids are obsessed with strawberry anything. So between school lunches & afternoon snacks, these were gone in...a day! Good thing they were kind enough to share though. I got 3 bites (1 bite from each kid). And I had to agree that they were "really super duper delicious".

Photo credit: Van's Natural Foods

OK, back to the waffles. I am pleased to say that Van's Natural Foods now offers Love Your Heart Totally Natural Waffles. We try to make "smart heart decisions", as I call them, since we live with an uncertain future from Paige's Kawasaki Disease. And since she loves waffles, these are like a match made in heaven! 

Love Your Heart Totally Natural Waffles are packed with a whopping 34 grams of whole grains & 7 grams of fiber (including 1 gram of soluble fiber). I have yet to spot these at my local stores, but I did finally spot an empty space where they were stocked at one of them. They're still pretty new on the market, so I'm just waiting for the rest of my local stores to catch on & start stocking them. (Small town drawback, remember?) Until then, Gluten Free Blueberry & 8 Whole Grains Multigrain Waffles it is!

One lucky winner will receive coupons from Van's Natural Foods! (2 for their dry snack line & 2 for the frozen line.)

 The FLASH giveaway will conclude on at 12:00 a.m. est on Saturday 3/29/14. Winners will be announced via rafflecopter & in a separate blog post which will be published no later than 3:00 p.m. on Saturday 3/29/14. Winners will also be notified via email & announced on the Smith and Blessings facebook page. Winners will have 24 hours to submit shipping information, which will then be passed on to Van's Natural Foods for distribution of product. If 24 hours has lapsed, a new winner will be picked & then will also have 24 hours to submit their information. *Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Keep up with the latest from Van's Natural Foods on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. 

Van's Natural Foods got their start in the 1970's, at the original Van's Restaurant. Today, their California beachside roots, still remain in the artisanal  quality of their whole grain & gluten free fare. Van's Natural Foods keep things simple, by cooking their products in small & minimally processed batches and always with the freshest ingredients.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Work it Wednesday: Easy Nail Care at Home

After a rough winter, my nails were in desperate need of a little TLC. Good thing I didn't have to go far to get it. 
•Lemon juice is great for helping to whiten your nails (mine tend to do so when i stay on top of keeping them polished). But brushing on a bit of lemon juice will also help to fortify your nails. And if you have time, mix a 1:1 ratio of lemon juice & olive oil, and give them a good soak for 15-20 min.
•Olive oil is a great moisturizer for your cuticles. Simply brush some on with a q-tip before applying your polish, or even before you go to sleep. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: BBQ Pork Sandwiches

I never used to like BBQ pork sandwiches. To me, they just seemed kind of, well, plain. It must be because a majority I've (tried) to consume were just shredded BBQ pork on a bun. Of course I make mine the same way, before I add some yummy extras of course.

•shredded BBQ pork
•cheese (any kind will do)
•onion ring (I skipped this on my sandwich since I ran out of time to make them. It still tastes good, but that onion ring makes a huge difference in the taste.)
•extra BBQ sauce, for drizzling
•buns or bread

- Simply top a bun bottom or slice of bread with BBQ pork, cheese, coleslaw, onion ring & extra BBQ sauce. Replace top.
- Be sure to grab a napkin or three & enjoy!

Messy Monday: Homemade Steam Cleaner Solution

Having a KD kid, I always hear about the suspected link between professional carpet cleaners & Kawasaki Disease. Even though it has never been proven & I have never even used a professional carpet cleaner, it's enough to make me shy away from store bought steam cleaner solutions. Which is fine, since over the years I have managed to perfect a solution that I use every time I clean my carpets now.

 •hot water
•1Tbsp. dish soap
•1Tbsp. hydrogen peroxide

- Combine equal parts hot water & vinegar in the water reservoir of your steam cleaner. 
- Add dish soap & hydrogen peroxide.

*As with all carpet cleaners, first test in an inconspicuous area. 

Simple Sunday: Seeds!

With the official start of Spring, comes the official purchasing of seeds!

Snacktastic Saturday: Mug Cake

I have a confession. I love cake! However, I tend to favor cupcakes over an actual cake though. They're a good portion size, easy to share with friends & I can leave a few without frosting for the hubs. But what's a girl to do when it's 8:30 at night & you get the hankering for some cake?! The solution, mug cake!

