Sunday, November 30, 2014

Simple Sunday: Christmas Lists


It's that time of year again!

Snacktastic Saturday: Cranberry Applesauce

Every Thanksgiving I go a bit crazy making cranberry sauce & always have a ton left over (one little bag of cranberries never seems like it's enough). But that's OK, because I always make a big crockpot of applesauce the day after too. 


Just combine some cranberry sauce with some applesauce & let it sit for a couple hours for the flavors to blend. 

Fun Friday: DIY Scented Pine Cones

My mom collects pine cones all year for me. Some are actually pretty big, making them a perfect compliment to my holiday decor. Especially if I make them scented with the sweet smell of cinnamon. 


• On a foil lined baking sheet, bake your pine cones at 225º for 45 min. This will not only kill any bugs or bacteria, but open the pine cones up as well. 
• Allow the pine cones to cool completely. 
• In a small spritz bottle, combine a bit of water with a few drops of essential or fragrance oil (you can use any scent you'd like, although cinnamon is a favorite this time of year).
• Spritz the pine cones & place them in a large resealable bag.
• Keep the pine cones in the bag for a week, giving a few extra spritzes every day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Warrior Poet: 2014 Black Friday Sale!

If you've been around my blog long enough, you may remember Warrior Poet, a clothing brand for boys that is hard not to fall in love with. Their clothing is not only stylish & durable, but each item has it's own positive message. 

Damien in his "Boarrring" t-shirt. 

Which makes me excited about their Black Friday sale! 


From now until the end of the day Cyber Monday (Dec. 1st), the entire Warrior Poet Armory will be on sale for buy one, get one free! Just use the code: BlkFriday at checkout!  


Think It Thursday: What I'm Thankful For

In the matter of a month, we'll be making resolutions of change for the year to come. But for now, we all make it a point to say what we're thankful for in the current year.


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Work It Wednesday: Stay Stylish & Comfortable This Holiday Season

Whether you're entertaining at home, going shopping or hitting up the company Christmas party, we all want to look our best (festively speaking of course). 

Here are four holiday style trends you can easily incorporate into your wardrobe. All while staying comfortable every step of the way. 

Oh Deer! 


Go Plaid


Sparkle Bright


Oversized Sweaters



Check out all of these pins & more, HERE. 

Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Fried Rice

Every now & then, I want some good ole' Chinese comfort food like Chicken Fried Rice. Good thing I've perfected my recipe over the years & don't even need to leave the comfort of my own home to get it. 


Ingredients:

• 4C. cooked rice
• 1/2lb. boneless skinless chicken breast pieces
• salt & pepper
• 6Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
• 1C. frozen peas & carrots
• 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 eggs
• 1/3C. soy sauce
• Sriracha, if desired

Directions:

• Heat 3Tbsp. sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
• Add chicken, season with salt & pepper and cook until done. 
• Set chicken aside.
• In the same skillet, heat remaining 3Tbsp. sesame oil.
• Add frozen peas & carrots, onion & garlic, cooking until tender & stirring frequently.
• Crack the eggs into the skillet & scramble into the vegetables. 
• Add the soy sauce, chicken & rice, stirring to combine. 
• Top with Sriracha, if desired.  

Messy Monday: Get Your House Party Ready in No Time

With the holiday season upon us, it's safe to say that company will be coming over at some point. Of course that doesn't mean that you need to keep your house immaculate at all times (which is nearly impossible anyways if you have small children). Actually, all you need is about 30 minutes & your house will look like you spent hours preparing for the arrival of your guests. 


Clear the clutter. Obviously picking everything up will make a huge difference, but if you don't have time to put it all away, don't worry. Pick a room & shut the door. The only time that this will not work, is if you just moved or remodeled your home. Everyone will want to see every inch of it then. 

Hit the "hot spots". Think of the areas where your guests will mostly hang out & give them a decent once over. (Living room, dining room, kitchen & the bathroom are the most common.)

Don't forget to sweep. Giving all of your floors a good once over with the broom, mop &/or vacuum will make a noticeable difference. 

Set the mood.  Light some candles, spray some festive air freshener, dim the lighting, set out a few holiday decorations if you haven't already & set out a platter of snacks. Your guests will think that you've been waiting on them to show up! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Simple Sunday: Happy Birthday to the Hubs


The big kid in the picture had his birthday today. If he didn't have to work all day I would've managed a more up-to-date photo. But since he did, the most recent will just have to do.

