Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's Party Time!

Christmas time = party time for pretty much everyone I know.  The entire month of December is a great time to gather with friends, drink wine, eat too much food, indulge in sweets, and bake your buns off.  Am I right or am I right?
So it's no surprise that I was excited to take part in the Pillsbury Potluck Party brought to me by MyBlogSpark.  I gathered with a few friends and family members to try out some easy and delicious Pillsbury recipes.  We tasted, talked, shared ideas, and then tasted some more.  These recipes were seriously gooooooood.  Here are a few of the yummys that we enjoyed:

Crescent Cranberry Wreath, made by yours truly. (me!)

Monkey Bread with Caramel (this is to-die-for... not kidding!)

*Images are from the Pillsbury website... my card reader is not currently working so I don't have any photos of the actual food I made and served.* 

My guests and I had a great time making and tasting these recipes, and I'm planning to whip up a few more for my upcoming cookie swap this week.  There are many other delicious recipes that ya'll should check out over at Pillsbury.  Guaranteed to save you time, your guests will think that you were a slave to the kitchen!

I was sent a gift card to help purchase items for my party, as well as money saving VIP coupons for me and my guests.  Lucky for you, I've got a few coupons left so I've decided to turn this into a giveaway!  To enter do the following:  Head on over to The Pillsbury Website and return here to leave me a comment telling me what recipe you'd like to try.  Here's what you'll be entered to win: (2) lucky readers will receive a set of 5 VIP free Pillsbury product coupons.

You can do some or all of the following to earn some extra entries:
  • Become a follower of Thou Shall Not Whine (3 extra entries!) *Just click the little "follow" button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave me 3 additional comments stating, "follower #1, follower #2, etc."
  • Follow my blog on Facebook (2 extra entries) *click on the networked blog button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave 2 additional comments stating that you did!*
  • Grab my button and display it on your blog (2 extra entries!)
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to it. (2 extra entries!)
  • Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post. (leave an additional comment here to count as your entry!)
This giveaway starts now and will conclude on Monday, December 19th at 11:59pm. -Yes, this giveaway will only last for 2 days, so hurry up!  Winner will be selected via and contacted via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.

*Disclosure:* The Pillsbury product, information, food ideas, online coupon link, and prize pack have been provided by Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Don't want to wait to see if you've won?  Want a $1.10 coupon now?  Here ya go:

Cheerios Cheer Winner Announcement

Sorry I'm late in finishing this giveaway.  We've had a lot going on lately, and my computer time has (sadly) suffered greatly.  Anyway, congratulations to Post #2, Tammi, who said: "I was married to a Marine. We had four children and made lots of sacrifices for our country. My children and I know firsthand what military families go through when their family deals with a deployment and separation." -Right on, Tammi.  Thanks for all that YOU did.  I've sent Tammi and email requesting shipping info.  Thanks again to General Mills and MyBlogSpark for offering this giveaway to my readers!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cards of Christmas Pasts

Christmas cards are super important to me.  I love creating just the right card with just the right picture to send out to all our family and friends near and far.  I love receiving them just as much as I do giving them, and I save all the photo cards to revisit in years to come.  Ever since I can remember I've loved Christmas cards.  As a kid the month of December was very exciting to me.  (aside from the fact that the guy dressed in a red suit delivered a whole bunch of new stuff at the end of the month)  I always tried to be the first to the mailbox so I could open the cards that came that day.  I didn't care if it was addressed to the whole family or just my mom and dad, I opened and cherished them all.

This enthusiasm over Christmas cards has only increased as I grew up and started a family of my own.  I remember our first Christmas with Joey, then 5 months old.  I propped up my cute little redheaded baby day after day in cute Christmas onesies until I got just the right picture.  Seriously, I'm not exaggerating... I think I have over 200 photos of Joey for our first Christmas card.  Here are the (surprisingly ordinary) ones we ended up using:

Now to you (the untrained eye) these two pictures probably just look like any other happy little baby dressed in red & white.  And with just 1 kid... how hard could it be?  But believe me, I had to work for those smiles.  Any mom will agree that it isn't easy to get your non-sitting little one to look at the camera, not drool, not droop their head, keep spit-up at bay, and smile

The following year Joey was a crazy little toddler with 2 baby sisters on the way.  (Yes, just 12 months after his first Christmas I was 5 months pregnant with twins. -you do the math!)  My patience was tested as I tried to get yet another just-right Christmas card picture.  Here's a few that didn't make the cut:

Look closely; Not even a cookie could convince him that this was OK.