Simply mix 1 box of Angel Food cake mix with 1 box of whatever flavor cake mix you'd like, in a gallon size zipper seal storage bag. (Shake well to combine.)

•3Tbsp. mug cake mix
•2Tbsp. water

- Combine mug cake mix & water in a mug.
- Stir until thoroughly mixed.
- Microwave for 1 min. 
- Allow to cool slightly & enjoy!

* You can also add toppings! My current favorite is adding some chocolate pudding to a Devil's Food mug cake mix before microwaving. Then when it's done, I top it with vanilla bean ice cream for a Chocolate Lava Mug Cake Sundae! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fun Friday: Chalkboard Wall

I have been contemplating on what to do in my sons room for...forever. And while I'm finally 99.9% sure of what we're going to do, one thing I've always been certain of is a chalkboard wall. 

View this photo on Instagram!

There was one area of wall that was completely sectioned off by the bedroom door, closet door, baseboard & a chair rail; making it the perfect spot. But where would we keep the chalk? I wanted it to stay as close to the chalkboard as possible. So how about on the chalkboard?! With some candle tins, screws & the hubs assistance, that's exactly what we did. 

Think It Thursday: Going Meatless, Vegan & Gluten Free

For the record, I am not completely meatless, vegan or gluten free. Although I have been making conscious efforts lately to include at least one meal a week of each into my diet. 

My favorite, by far, is going meatless (ahem, Meatless Monday anyone?) I never thought my kids or the hubs would ask for Eggplant Parmesan...but they do! Quite often, actually. Of course going meatless is easy to do. Veggie pizzas, portobello sandwiches & crunchy vegetable wraps are all favorites in my house. (They're also favorites when we have the "meat version" too.) And let's not forget the plethora of meatless products that are made to take the place of meat. I never thought in a million years that I would like them, let alone prefer some of them over the real thing. Now who saw that one coming?!

By going meatless at least one day a week, you can limit your cancer risk, reduce the chance for heart disease, help curb obesity & fight diabetes. You can even reduce the carbon footprint since the meat industry produces some of the highest numbers in man made greenhouse gas emissions. 

Vegan foods are extremely new to me. So far I've tried a couple of dessert recipes with applesauce in place of using eggs & milk, along with different kinds of flours. But I do intend on making a complete vegan meal sometime in the near future. So far I'm thinking of a spaghetti squash, portobello, pomodoro something or other. 

Vegan meals are packed with antioxidants that are anti-cancer & tend to be more nutritious and heart healthy. They also help to boost your immunity & give you better skin and hair. And let's not forget about the amount of money you can save from not buying products that have any link to animals. 

Gluten free foods are mostly reserved for those with Celiac Disease or a gluten/wheat sensitivity, But after learning that going gluten free can also help with problems later in life, like Osteoporosis which my mom was recently diagnosed with, I was definitely interested in trying it out. While there isn't a mile long list of benefits for those that don't necessarily need to go gluten free, I have noticed that I feel a lot better after snacking on a gluten free dessert compared to it's gluten filled counterpart. And going without gluten doesn't mean that it skims on the taste! 

Work It Wednesday: Rotate Your Workouts

I know you've been there before. You  find a workout routine you love, whether it's running or a fitness DVD, & you think it loves you too because you are definitely seeing some advantages from the relationship. But then, you notice a change. Sure, you're still spending tons of time with your workout, but the chemistry just isn't there anymore. So of course you end up bitter & vow to never spend quality time with that workout again. Now that's a bad breakup. But you should know, it's not your workout, it's YOU!

OK, so relating a workout to a relationship might not be the best of things. But you have to admit there are a few similar characteristics. The only thing is that monogamy is definitely not good when it comes to working out. Monogamy is monotonous, which leads to boredom. A.k.a. - the kiss of death to your workout relationship.

Rotating different workouts into your fitness regime, not only keeps it from boring yourself into failure, but it also helps to continuously challenge your body (a.k.a. - burn more calories). But don't forget that your body does need time to repair itself in between strenuous workouts. That doesn't necessarily mean that you get a rest day, more like a "take it easy" day. 

