Mome reads Mommy, My daughter's way to spell it when she was younger... It stuck. My son calls me Mome... just like it looks. I now sign all my notes to them "Love, Mome". It's our inside secret and makes them smile. I always want them to smile.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wish

I've been MIA.  Computer virus took me out of the game for awhile and then a real live virus attacked our house.  Fevers well into the 100's and nasty coughs have made for sleepless nights and lots of daytime cuddling to help with the aches and pains.  The kids are now on break so I can't promise it will get better soon but the New Year will definitely bring new things and more time,

My wish is for everyone to have a safe and Merry Christmas.  To make the most of every moment and to not sweat the small stuff.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Party at Joes?

This is the first year that I can remember actually being prepared for Christmas ahead of time.  I'm usually scrambling for last minute gifts or feel I need to get more for someone (Hubster, the kids, MIL).  I ordered the kids stuff online on Cyber Monday and then a few more things a couple days later.  Hubster bought his own presents (as did I) and I'm thinking Hubster can do the scrambling for his so-hard-to-buy-for parents.  I've bought a few things for each but will not stress doing more.  I sent my parents a beautiful gift basket (and that's all I'm saying in case they happen upon this post). 

That's it. 

Nothing is wrapped.  Nothing ever gets wrapped until Christmas Eve.  I still need to do some baking for our neighborhood treat swap, but I've been down with the flu (or some nasty virus that causes high fever and chest clenching coughs) for the past three days and figure the neighbors would prefer nothing over treats infested with this crap.  So technically I'm done. 

Oh Wait. 


I totally forgot the Teachers.  Puddin Pop's last day of school was yesterday and she was home sick.  Handsome's last day is tomorrow so, If I can muster up enough energy to drag myself out today, I could send something tomorrow.  Or...

I could use eGift Social and send gifts through Facebook and/or email.


What?  You didn't know?

I have a feeling this is going to get big.  With companies like Sears and Kmart already on board.  Virtual giving is headed to the next level.  Instead of giving the virtual treat of Ice Cream for a friend's Birthday, you can send an actual Cold Stone Treat.  No.  It doesn't get delivered to their door, but it is good for an actual ice cream treat on their next visit.  Or, you could send a Perfect Paton Margarita from Joe's Crab Shack to make some new best friends. 

I like that the gifts can be personalized.  Rather than just sending a $10 gift card, you can send a specific drink, appetizer, or even a Double Deluxe Cheeseburger from Culver's.  You can also send gift cards is specific dollar amounts, but I like the idea of sending drinks.  Haven't we all sent virtual drinks through several different FB apps?  Now we can send real ones.  I think we should have a party.  We could all show up at our local Joe's Crab Shack with our smart phones or laptops and send each other drinks.  Who's up for that?  Just leave a comment and we'll set something up. 

I'm off to pick out the perfect gift for the three Teachers in our lives.

Happy Holidays!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of First Data and received an eGift gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How to Choose Free Online Learning Games

(Guest Post)

There are many free online learning games available on the web if you are looking for an interactive way to further encourage your child’s educational development. In order to find these games, usually all it takes is a simple Internet search and you’ll be provided with a number of different options from which to choose.
Due to the fact that you will likely come across an extensive selection of free online learning games, you may be wondering which activities would be best suited to your child. There are different ways you can make this determination. The following are two important factors to consider:
  • Age – Look for games that are geared toward the age of your child. This will help weed out any games that are not suitable for their skill level. Keep in mind, even if your child is a preschooler, you will still be able to find many programs created with their learning needs in mind.
  • Subject matter – Games are generally specific to the development of a certain skill, such as reading, math, music, language, etc. Focus on the topic you want your child to learn.
By make these two determinations, when you search for free online learning games, you will have an easier time narrowing down your choices.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

She was Cute, and now she's gone

This post was supposed to go a little differently.  It was supposed to conclude that my suspicions were right.  It won't.  It will prove me all wrong.

Since we've moved into this house in 2003 we can count on two yearly pesty events.  We get ants in the early spring (everyone in the cul de sac does) and we get a mouse in the winter (there's my assumption, A mouse).   We've found that, if at the first sign of winter thaw, we spray the perimeter of the house, we can avoid the ants that take over.  If we miss that first ,or do it too early, it takes more than a week to get rid of them all.  The mouse comes when it's cold, is very comfortable visiting and often comes out from under the couch to visit me after everyone has gone to bed.  She looks at me, I look at her, and she travels across the room to hide under the entertainment center.  I'm okay with that.  Getting caught off guard sucks but, up until now, the alternatives, for me, have been worse.

Snap Traps won't work because if they catch the mouse anywhere other than on the head, which they always do, then I have to listen to the squeaking while they try to free themselves.