"I am Joey, hear me rooooooaaaaaar!"

"You want me to do what?"

"Ooooooh... smile!  Don't think so, mom.  How's this?"

And finally one that did land on the Christmas card:

Oh how I love that little guy.  Sigh. 

2009 was a challenging year for so many reasons.  Getting the right Christmas card photo was no exception.  My camera was stolen the day after Thanksgiving right out my car.  We were in a tough financial situation and didn't have the means to replace it immediately.  With a borrowed camera I managed to get 3 individual shots of my kids to piece together a Christmas card, although I was not overly excited about the fact that it was our first Christmas with 3 children and I couldn't get a picture of all 3 together that looked halfway decent to send out.  Here's my attempt at a group shot of our 2 year old and 7 month old twins:

Yeah, no.  That was clearly not going to work out.  So I settled for these poor-quality images instead:




Last year I was determined to get a picture of all three kids in their Christmas outfits for an adorable Christmas card to send to my list of 50 closest family and friends.  After a night of Christmas parties and sugared sweets, my kids were in the perfect mood for a group photo shoot.

Or maybe not.

I instead opted for some great individual images of my sweeties that I took during the month of November at a local park.  Perfect blue eyes, happy smiles, and clean faces made my card almost perfect.  I loved the fall colors in the background, and the girls wore a couple of momma-made outfits!

As for this year's photo, I did manage to get one of all three together.  Hurray!  It's not completely perfect, but what picture of 3 crazy kids is?  So I guess it not being perfect makes it perfect for me.  I know that statement probably doesn't make sense but this is my blog and it makes sense to me, so there.

I'm not sharing the picture here because I haven't sent out the cards yet, and I don't want to ruin the thrill factor for any other Christmas Card Enthusiasts out there.  However, once I'm sure all the cards have reached their destination I will post the picture here for all you lovely blog readers to see. (crafters beware... I see some inspiration coming your way!)

Well, this post is significantly longer than I anticipated and my hubby is off to go watch Football so I'm back to my mommy duties.  Since I worked so hard to share these pictures with you, I think ya'll should do a little work and leave me some comment love... tell me about your Christmas card adventures!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cheerios Cheer Giveaway

Cheerios have been a huge hit in my house for a long time.  This wholesome cereal is probably a "first food" for pretty much any baby, and my kids were no exception.  They still love a bowl of Cheerios with or without milk, in a baggie in the car, or as a snack while waiting for dinner to be ready.
One of the reasons I was excited to participate in this giveaway provided by General Mills and MyBlogSpark is because not only does my family love Cheerios, but now through November 2012 you can purchase specially marked boxes of Cheerios to support and honor our service men/women and their devoted families.

When our troops are called to serve, their families are called upon as well.  Military families live a different life than most of us, with extraordinary commitment to our country.  To thank them, Cheerios and the USO have partnered in a postcard campaign that spreads Cheer directly to these honorable military families and supports USO programs.  Here are the details on how you can get involved:
  • Now through November, 2011 at your local grocer, specially-marked boxes of Cheerios cereal will feature Cheer postcards on the front of the box. Consumers can simply cut out the postcard from the Cheerios logo, write a message of thanks on the back, add a stamp and mail the pre-addressed card to the USO. The USO will deliver the Cheer card to military families across the country.
  • For each postcard received through November 2012, Cheerios will make a $1 donation to the USO to help fund programs that support military families.
  • To kick off the campaign, Cheerios has already donated $150,000 to the USO and will donate up to an additional $100,000 based upon the number of postcards received from specially marked boxes now through November 30th, 2012.
To spread the word about this awesome way to spread "Cheer," I've got a great prize pack to give away to one of my awesome readers from General Mills through MyBlogSpark.  One lucky winner will receive a specially marked box of Cheerios, a Cheerios bowl, spoon, and cool dispenser.