I don't have certain workouts I do on certain days (even though I really should), but I do have quite a variety. I like to mix up several workout DVD's (& even a few VHS) that are great for cardio, with hula, yoga, running, the basics (crunches, push-ups, squats, etc.) along with just dancing. Think Honey I Shrunk the Kids where she's dancing while sweeping the kitchen. Yep, that's totally me! But with all of that, I don't get bored & neither does my body. (Score!)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Toasted Ravioli

Fried ravioli is a favorite in our house, but let's face it, fried anything isn't very healthy. So after some trial & error, I finally perfected my recipe for a toasted version that delivers the same great taste. Actually, my oldest (the biggest ravioli critic of them all), told me that she prefers them toasted like this instead of fried now. And that says a lot!

•desired flavor of ravioli
•fresh bread crumbs
•Parmesan cheese
•garlic salt
•black pepper
•parsley flakes
•splash of milk
•cooking spray
•marinara for dipping, optional

- Place ravioli in colander & run under cold water to thaw if frozen. 
- In a shallow dish, combine equal parts (or close to it) of fresh bread crumbs & Parmesan cheese. Add desired amount of garlic salt, black pepper & parsley flakes.
- In a separate shallow dish, combine egg with a splash of milk & water to make a thinned out egg wash. 
- Preheat oven to 375º & line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- Thoroughly coat raviolis in egg wash, followed by the breadcrumb mixture & place on the baking sheet.
- Before placing in the oven, spray the raviolis with cooking spray. 
- Bake 2-30 min. until toasted, flipping halfway & spraying again with cooking spray.
- Serve with marinara for dipping, if desired. 


Messy Monday: Homemade "Magic Eraser"

Years ago I fell in love with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I loved the simplicity of them, after all there were no extra steps or harsh fumes. All you had to was wet it & then happily scrub away (at least as happily as you could while you were scrubbing who knows what). Eventually it would begin to crumble away, which was OK since you got done what you needed to do. Too bad nowadays they seem to start crumbling almost instantly. That's when I decided to try to make my own version of a Magic Eraser.

• 1tsp. baking soda
• 1/2tsp. Borax
• 1/4tsp. super washing soda
 • 1/4tsp. salt
• 3/4C. hot water

- In a small bowl, stir all ingredient together until dissolved. 
- Dip a sponge into the cleaning solution & happily scrub away. Wipe surface off with a dry/damp cloth if needed. 

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are simply melamine foam, that when wet, act as a superfine sandpaper to scrub your messes away.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Simple Sunday: Seeing Green

My kids, a green bowl with banana slices & milk, my plant (that amazingly is still alive), my frog scouring pad holder, a construction paper shamrock & a green frog paint marker. (Clockwise)

Snacktastic Saturday: Homemade Shamrock Shakes

I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I love Shamrock Shakes. of course when you have a family of 5, those trips to McDonald's can get to be a bit pricey. Which makes me so happy that I know hoe to make them at home with just one extra ingredient. 

Simply add a bit of Creme de Menthe syrup (I use Torani) with the milk & vanilla ice cream. That's it! A little does go a long way, so trying to get that same green color will most likely be too minty for you. But even though it may not be as green, it still tastes just the same. If not better!

Fun Friday: Construction Paper Shamrock

I love to decorate for the holidays, but sadly, I don't have many when it comes to St. Patrick's Day. Unless you count the 50 million window clings (which I don't). But I do have plenty of construction paper, staples & kids who like crafts. And for the record, yes, I consider three kids plenty for me. 

I used green & yellow construction paper for my shamrocks.

•Cut the paper into strips lengthwise (we used a ruler as a guide, not the measurements, the ruler itself).
•Cut the yellow strips in half & the green strips about 3/4 of the way down. 
•Layer 4 strips, 2 long & 2 short, with the short ones on the outside. Staple one end in place. 
•Flip the yellow ends up to join together, followed by the green ends. Staple the ends together so that the paper strips now form a heart. 
•Join 3 or 4 of the "hearts" & staple or glue them together.
•Take 1 long green strip (full length), fold it in half & attach it for a stem. 
•Manipulate the paper into more of a shamrock shape.

Think It Thursday: Kiss Me, I'm Irish! (Not Really)

Kiss me, I'm Irish! Actually I'm not, but I do love St. Patrick's Day. And with Easter not immediately after, we really get the chance to show off our inner...Irish-ism. 