Snacktastic Saturday: Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm just going to cut to the chase with this Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I made this for the hubs birthday this year & it was a hit! Plus it was another excuse for me to eat something pumpkin flavored. 


Ingredients: 

• 2C. sugar
• 4 eggs
• 1C. oil
• 2C. pureed pumpkin
• 2C. flour
• 2tsp. baking powder
• 1tsp. baking soda
• 2tsp. cinnamon
• 1/2tsp. allspice
• 1/2tsp. ground ginger
• 1/2tsp. nutmeg
• 1/2tsp. salt
• 8oz. (1pkg.) cream cheese, softened
• 2Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
• tsp. pure vanilla extract
• splash of milk
• 2C. powdered sugar

Directions:

• Preheat oven to 350ºF.
• In a large bowl, cream together sugar, eggs, oil & pumpkin.
• Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg & salt.
• Pour mixture into a greased 9x13in. baking pan. 
• Bake for 35-45 min., or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 
• Allow cake to cool completely. 
• For frosting, beat cream cheese & butter together until combined. 
• Add vanilla, milk & powdered sugar 1/2C. at a time. 
• Spread frosting over cake. 
• Store covered, in the refrigerator. 

WORLDFOODS Recipe Swap: Patatas Bravas from Mum Reinvented

 This has to be one of the coolest posts I've ever posted. 

Remember my review on WORLDFOODS Sauces? (If not, check it out here.) Well, have I got something to tell you. 


In a pen-pal type setting, I was teamed up with Kat, a blogger from the UK & owner of Mum Reinvented. We chose to come up with our own Fusion-style dishes incorporating WORLDFOODS Sauces & simply share the recipes on each others blog (you can see my recipe here). Which honestly was the best choice considering that she is currently in Spain (I'm a tad jealous over here, LOL) & my shipment of sauces took much longer than expected. So without further ado, here is Kat's recipe!

Patatas Bravas

As I spend more time in Spain than the UK these days, I thought I would take a well known Spanish dish and transform it using the Asian influences from the World Foods range. I wanted something that was quick and easy and could be enjoyed by the whole family so I went with Patatas Bravas, or 'Brave Potatoes' to give them their English translation. These fiery potatoes are a staple on restaurant and tapas bar menus throughout Spain and are not only quick and easy to make, but cheap too, which makes them great for feeding a family.

I often serve Patatas Bravas with a roast chicken (the English influence coming through there), in smaller portions as part of a tapas style meal or even on their own. They are proper comfort food after all. Garlic Mayo or Alioli as it's known in Spain is another quick and simple menu item and goes really well with patatas bravas, tapas, as an alternative to sandwich spread or on steak.

The addition of the Thai sweet chilli dipping sauce to the tomato sauce gives it a really lovely sweet taste, with the kaffir lime adding a cheeky after bite. I usually just flavour my sauce with the sweet paprika for the kids and add a pinch of hot paprika for my partner and I, but even the kids wolfed this down and I actually prefer it to my own sauce. As for the garlic mayo, the hint of chilli running through the garlic paste gives it a slight kick and it makes a lovely smooth and creamy mayo that we all enjoyed. I'm surprised at how much of a difference these little tweaks made to a dish the kids wouldn't usually be that bothered about can actually make and have turned it into a real favourite. It just goes to show that adding something a little different can actually make a dish all the more enjoyable so don't be afraid to experiment with flavours and perhaps even try my recipe for Patatas Bravas yourself?


Ingredients:

• 1lb potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
• 1 tin/can of chopped tomatoes or tomato frito/passata
• 1⁄2 a red onion, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1tbsp sweet paprika
• Shop bought mayo
• World Foods garlic paste
• World Foods Thai sweet chilli dipping sauce with kaffir lime

 Directions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/375F/Gas Mark 7
2. Add a splash of olive or canola oil to a skillet/frying pan and brown the potatoes on all sides
3. In a smaller pan fry off the onions and garlic until soft in a little oil
4. Add the tomatoes, sweet chilli dipping sauce and paprika and reduce the sauce
5. Once browned, transfer the potatoes onto a baking tray and cook in the oven until crispy
6. In the meantime mix the mayo and garlic pasta in a small dipping bowl
7. Once cooked serve the potatoes in a dish with the spicy tomato sauce poured over and the garlic mayo on the side (or as we do on top).