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment telling me how a Military member or family has affected your life.  I'm keeping this one short and simple... one entry per person.  The giveaway starts now and will end on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 11:59pm.

Disclaimer: Cheerios cereal, information, and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kroger Gift Card Winner

Sorry I'm late... I spent the weekend pigging out and shopping & didn't get to the computer much.  Congratulations to post #9, JC who said, "I'm a follower 3."  I sure hope you enjoy your gift card!  Many thanks to all who entered and MyBlogSpark & General Mills for offering this great giveaway on Thou Shall Not Whine!

Kid's Say the Darndest Things

Olivia was playing in the playroom and decked herself out in all the fancy princess gear she could find: sparkly shoes, a crown, a princess cloak, etc.  She walked over to show me and said in her own sometimes-difficult-to-understand dialect, "I'm a princess mommy."  Joey took one look at her and said, "what's a butt-chops?"  I couldn't help but laugh.

I'm pretty sure that he was just looking for yet another reason to throw the word 'butt' into normal conversation, but it was very funny nonetheless.  I just hope my kids don't start walking around calling every princess item they see 'butt-chops.'

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kroger Milk Promotion & Gift Card Giveaway

I love the holiday season for so many reasons.  One of the reasons is I love a good deal, and there seem to be so many of them out there this time of year.  From shopping malls to toy stores, to drug store deals to grocery stores... pretty much everywhere you shop you're bound to find something that you want at a really good price.
The Kroger Family of Stores is no exception to this phenomenon.  They are well known for having all kinds of great promotions year-round, and right now they have a good one featuring General Mills Products.  Here's the deets:
    • From November 13th through November 26th, with the purchase of any four participating General Mills products, you will either receive free milk (up to $3; limit of 2) or $3 off your shopping order.
    • Look for some of your favorite participating General Mills products like Cheerios, Pillsbury Ready to Bake Cookies, Nature Valley Bars and Fiber One Bars
    • Promotion varies in different locations. Please be sure to check your local Kroger Co. Family of Stores for specific deals and offers which include Kroger, Ralphs, King Scoopers, City Market, Dillons, Smith’s, Fry’s, QFC, Baker’s, Owen’s, Jay C Food Stores, Hilander, Gerbes, Food4Less, Fred Meyer, Pay Less Supermarkets and Scott’s Food & Pharmacy
And as if that alone is exciting enough, Thou Shall Not Whine has teamed up with MyBlogSpark to offer my fabulous readers a chance to win a $25 Kroger Gift Card.  They sent me one already, and it sure is going to come in handy while I'm out shopping for my Thanksgiving supplies this weekend.  I seriously can't think of anything better to win during the holiday season than a gift card to help pay for groceries!

To enter in the giveaway, leave me a comment telling me your favorite General Mills Product.  Then do some or all of the following for additional entries:
  • Become a follower of Thou Shall Not Whine (3 extra entries!) *Just click the little "follow" button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave me 3 additional comments stating, "follower #1, follower #2, etc."
  • Follow my blog on Facebook (2 extra entries) *click on the networked blog button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave 2 additional comments stating that you did!*
  • Grab my button and display it on your blog (2 extra entries!)
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to it. (2 extra entries!)
  • Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post. (leave an additional comment here to count as your entry!)
This giveaway starts now and will conclude on Friday, November 25th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be selected via and contacted via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.
*Disclosure:* The Kroger Gift Card and information have been provided by Kroger and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Winner Announcement! Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Prize Pack

The winner is comment #137, Lisa who said, "I'm following you on GFC user WWillows6."  Thanks for following, Lisa, I hope you'll be back!  And I really hope you enjoy this fantastic prize pack filled with fun stuff for your kitchen!  For those of you who didn't win... I've got several more giveaways coming soon so stay tuned to Thou Shall Not Whine for more great chances to win!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Mighty Mastermind

My kids seem to fight a lot with each other these days.  They argue over what to watch on TV, who had what toy first, who is going to sit on the potty first, what kind of snack they want mommy to get them from the pantry, etc. etc. etc.  Sometimes it feels like it's a never ending battle in here.  They also play with each other a lot too though, so I guess that's good.  I think that as much as it kills him to share is stuff, Joey genuinely enjoys having little sisters to play with, boss around, and manipulate.  Yes, I said manipulate.  Joey has become quite a little mastermind in getting his sisters to play under his terms.