Now I don't go all out & dress head to toe in green, but a little bit (preferably a shirt) is a must. Corned beef & cabbage...must. Soda bread...must. Shamrock shake...must. Leprechaun hunt...must. Paper shamrocks...must. And of course there's Boondock Saints & a nightcap of some sorts with Irish Cream something or other, after the kids go to bed (usually it's just decaf coffee with some creamer). So I might as well be Irish, right? At least on St. Patrick's Day. 


Work It Wednesday: Perfecting a Forearm Stand

Let me say that gravity is not my BFF. We're more like casual acquaintances now. Which is a step up from not getting along at all. 

Let me explain a bit more. I have been dead set on perfecting my forearm stands lately. And well, let's just say that lots of practice will eventually get me there. Eventually. 

Luckily for me, I came across this YouTube video that was a tremendous help. Now I know exactly how far to place my hands away from the wall (I use the wall for support until gravity becomes my BFF) & how to properly align my hips.


Tasty Tuesday: Italian Clipper

I used to work in a cafe that had a sandwich called the Yankee Clipper. It was basically your average Italian sub with ham, turkey, pepperoni, mozzarella & pepper jack cheeses toasted on a hoagie roll & topped with lettuce, tomato & Italian dressing. Needless to say, the hubs always ordered them so I make them at home quite often now. Until one day, when I didn't quite have all of the ingredients, so I improvised. Which resulted in a whole new level of deliciousness. 

•hoagie bun
•Greek yogurt/cream cheese blend, softened
•dry Italian salad dressing mix
•crushed red pepper flakes, optional
•deli ham
•deli turkey
•mozzarella cheese
•fresh spinach
•thinly sliced tomatoes
•white onion, thinly sliced
•zesty Italian salad dressing

- Slice hoagie rolls in half lengthwise. Place cut sides up on baking sheet & place in 375º oven until lightly toasted. 
- While the hoagie buns are toasting, mix together the Greek yogurt/cream cheese blend, dry Italian dressing mix & crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Set aside. 
- When the buns are lightly toasted, remove from the oven. Set aside the tops & spread the Italian cream cheese blend on the bottom halves. 
- layer meats & cheese on the bottom halves & return to the oven until the mozzarella cheese is melty.
- To assemble, top bottoms with spinach, tomato, onion & zesty Italian dressing. Replace tops & enjoy!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Messy Monday: How to Make Your Faucets Shine

Nobody wants a dull or water spotted faucet. Of course, no one really wants to get in all the nooks & crannies with the chemical cleaner du jour either. At least i don't. Good thing it just takes a simple household product & a little bit of time to get the job done. 

If your faucet is in desperate need, soak a paper towel or two in vinegar & cover the faucet and handles thoroughly. Allow it to sit for 1-2 hrs, dampen the paper towel(s) again, wipe down the faucet & wipe dry with a microfiber towel. 

If you happen to be a bit OCD about keeping your faucets nice & shiny, just dampen a paper towel with vinegar, wipe your faucet & wipe dry with a microfiber towel. 

Simple Sunday: Getting Crafty

I have SO many different craft projects floating through my head. It's time to start bringing them all to life!

Snacktastic Saturday: Salami Wrapped Pickles

When I was planning Hayden's tea party for her birthday this past December, I asked some friends for some finger food ideas. That's when I first heard of "ham wrapped pickles". After the power of Google, I decided I would try them, with a couple of tweaks of course. Little did I know that we would devour half of them while preparing them. Now they're requested by someone at least once every couple of weeks. 

•salami, sliced relatively thin
•baby kosher dill pickles
•Greek yogurt/cream cheese blend (located right next to the cream cheese at the store)
•dry Italian salad dressing mix (I make my own with this go-to recipe)

- Start by taking your pickles & laying them on some paper towels to absorb the extra juice. They're easier to work with this way.
- Combine the Greek yogurt/cream cheese blend & dry Italian salad dressing mix. Set aside. 
- Slice the salami to a more rectangular shape & save the ends for another use.
- To assemble, spread a spoonful of the Italian cream cheese mixture on a piece of salami. Place a pickle at one end & roll. 
- Keep whole or slice in half. Secure with toothpicks if needed. 