 I have to say that I've never had Patatas Bravas before, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to get my hands on these particular WORLDFOODS Sauces as soon as I can because this dish looks amazingly delicious!





  Kat is a cake loving, serial dieting, history geek with wanderlust and mum of two - a toddler and a tween. Needless to say things are never boring (or quiet) in her house!Learn more about her here.





WORLDFOODS sauces are available worldwide, with a different selection available in each country. To find out the selection of sauces available in your country along with stockist details please visit HERE.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Old Factory Candle Gift Set & a Giveaway!

**Disclaimer: I have received products to try from Old Factory Candles & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.
 
I consider myself a candle snob of sorts. If there's even one issue with a candle, like not burning evenly or the scent disappears after just one lighting, I silently vow to never buy that brand again. On the contrary, if I love the candle, not only do I burn them every chance I get, but I gift them to my friends & family too.


Old Factory Candles are definitely my kind of candles! These candles are hand-poured in the US with natural soy wax. They contain a self-trimming cotton paper wick & boast 20 hours of even burn time. Which is pretty impressive for their 2oz. size. But what's more impressive are the scents created from the premium fragrance oils used. And of course they smell amazing every time you light the wick. 


The Winter Wonderland Gift Set contains Roasted Chestnut, First Snow & (my favorite) Hot Cocoa scented candles. I even opted for the gift wrapping from Amazon, to see for myself how it would make the perfect gift for anyone, anywhere. 


Winter Wonderland not your kind of scents? Well don't worry because there's also Fall Harvest, Happy Holidays, Romance, Fresh & Clean, Spa Day, Vacation, Coffee Shop, Man Cave, High as a Kite, New Born Baby & 50 Shades Gift Sets. (All sold exclusively on Amazon.)

Want an Old Factory Candle Gift Set for yourself (or someone special on your holiday list)?


One lucky winner will receive an Old Factory Candle Gift Set of their choice! 

Please note that you must have an Amazon account, as well as a Paypal account for shipping reimbursements if necessary, in order to claim your prize.

The giveaway will conclude on at 12:00 a.m. est on Saturday 11/29/14. Winners will be announced via rafflecopter & in a separate blog post which will be published no later than 3:00 p.m. on Saturday 11/29/14. Winners will also be notified via email & announced on the Smith and Blessings facebook page. Winners will have 48 hours to submit information, which will then be passed on to Old Factory Candles 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. Smith and Blessings is not responsible for prize shipment.
 *Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Every purchase is 100% guaranteed.

Fun Friday: Felt Coasters Perfect for Fall

I keep reminding the hubs that his drinks need to go on coasters when they're in the living room or bedroom. But there's just one problem. My coasters have been disappearing! Good thing a little felt & some embroidery thread solves the problem. 


To make a quick coaster, just cut out the shape you want & give it some detail with a needle & a bit of embroidery thread.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LG OLED TV is a Great Gift from Best Buy #HintingSeason

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

These days, technology is always big on holiday wish lists. At least in my house it is. And while my 8 year old may be a bit disappointed that she's not going to get a phone or a laptop, she may actually get a TV. On one condition, it would technically be for everybody. 

We're in the market to upgrade our TV & I have to admit that all of the options out there make my head spin. I actually like to go to Best Buy, tell them what it is I want (in no technological terms of course) & then have them show me what it is I want. It drives my hubs crazy since I'm always wanting to go to Best Buy, but it helps me stay up to date with what's on the market that I'd actually be interested in. (Not to mention it's saved us from buying something that was quite the opposite of what we wanted.) Well luckily for him, I don't actually need to go to Best Buy to have someone point out which model of TV I want. 