In the following pictures Joey is playing with his collection of cars and Olivia is desperate to play too.  Not really wanting to share his treasured vehicles, the conversation went something like this:

Me, from across the room: "Joey, Olivia wants to play too, give her a car to play with."
Joey: "OK.  Olivia do you want a purple car because purple is your favorite color?"
Olivia: "Yes."
Joey: "Sorry, I don't have a purple car.  Go find something else to play with."
Olivia, (whining): "I want car Joey."
Me: "Joey, let her play with a car please."
Joey: "OK, I will.... Olivia, do you want a sparkly car because you love sparkles?"
Olivia: "Yes."
Joey: "Sorry, I don't have any sparkly cars. I guess you can't play with these."

Olivia, being passive as usual just stood there because his explanations were actually making sense to her. If only Joey had a purple sparkly car she could play too.  But he doesn't, so she was left on the sidelines looking longlingly at his massive collection of cars that she couldn't use because they weren't purple or sparkly.

Finally I told Joey that he was to give Olivia any car.  It didn't matter what color or whether it was sparkly or not.  He obliged, and the two played peacefully together for all of 30 seconds until both lost interest and moved on to something else.

This entire encounter was so funny to me because neither of them really got upset or frustrated.  Being the older brother defintely puts Joey at an advantage in this house in so many ways.  He's the first to get to do things on his own, he gets the more exciting toys, and gets to hang out with mommy in the afternoon while the girls have to nap.  Being able to manipulate his way out of sharing his toys was new for me to witness, but I have to say I was impressed by his clever reasoning skills, and in the end I was proud that there was no fighting, crying, or whining, and Olivia got to play too.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid Review & Giveaway

For the record, I hate doing dishes.  Like seriously hate it.  There are several things about being in the kitchen that I enjoy.  Cooking, for example, I enjoy.  Baking, I enjoy that as well.  Eating? Clearly from the size of my *ss one can I gather that I enjoy that probably a little too much.  I'm a big fan of using fun new gadgets, white dinnerware, and getting new stuff to try out.  But the final step in the kitchen -the cleanup, dish scrubbing, soaking, dishwasher loading/unloading process, etc. I don't care for at all.

However, like many duties that go along with running a household doing dishes is an unavoidable chore that all of us must face at least once a day.  So I was happy when MyBlogSpark contacted me to try out some Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid to feature on my blog.  In addition to 4 bottles of dish soap in 4 great scents, they also sent me some great items to help that whole "doing the dishes" thing go a bit smoother. And if you are a good chicken and keep reading, maybe you'll be my lucky winner and get a prize pack filled with goodies for your dish-doing delight...

Seventh Generation dish liquid is available in 4 varieties: Free & Clear, Lavender Floral & Mint, Fresh Citrus & Ginger, and (my personal favorite) Lemongrass & Clementine Zest.  Aside from smelling great, working well on my dishes, and not drying out my hands, the scents all come from authentic ingredients grown in real fields!  No factory-made synthetic stuff here. 

Learn more and enter the “Nature Makes Perfect Scents” sweepstakes at  You and a guest can have the chance to take a trip to visit one of the sourcing sites of Seventh Generation natural dish liquid fragrance ingredients. Visit to learn more about each scent’s origin.

Finally, for the super-dooper exciting part.... the GIVEAWAY. (super-dooper is Joey's favorite phrase these days and it's really growing on me so you'll probably see it a lot... that's the glory of reading mom-blogs... they're filled with totally awesome 4-year old vocabulary highlights.)  Anyway, here's the deal:

One lucky winner chosen at random will receive a prize pack for their very own, courtesy of MyBlogSpark and Seventh Generation.  This will include:
  • (4) bottles of Seventh Generation natural dish liquid varieties in Free & Clear, Lavender Floral & Mint, Fresh Citrus & Ginger, and Lemongrass & Clementine Zest scents.
  • Premium 3 Qt. 12” x 9” Baking Dish from Le Creuset©
  • (2) Twist© loofah sponges and (2) Twist© scour pads made from 100% post-recycled materials.
  • Set of 3 organic cotton dish towels.