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fun Friday: Rice Heating Pad

I love making gifts for others. Especially when the kids help. Which is why i though I had the perfect gift for my FIL & his bad back. A rice heating pad would be the best gift! (Little did I know how much of a pain it would be, oh the irony!)

Let me set the record straight. It was only a pain for two reasons. First, it's all sewn by hand since I don't have a sewing machine. Second, I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, let alone needle & thread. That said, the second reason led to the first reason being done multiple times. 

I had the pillowcases leftover from an old set of flannel sheets, so I thought they would be perfect with their outdoorsy theme. I took one pillowcase, folded it in half lengthwise & cut. I stitched together the open long side, leaving one short end for filling. But here is where my trouble started. Without thinking (obviously) I stitched what I had in half lengthwise again as a divider for the rice. Only I couldn't flip the fabric that way, so out came the trusty seam ripper. Because it was flannel, you could still see where the stitch I had just ripped out was. I decided to use that as a guide, but only kept it straight for about 2in. (I noticed that 6in. in). So I decided to keep it easy & place dividing seams the opposite way along the pattern. I wanted to make them smaller, but that whole straight line thing already had me defeated & i just wanted to finish the thing by this point. (My hands were begging for mercy!) So I ended up with three sections partially filled with rice, folded over the opening & stitched it shut.
I'll be honest, I wasn't very impressed with how the sections turned out since I wanted them lengthwise. But the kids had so much fun filling them with the rice & then playing the game "Who can pick up the most rice off the floor". Best yet, my FIL loved it & couldn't wait to use it on his...knee. I think i may have to attempt this again, but with the whole pillowcase if he's ever going to use it for his back (LOL).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love Cooking Company Presents: Mrs. Fields Cookie Cuttables & a Giveaway!

**Disclaimer: I have received products to try from Love Cooking Company & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Recently I discovered the art of the decorated cut-out sugar cookie. And when I say discovered, I mean I've made it a goal to perfect my cookie decorating skills. Which aren't very good to begin with, but I'll get there (someday). No doubt the pastry bag, case of decorating tips & mini squeeze bottles I just ordered today will help tremendously. Yep, I'm that level of determined! 

Of course as you can imagine, my cookie cutter collection has grown too. Too bad my kitchen hasn't, because I have them shoved wherever I can find space. In a bin I keep in a cupboard above the refrigerator, in the silverware drawer & the top shelf of my spice cupboard to name a few. Which basically just means that when I'm looking for one (or a few) specific cookie cutters, it's always the last place I look. Always. 

View this photo on Instagram!
Needless to say I was uber excited when I received the Easter themed Mrs. Fields Cookie Cuttables from Love Cooking Company. The reason being that it fits nicely in my cupboard. Actually, I could probably stack quite a few of them in my cupboard (hooray for no more digging through every nook & cranny in my kitchen!). And since that may not be reason enough for you to fall head over heels in love, you'll be happy to know that it works great too! Not to mention it gets bonus points for being dishwasher safe (top rack only).

Please excuse the shadows, the sun was out in full force!
I decided to make my go-to sugar cookie recipe to try my Mrs. Fields Cookie Cuttables on. The only thing I had an issue with, was rolling out the entire batch of dough so it would be large enough. And that was only an issue because I usually work in small batches. Why? I have no idea. (No wonder why I always dreaded actually making the cookies.) just an all around firm press & a slight jiggle (like any other cookie cutter), was all it took. There weren't even any cookies stuck in the cutters of the Mrs. Fields Cookie Cuttables waiting to be destroyed at my attempt to poke them out. Yea, I really had an issue making cut-out cookies before, in case it wasn't obvious to you.

Easter eggs, Easter bunnies & baby chicks...oh my!

Confession time! I have been taking the time to bake a batch of Easter cookies with my Mrs. Fields Cookie Cuttables about every other day or so. In way less than half of the time it took me before I might add (figuring in all the time that it took me to find the cookie cutters I needed too). Now I know it's not even St. Patrick's Day yet & Easter is more than a month away, but I had the best idea when I was making that first batch of cookies. In a couple of weeks, my friends & their families are coming over & we're going to decorate all of these cookies. It's going to be so much fun!

Want an Easter themed Cookie Cuttables by Mrs. Fields for yourself?  One lucky winner will get the chance!