What is OLED TV?
The stunning design of LG OLED TV is only 0.21" thick at its thinnest point. Picture quality is spectacular, with Infinite Contrast that ranges from the most blazing whites to the deepest blacks. And, LG's exclusive 4 Color Pixel technology delivers bright, vibrant colors. Learn more here:LGOLEDatBestbuy.com
Your first kiss. A baby's first steps. The majesty of a desert sunset. Some things in life defy all explanation and must be experienced to be believed. Such is the case with LG's latest display technology. With deeper and richer colors, stunning contrast and ingeniously curved screens, it is unlike any technology you've ever seen, and it delivers a picture that exceeds your wildest imagination.
       •Infinite contrast ratio and stunning color - delivers more natural, lifelike viewing.
 •4 Color Pixel technology enhances color range and accuracy.
       •Super thin design (consider how to show visually)
        •Find content faster with webOS

 The LG OLED TV just blows my mind! Not only is the thinnest point equivalent to the thickness of a pencil, but the curved design would mean that there would be no more arguing over "prime" seating in our living room. And don't even get me started on the webOS! Netflix binges, dance tutorials on YouTube & shopping on Amazon from the comfort of my living room?! I think this would make the perfect gift for myself...I mean Paige. The perfect gift for Paige. *wink wink*

55" LG OLED TV $3499.99 (Save $500)

LG 55EC9300 SKU# 7846019 - OLED TV



Think It Thursday: Pros & Cons of Black Friday Shopping

Let me begin by saying that I have never been shopping on Black Friday before. There's just something about large groups of people going all kinds of crazy for the latest toy that deters me. Not that I changed my mind this year, but I decided to weigh out the pros & cons of Black Friday shopping. 


Pros:

• Sales! Some of the sale prices are insane! I've seen quite a few 50+in. TV's on sale this year for just a couple hundred dollars. 
Cons:

• The same sales sometimes start a day or two before Black Friday anyways, so most of the inventory is already gone. (At least this year a few of them did.)
There would be no sleeping Thanksgiving night in order to get the early bird deals.
• People can go all crazy like & start fights in the toy department.
• Cyber Monday has great sales too & you don't even need to leave you own house. 


Obviously the cons outweigh the pros for me, which means that I'll stick to my Cyber Monday shopping. 

Do you shop on Black Friday?

Work It Wednesday: No Fuss Holiday Hairstyles

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for the best No Fuss Holiday Hairstyles come this time of year. You know, for those couple days where I actually do my hair, but somehow only have five extra minutes to get ready. 

Luckily for you, I've already been scouring Pinterest! 

See this pin!
See this pin!
See this pin!
See this pin!
See this pin!
See this pin!
See this pin!
See this pin!
See this pin!

Which hairstyle is your favorite?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Quick & Easy Enchilada Pie

The hubs is a huge fan of enchiladas, but on busy nights when there's a million things to do, I opt to make Enchilada Pie instead. It still has that yummy enchilada taste, but takes far less time to prepare. And as an added bonus, the kids prefer this version just because it's a "pie".


Ingredients:

• 1lb. hamburger
• 2 small cans enchilada sauce
• nonstick cooking spray
• 6-8 flour tortillas
• 1 bag (2C.) shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
• sour cream & sliced green onions, if desired

Directions:

• In a large skillet over medium heat, brown hamburger & drain off any grease. 
• Add one can of enchilada sauce & simmer for 5-10 min. 
• In a glass pie pan, lightly spray nonstick cooking spray.
• Spoon just a bit of enchilada sauce from the second can on the bottom of the dish before layering tortilla, hamburger mixture & a pinch of shredded cheese. 
• Repeat layers until hamburger mixture is gone. 
• Top with remaining enchilada sauce & remaining cheese.
• Bake in a 375º oven for 20 min. or until the sauce is bubbling & the cheese is melted. 
• Allow Enchilada Pie to sit for 10-15 min. before slicing. 
• Top with sour cream & sliced green onions, if desired.  

Musical Monday: My Cleaning Playlist

I have to say that I'm really not a fan of cleaning. Unless I'm in one of those power-cleaning moods, it seems to take me forever to get even half of what I need to done. (of course the three year old "tornado" might have a little bit to do with that too.) But a little music always seems to get me in a cleaning mood. 


*My go-to songs are always changing, but these are my current faves.

• Barenaked Ladies: One Week
Iggy Azalea & Rita Ora: Black Widow
Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX: Fancy
Sia: Chandelier
Taylor Swift: Shake It Off
Taylor Swift: Blank Space
Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch: Good Vibrations
C+C Music Factory: Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Managing LBL, Light Bladder Leakage, with Poise


Thank you to Poise for sponsoring this post & keeping my confidant! 