This is a pretty awesome prize pack in my opinion... aside from the 4 bottles of dish soap, the baking dish is of an amazing quality and I can't wait to use it. -I haven't done ANY cooking this week... I'm sick with Strep and an ear infection so my kids have been living off of junk food.  However, when I am cooking again I can't wait to use this dish. I have used the scour pads for scrubbing a couple of left-on-the-stove-all-night mac & cheese pans with stuck on processed cheese product, and they truly worked great. (with the help of Seventh Generation dish liquid, obviously)  And who doesn't need some new dish towels?  Awesome, right?  We sure did... many of ours are from before we got married in 2004, so new ones are very exciting.

Anyway, you probably know the drill with my giveaways, but I'll post the rules here anyway:

There is never anything special you have to do for the first entry.  Just leave me a comment and tell me why you'd like this prize pack.  You can go a few extra steps out of your way to earn up to 10 extra entries though, and you do that by doing some or all of the following:
  • Become a follower of Thou Shall Not Whine (3 extra entries!) *Just click the little "follow" button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave me 3 additional comments stating, "follower #1, follower #2, etc."
  • Follow my blog on Facebook (2 extra entries) *click on the networked blog button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave 2 additional comments stating that you did!*
  • Grab my button and display it on your blog (2 extra entries!)
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to it. (2 extra entries!)
  • Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post. (leave an additional comment here to count as your entry!)
This giveaway starts now and will conclude on Friday, November 18th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be selected via and contacted via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.
*Disclosure:* The Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid prize pack, product and information have been provided by Seventh Generation through MyBlogSpark.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Absolute Sweetness

While browsing files on my laptop tonight I somehow came across this photo of me and my sweet girl.  I'm rarely in any photos with my kids (since I'm usually the one taking them), and I had actually forgotten all about this one of Olivia and I.  My dear friend Marija took it last Christmas during our too-short holiday visit.  She then emailed it to me, I saved it in some random folder on my laptop and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to find it tonight.  So I decided I'd post it here to share it with ya'll.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Libby's Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to post #80, amp who said, "We make a lot of apple crisps and muffins." Well, you can certainly make a lot of that now with your new muffin tin, mixing bowls, and spoonulas!  Enjoy!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway.  I hope that some of you try the recipes from featuring yummy and convenient Libby's fruits and vegetables.  Stay tuned for more great giveaways in the coming weeks. 

*If you represent, sell, or make a product that you'd like to see featured on Thou Shall Not Whine, please contact me ASAP at  I'm working on a Holiday Promotion and am currently seeking products and companies to include.

I Love Mac & Cheese

Seriously, I do.  Next to ice cream, good macaroni and cheese is probably my biggest weakness when it comes to eating unhealthily.  I have favorite brands of course, and typically buy the name-brand, but every now and then I'll try to pass of a generic-brand mac & cheese dinner to my kids to save a few bucks.  (more like save a few quarters... I know it's not expensive but I'm cheap, OK?)  More importantly, I know that feeding them sub-par, generic mac & cheese will make me less likely to eat it from the serving spoon directly out of the pan.

Well that theory went out the window at dinnertime last week.

After I passed out the plates to my hungry, hungry hippos, I took a taste. (straight from the cooking spoon nonetheless...)  Embarrassingly enough, I then lapped up that Great Value brand Spirals mac and cheese like a rescue cat would when given it's first fresh taste of warmed milk at the SPCA.

To make matters worse when Katelyn and Olivia both announced that they wanted more, I had to guiltily admit to the fact that there was no more.  "Mommy, you ate it all?" was Katelyn's response.  "Yes, Katelyn.  Your pig of a mother with no control over cheesy goodness finished off the box of mac and cheese that was supposed to be your nutritionally-sound, well-balanced evening meal.  Would you like some applesauce instead?"  So not cool, I know.