The giveaway will conclude on at 12:00 a.m. est on Saturday 3/15/14. Winners will be announced via rafflecopter & in a separate blog post which will be published no later than 3:00 p.m. on Saturday 3/15/14. Winners will also be notified via email & announced on the Smith and Blessings facebook page. Winners will have 48 hours to submit shipping information, which will then be passed on to Love Cooking Company for distribution of product. If 48 hours has lapsed, a new winner will be picked & then will also have 48 hours to submit their information. *Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. 

Mrs. Fields Cookie Cuttables are available on and at Joann's Fabric Stores & Kitchen Collection (retail $9.99).

Keep up with the latest from Love Cooking Company on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Think It Thursday: Spring is Coming!

Spring officially starts in 2 weeks. 2 weeks! Can you believe it?! (It's about time!) And with the temperature today in NE Ohio reaching into the 40's , I have to say, it's quite nice. 

Of course this is March & like I said, it is NE Ohio, so I'm certain there's still more cold & snow ahead. But with the sun shining, grass showing & the temperatures above the freezing point...I can't help but get a little bit excited!


Warrior Poet Clothier & a Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

**Disclaimer: I have received products to try from Warrior Poet Clothier & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

We've all heard the saying that "the clothes make the man", but at Warrior Poet Clothier, they really do. Warrior Poets are balanced, stronger than most & more thoughtful than most. Natural leaders who posses wisdom & courage. They strive to save the day & love to the fullest. They are chivalrous knights, fearless samurai's & your sons. 

At Warrior Poet Clothier, their crusade is "Building Armor with a Flare for the Next Generation of Men". They want these young men to go farther, dream bigger & look good doing it. I don't think I've ever considered a clothing company as a role model before. Actually, I know I haven't. Until now. 

Positive messages aside, their clothing holds its ground alone. Short sleeve & long sleeve shirts, as well as hoodies, are available in a variety of sizes ranging from 2T-L (boys).

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Damien had the pleasure of wearing the "Boarrring" short sleeve t-shirt (retail $35), which quickly became a favorite. You know how it goes, as soon as you wash it, they have to wear it. I asked him why he loved it so much & he said "because it's orange & it's extra super comfy". I couldn't argue with him, it is orange & it really does look comfy. 

Made with 100% top quality combed cotton, the design on the tee is made with sustainable water based inks. Which means that there will be no cracking or peeling, even after numerous washings. 

The label is screen printed, foregoing the standard tags that can drive us crazy. What I love even more though, is that the washing instructions are clearly stated in large bold print. 

I also love the reverse cross-stitch hem. Actually, it was the first thing I noticed. And I know it doesn't really look like it, but it even has a lycra infused rib knit collar. 

Warrior Poet Clothier even made sure to use those little golden safety pins for their tags instead of those plastic strings that a majority of the population rip out & run the risk of damaging the clothing (myself included). 

With such careful construction & attention to detail, you're obviously wondering how it holds up in the wash. It looks as good as new in a cold water wash & low tumble dry setting. Well, new & loved (it does get worn roughly every 3-4 days after all).

Warrior Poet Clothier has given the readers of Smith and Blessings the chance to enjoy 30% OFF! Simply enter the code BL-Smith at checkout on their webstore.

But the generosity doesn't stop there!

The 6 styles are those pictured above: Chevron Icon, Lightening Shield, Keeping Things Private, I've Got Your Back, Sheriff Guitar, and Tomahawk.

6 selected t-shirt styles are listed in the Warrior Poet Armory for Spring Cleaning 2014. Use the code WP-Tee4Free during checkout, to get one t-shirt for FREE & just pay the shipping & handling. But hurry, they're Spring Cleaning their stock so it's a first come, first serve basis on the selected styles & sizes. 

Don't forget, if you can't grab one of the Spring Cleaning tees, look to see what else is in their webstore & use the 30% off code above. 

Keep up with the latest from Warrior Poet Clothier on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest & LinkedIn.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Work It Wednesday: Watercolor Nails

I don't paint my nails as often as I'd like... Oh who am I kidding, I hardly paint them at all anymore. So when i do get to polish them up, I want more than a solid color. So I decided to give watercolor nails a try.