I remember my last visit to my OB/GYN. My blood pressure had finally regulated from when I was pregnant (that only took 2½ years). But unfortunately, my bladder control had not. Fortunately for me, my doctor was taking the issue very serious in his practice & was happily showing me devices & information pamphlets on how to help with light bladder leakage & regain full control of my bladder. It had to have been the most embarrassing conversation I've ever had with my doctor. 

 
These days, I don't have to worry about light bladder leakage anymore, even though I experience it almost every day this time of year (thanks to that pesky little cough I get). 


Did you know that 1 in 3 women experience light bladder leakage? I know I didn't, mostly because it's a topic that's just not talked about. But thankfully, Poise is shouting from the rooftops about their Microliners, the thinnest liners ever!

Can you see how incredibly thin these Microliners are?! Amazing!

Made with SAM (Super Absorbent Material), these Microliners offer an incredible amount of absorbency considering how incredibly thin they are. Not to mention the fact that they're incredibly comfortable & it's almost like you're wearing nothing at all!


I can't even begin to count the times in just the past week that these have saved me from complete embarrassment. So much so, that I've stocked up on Poise Microliners. At least enough to get through the holiday season confidently & worry free.


If you experience LBL (light bladder leakage) & want to exude confidence, be sure you get your free sample of Poise Microliners today!

Simple Sunday: Mother & Son Glow Bowling


I know this is far from the best picture, but in the chaos, this was the best picture that I got (not to mention the only one from the front, LOL). But my kindergartner & I had a blast at our first Mother & Son Glow Bowling event put on by the school PTO! Next year, I'll hopefully be the one with the higher score too (bowling is definitely not like riding a bike.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Snacktastic Saturday: Simple Chicken Parmesan Pizza

Oh my goodness, this Simple Chicken Parmesan Pizza is not only incredibly simple to make, but insanely delicious too. Which makes it perfect for an afternoons snack for the family, lunch for you, or dinner when you really don't feel like putting forth an effort. 



Ingredients:

• breaded chicken fingers
• garlic bread 
• pizza sauce
• shredded mozzarella or pizza blend cheese
• Italian seasoning
• garlic powder
• salt & pepper

Directions:

• Start by cooking the breaded chicken fingers according to package instructions. 
• Prepare the garlic bread according to package instructions also, but shorten the baking time by 2-3 min. 
• Remove garlic bread from the oven & top with pizza sauce, sliced breaded chicken fingers, cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt & pepper. 
• Return to the oven & bake for 2-3 min., before finishing off under the broiler until the cheese just begins to brown.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fun Friday: Pumpkin Planter

I'm usually not one to have houseplants because they tend to not survive in my care. But I do have one, which I actually split into three over the Summer (after all, it has survived a couple of years now). And while I was decorating for Thanksgiving, I decided to put one of them in their very own pumpkin planter. 


I just scooped out the insides as best as I could, sprayed it all with a bleach & water mixture (1:5 ratio) & let it dry for a few hours before placing my plant in it. The pumpkin turned out to be the same size as my pot, so it fit perfectly. And hopefully, with a few occasional sprays, the planter should last up to a week.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Think It Thursday: Family History

Every now & then I go back to working on my family history. I'm not really getting anywhere anymore, but could if I spent some serious time on it. Of course this is just on my Grandpa's side of the family. I never really gave a thought to researching my Grandma's side, until my Aunt posted something about it on facebook. 

It seems that my Uncle had sent her some info on the Stamps Cemetery, also known as "The Witch's Graveyard".

Graves from the 1800's have two giant slabs of rock in a tent formation over the spot where the body is buried. Small triangles of stone prop up the slabs, while a headstone and smaller stone cap off the head and foot of the structure.

John Anderson Stamps & his wife, Sarah Isabelle Roberson Stamps are buried in the family cemetery in Putnam County, Tennessee (near Monterey), which dates back to, well I'm not entirely sure yet. John & Sarah Isabelle were the grandparents of Lawrence Duel Stamps, who married my great grandma, Ruth Ledbetter, who had my beloved grandma, Barbara Anne & my great uncle, Morris Duel. 

I actually remember being down in Tennessee with my grandparents for a huge family reunion, when my great uncle Morris took my cousin Joe & I for a drive in his classic car to the family cemetery. 

Now I'm interested in learning more about the Stamps family, along with all of the stories that go along with the Stamps Cemetery.