But I have to say, it was good while it lasted.  It's a rare occurrence in this house when all three kids enjoy eating the same thing.  And clearly they were enjoying themselves.  Look:

And no, I was not paid in any way, shape, or form by Walmart for this blog post.  I'm just sharing with the world that I have a child-like love for mac & cheese and I was pleasantly surprised with the fact that the $0.57 box of Great Value brand Spirals mac & cheese turned out to be sinfully delicious.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Libby's Fruits & Vegetables Recipe Review & Giveaway

Fall has arrived and the temperatures are cooler. (Thank God, after the hot North Carolina summer we've had.)  What better way to warm up that chill in your house by turning on the oven and doing some baking?  Fall is a great season for baking just about anything, and recently I was asked to try out some new recipes featuring Libby's Fruits and Vegetables.  These Carrot Cake Bites are the perfect tiny treat for your family this fall:

These tasty little muffins are made with whole wheat flour, as well as being lower in sugar and fat than many other recipes out there.  My kids love them, which speaks volumes since they ususally just throw whatever I make for them on the floor.  And the recipe is fun and simple enough that my 4-year old was thrilled to be able to help!

Recipe here:

Carrot Cake Bites
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ c fat-free milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 14.5 oz. can Libby’s Sliced Carrots, drained, rinsed and masked with a fork
1. Coat two mini-muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together oil, sugar, milk and eggs.
4. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir just until combined.
5. Gently stir in carrots.
6. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of batter into each cup of mini muffin pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Repeat with remainder of batter.

If desired, stir together a simple icing of 1 tablespoon orange juice, ½ teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup powdered sugar.

Libby's has a great recipe database that can be found here:  They also have all kinds of great tips for keeping your family close during this season, shopping on a budget, and nutritious information.

Now for the exciting part... Libby's has put together a great prize pack to ship out to one of my faithful readers.  The lucky winner will receive a whole bunch of Libby's products, a set of Kitchenaid Mixing Bowls, a Mini Muffin Pan, and a set of trendy Rachel Ray Spoonulas.

To be entered for this giveaway just leave me a comment on this post telling me your favorite Fall recipe to bake with your kids.  My usual giveaway rules apply... as in the more you read and become involved in my blog the more entries you can earn...
  • Become a follower of Thou Shall Not Whine (3 extra entries!) *Just click the little "follow" button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave me 3 additional comments stating, "follower #1, follower #2, etc."
  • Follow my blog on Facebook (2 extra entries) *click on the networked blog button on the right-hand sidebar, then leave 2 additional comments stating that you did!*
  • Grab my button and display it on your blog (2 extra entries!)
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to it. (2 extra entries!)
  • Leave a comment on a non-giveaway post. (leave an additional comment here to count as your entry!)
This giveaway starts now and will conclude on Friday, November 5th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be selected via and contacted via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen.
*Disclosure:* I was provided a promotional package featuring Libby's products free of charge for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smart Snacking: I'm Nuts About Nuts *Santé Nuts Review & Promo Code*

Who doesn't like a good nut?  And I'm not talking about the 'crazy friend of a friend' kind that gives us all plenty to gossip about.  I'm talking about a good, old fashioned, crunchy, delicious nut.  Pecans, Walnuts, Almonds, etc.  Gotta love 'em, right?  Unless, of course, you're one of the unfortunates who's allergic.  But I'm not, so let's keep going.
Recently I was sent a beautifully packaged box of Santé Nuts with 4 delicious varieties of nuts to sample and share my opinion of on my blog.  Now, I'm a sucker for nice packaging, and this one was no exception.  I loved the way I opened the neat display case to find each bag of nuts tucked away in it's own little nook.  I also thought the colors of the bags were pretty.  OK, ok, enough about the packaging... (sorry, got carried away there for a sec!)  let's get on to what I thought of the nuts.