Please ignore my awful paint job with the white polish. I mentioned I didn't get to paint them that often (so I'm kind of not very good at all).
OK, so mine look more like watercolor meets graffiti, but I kind of like them. They were super easy to do even though I was pressed for time & grabbed the wrong paint brush. Next time I'll add some more colors, grab the right brush & have a couple more minutes.

And just in case you wanted to know how to watercolor your own nails, you have to check out The Polished Mommy.

Tasty Tuesday: Hearty Crock-Pot Beef Stew

Ohio is thawing out from everything the Polar Vortex dumped on us, but it's still winter. Which means that this Hearty Crock-Pot Beef Stew is still acceptable for dinner any night of the week. 

*Remember to use desired amounts.*

•beef stew meat 
•garlic salt
•seasoned salt
•black pepper
•olive oil
•beef gravy mix
•dried minced onion
•garlic powder
•beef bouillon
•vegetable bouillon
•red potatoes, scrubbed & diced
•carrots, peeled & sliced
•celery, chopped
•onion, chopped
•salt & pepper
•splash of milk

- In a medium sized bowl, toss beef stew meat with flour until thoroughly coated. Season with garlic salt, seasoned salt & black pepper. Allow to sit for 10 min. 
- In a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, thoroughly brown beef stew meat in olive oil. 
- In crock-pot, whisk together brown gravy mix, dried minced onion, parsley, garlic powder & water. Add beef & vegetable bouillon along with browned meat.
- Cook on HIGH heat 3-4 hrs. 
- After 3-4 hrs, add red potatoes, carrots, celery & onion. Season with additional salt & pepper. 
- Cook on HIGH heat another 3-4 hrs. 
- Just before serving, mix a couple spoonfuls of cornstarch with a splash of milk. Carefully stir into beef stew. Turn heat OFF & allow to sit 2-5 min., stirring occasionally, until desired consistency is reached. 


Just Do Yoga by Julie Schoen

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. 

 As a beginner yogi, it can be challenging to learn poses. Sure I mean proper technique, but I also mean for the proper benefits as well. For instance, my beloved crow pose will aid in a flat tummy, but it won't help me sleep at night (much to my dismay). 

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Just Do Yoga: The Complete Yoga Guide To The Best Yoga Poses For Total Mind And Body Bliss, is written by Julie Schoen (a contributor of Yoginiology). This book breaks down poses along with some variations, categorizes flow sequences & even touches on the base of healthy living. With over 120 poses & 25+ expertly tailored yoga sequences, this book has something for every yogi.

•Good Night Yoga (Morning yoga for energized days.)
•Good Night Yoga (Evening yoga for a good night's sleep.)
•Flat Tummy Yoga (Sequences for burning calories, toning your tummy & strengthening your back.)
•Happy Back Yoga (Sequences to relieve back pain.)
•Stress Less Yoga (Sequences to relieve tension, get balanced & ground and soothe.)
•Super Immunity Yoga (Sequences to help improve health and wellness by boosting immunity.)
•At Office Yoga (Sequences to reduce the stiffness from sitting at your desk all day.)
•Get Fit Yoga (A Sequence that just screams summer!)

I can say that I've tried every flow sequence in this book. Some of the poses were a bit too difficult for me, but I just modified them a bit to my level. So while I do prefer some more than others (Flat Tummy Yoga sequence for burning calories is my BFF), I definitely saw the benefits of the sequences. 

Before this book, a yoga pose was just a yoga pose. of course it has benefits, but I didn't use them to aid me in my day. So now, even if I don't have time for a whole sequence, I can at least do a pose that is beneficial for what I need.For example, if it's a super stressful day, you can guarantee I'm going to bust out with a Parivrtta Utkatasana (revolved chair pose) at some point. 

Julie Schoen, crow pose

Aside from the obvious reasons to love this book, I am beyond grateful for the index of poses in both Sanskrit & English. As someone who wants to go far in developing a yoga practice, having the index to match to a photo of the pose is key for a visual learner like myself. 

So whether you're a beginner or even just thinking about how yoga could be beneficial for you, I highly recommend that you...Just Do Yoga.

Want it now? Just Do Yoga: The Complete Yoga Guide To The Best Yoga Poses For Total Mind And Body Bliss is available on Amazon (kindle & paperback with Prime shipping).

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.