Sampler Pack

I was tempted to immediately open each bag and indulge in all 4 flavors.  I didn't.  In fact, one bag is still in-tact, as I have special plans for that one!  The first one I tried, and my favorite thus far is the Candied Pecans.  These were so deliciously sweet, without compromising any of the crunch or authentic Pecan flavor that I love so much.  Oh, and did I mention that these were ENORMOUS and not a single one was broken?  Genius, in my opinion.  Perfect for a sweet treat at the end of the day, or basically anytime.

Candied Pecans
A few days later I tried the Garlic Almonds.  I love the crunch of Almonds, and these are roasted and seasoned to make for a great snack.  My husband had to get in on this one, as they had a good amount of kick to them.  He polished off the bag in no time during a Sunday Afternoon Football Marathon.  I could totally see myself sprinkling these over a salad with a cool cucumber ranch dressing.  Course I didn't get to try this, since he polished off the bag.  Guess I'll have to order some!

Garlic Almonds
2 other flavors that were sent to me are the Candied Walnuts, which I were a hit as I served during a family gathering, and the Roasted Salted Pecans. Those are the ones I'm saving to use in my world-famous Sticky Buns that make their appearance but once a year on Christmas morning.

So, are ya'll ready to get your nuts on?  Well I've got a deal for you...  Santé Nuts has been gracious enough to offer my readers 25% off their entire purchase from now until December 16th, 2011.  Their prices are reasonable, and using this coupon code makes for a great deal!  Here's your code: 2011-Blog-059

Disclaimer: Santé provided free samples of their nuts for this post. My participation is voluntary and my opinions, as always, are my own.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I love making stuff.  Crafts, clothes for my kids, recipes, pretty much anything.  Even framing a picture and hanging it on the wall gives me that same sense of accomplishment.  The problem with loving to make things is that I feel like I hardly ever have the time to do so.  And let me tell you, not having the time to channel my inner creative goddess can be super frustrating... Between taking care of my kids, working part time, keeping my house kind of clean, getting dinner on the table, tutoring a neighborhood kid twice a week, and everything else I try to juggle, I'm usually exhausted at the end of the day and just have zero energy to do anything other than play on the computer or watch TV. (or both, usually simultaneously.)  Although I always have a project I'd like to create, I rarely have it in me at the end of the day to go digging through closets for supplies and start much of anything.

Today was a special day for more than one reason.  First of all, my husband's parents arrived for a 4 day visit with us and the kids.  These visits are always jam-packed with tons of hugs, kisses, songs, stories, playtime, and fun.  While our time together always passes to quickly, somehow the memories we create keep us connected until next time.  So while our beloved Nana and Pop-Pop quickly became the main attraction for the day, I cashed in on the opportunity to actually accomplish something in the daylight hours!

I saw this adorable idea at a friend's house when I went to my sewing group last week.  On my way out the door and back to my car I peeked under the sheet to find out how she made it.  And after a few DIY tutorials that I came up with after googling "tomato cage ghosts," I was ready to give it a try.  I did not take pictures of my process, because although I blog about crafts that I make this is not a crafting blog, and I simply can't be bothered to drop what I'm doing to try to get some great quality images taken at a strategic angle in awesome lighting with a canvas backdrop.  If you want a tutorial, I recommend this one from Lowes Home Improvement Store.  And then just Google it.  You'll figure it out in no time, I promise.

I did go outside after dark though so I could share how cute my new Halloween decorations are:

The best part is that these can be used year after year, and the total cost was probably about 13 bucks.  (would have been cheaper if I had thought about going to the thrift store for the sheets up until now!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mommy, Will You Paint My Nails?

Having children of both genders is so much fun.  We really get the full spectrum as far as things that our kids are into, and have a full range of both "boy" & "girl" toys in our house.  I've never discouraged my son from playing with dolls, kitchen sets, or putting on tutus and princess costume jewelry at playtime.  Furthermore, it does not phase me when my daughters play with trucks, dig in dirt, or run around with a football in the backyard.  Like most modern parents, I am unconcerned with pushing my children into traditional gender roles.  They are who they are, they like what they like, and I love them for being themselves.  I most especially love the fact that I am raising girls who see nothing wrong with digging in dirt with their brother, only to come inside to tend to their baby dolls or put on a plastic tiara.

Now that my children are attending school I've become even more aware of the fact that not all parents will feel the way that I do about certain things.  While I have no problem letting my male child play with "girl" toys, wearing nail polish in public is where I draw the line.  Or maybe just wearing nail polish in general. (it hasn't actually come up yet in my house.)  A boy in my son's class recently came to school with his fingernails painted.  It formulated a lot of questions from Joey, but did not prompt him to want his nails painted too.  Quite the opposite, actually.

Then while I was reading a celebrity gossip magazine at the (gasp!) gym, I saw this:

3-year old Zuma, son of Gavin Rossdale & Gwen Stefani, having a pedicure in his Captain America Superhearo costume.  I don't know why this annoyed me so much.  Normally I like seeing pictures of celebs & their kids.  You know, going to the grocery store, wiping boogers, pushing them on swings, all that regular old mom stuff.  It adds an element of normalcy to a world that is so not normal.  But this?  Not so much.  I mean seriously, did little Zuma (what is up with that name anyway?) wake up on the morning of his 3rd birthday and declare that he wanted to go get his toenails painted?  Maybe.  And if that were my kid I'd be like, "Uh... I don't think so.  Let's go get donuts instead!"  But I just seriously doubt that this kid wanting to go to the nail salon was his own idea.

I'm trying not to be hyper-critical here.  I understand that we all want our kids to feel free to be who they are.  But teaching your son that having his nails painted is socially acceptable is sending the wrong message in my opinion.  I get it that the kid might think it's all innocent fun.  It is innocent fun.  To them.  And probably to the parents too.  But not to the rest of the world.  We live in a cruel, cruel world.  Kids get bullied in grades as low as Kindergarten.  People (especially kids) will find anything to make fun of, and a little boy with his nails painted creates the perfect avenue for that kind of ridicule.  We as parents have a job to protect our children from harm.  That includes both physical and emotional harm.  And setting the stage for your kid to get made fun of is putting them at risk for emotional harm in my opinion.

As my kids get older I will not be able to control every little thing they do.  Eventually if Joey wants to wear nail polish to school there will be very little I can do about it.  And should my son grow up to be a boy that wants to wear nail polish I will love him just as much as if he doesn't.  Once he has the capacity to understand that not everyone will approve, and some will be quite vocal about their disapproval, I will allow him to make his own decision regarding his fingernails.  But while he's still young and impressionable, innocent, and completely unaware of how cruel this life can be... boys getting their nails painted... that's where I draw the line.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pampered Chef Product Winner Announcement

I'm sorry for the delay, but very excited to announce my winners for the Pampered Chef giveaways sponsored by Maryanne Taylor, Pampered Chef Consultant.  First off, I'd like to give a special thanks for the readers that made a purchase to benefit the families affected by Hurricane Irene.  I wish I had a prize to give all three of you!  That being said, I don't... so let's get right to the winners.

The winner of the Bamboo Block Knife Set is post #2, Kathryn.  Congratulations!  I've verified your purchase with Maryanne, and we'll get your prize out to you ASAP.  I hope you enjoy your prize!

The winner of the 1-2-3 Dip! Set is post # 45, Jean.  Congratulations!  Please check your email & get your shipping address to me soon so you can receive your prize!

I'd really like to thank Maryanne for being so generous to donate a portion of her proceeds, as well as sponsoring the giveaways for my readers!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Like To Eat Eat Eat... Apples & Bananas

Or Apples & Pears, according to this adorable girl's dress:

I made this cute peasant-style top several weeks ago.  It's a fabric I never would have selected on my own, but couldn't be more thrilled with the result.  My friend Christine brought it over one night several weeks ago for us to do some sewing, and voila!  And I must say that I was very pleased with myself for adding custom-made pockets to the front.  I'm getting to be quite brave, you know.  (Olivia has a matching one in-the-works, my sore back has prevented me from doing any sewing for quite some time... so her photo shoot will be a bit delayed)

This dress is so free and fun, it could be worn just about anywhere.  And it was seriously so easy, I think I'll make a whole bunch just like it!

Katelyn thinks it looks best with her boots...

Don't you agree?


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