Glue traps have the same effect.  Mouse gets paw stuck in trap, tries to bite off paw, gets head stuck in glue and squeaks until it is removed.

D-con~ We have small kids and pets.  Enough said.

I'm not a feminist or a girly girl.  I believe women can do anything men can do.  I also believe they get to choose which of those tasks they want to take on.  Rodent removal is NOT a job I feel I have to tackle to prove myself.

I'm up before everyone else.  I'm home most of the day while everyone else is at work and school.  I'm up several hours after everyone else goes to bed.  Listening to a trapped, undead, squeaky mouse and waiting for someone else to take care of it is not my idea of enjoyable.  Other than let the little critter come out to visit me every once in a while, what is the solution? 

 Nooski Moouse Trap.

Product Description

The Nooski Mouse Trap works every time. It's the first truly new design for a mouse trap in over a century. Its patented system uses latex rubber rings that kill the mice every time, and it can be used over and over again. It really is the 'better mouse trap'.

With the Nooski Mouse Trap you need no more fiddly springs and snap traps that catch your fingers and maim mice. No more cruel glue traps. No more dangerous poisons that cause mice to die painful slow deaths. The Nooski Mouse Trap is safe, clean and easy.

How does the Nooski Mouse trap work?

* The trap is set by rolling on a latex rubber ring
* The mouse is attracted by the bait, we use a little peanut butter
* The mouse works its way into the trap
* The latex ring is triggered
* The mouse dies swiftly inside or next to the trap
* Set the trap again with another ring

The mouse cannot run off and die in its nest causing bad odors and it is impossible for them to steal the bait without being caught. Other traps often fail or maim. The Nooski Mouse Trap works swiftly and humanely and works every time, guaranteed.

Whereas snap traps are often thrown out with a dead and bloody mouse, the Nooski Mouse Trap can be used again and again. Ten latex rings are included to catch ten mice, and Nooski Refill Packs give you unlimited use.

Designed and made in New Zealand. The Nooski Mouse Trap pack includes one clear trap, black safety tunnel and ten latex rubber rings to catch ten mice.

Trigger Housing
Simply roll the ring into position, no separate loading cone required. Built from tough ABS plastic, the NOOSKI Mouse Trap is guaranteed to give 100% success, every time.

Safety Tunnel
Acting as the bait container as well as the safety tunnel. The safety tunnel allows you to set the trap inside without worry of pets or children setting it off.

Length: 150mm, Width: 56mm, Height: 33mm, Weight: 50 grams.

This is, quite simply put, the best mouse trap. EVER...even if it did prove me wrong.  It came in the mail yesterday and I immediately turned the package over to Hubster.  He set it, and placed it behind the couch, while the kids and I were at a birthday party.  When he came home last night (from a late night DJ gig), the trap had already caught my little friend.  She was peacefully dead beside the trap.  He removed her, reset the trap and put it back.  He told me all of this this morning when we got up.  I was sure there was nothing else to catch.  Deluded that there was only one friendly little critter.  He moved the couch.  There it was.  The second little critter.  No noise.  No blood.  I now will find out how seriously delusional I have been.  It's set for the third time.

Easy to use. Takes seconds to set.  We used peanut butter as bait and apparently they LOVE it.  It's quick and noiseless.  It's humane.  It's a solution to my winter-time dilemma.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Skillet Bacon Jam...No lie

While hoping around the Internet I came across a review for Skillet Bacon Jam. I immediately knew I had to get my hands on some of that stuff...and I did.  It was originally made for putting on a I did.  I didn't love it.  I didn't scrape it off or anything, but I didn't put it on the other half.  Yes.  I cut my burgers in half. Always.  So, thinking that this Skillet Jam may be a bust, I racked my brain to think of how else it could be used.  Since it's bacon mixed with spices and love (It's the balsamic that made it too twangy for a burger, for me) I thought of using it on this...

Now.  I heated the Bacon Jam and added a little EVOO and threw it on this salad (spinach, red onion, tomato and Feta).  That was amazing.  You can see the big chunks of bacon.  I loved the flavor it added to the salad and the fact that I didn't have to cook up the bacon.  I'm thinking it will also be good with my sauteed vegetables (zucchini, squash, red onion and yellow pepper) and will add some in the next time I make those.

If you are interested in getting some of your own, you can find some at  It's really fun to say "bacon jam" and you'll impress your friends when they see it in your fridge. It would also make a great gift for the bacon lover in your family.  Very unique.  Questions?  You can contact the creative makers of bacon jam at  Don't wait.  Go check them out now.  You may love it on your burger.

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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Wordless Wednesday~ Cookie Swap or How I gained 10 pounds on a Sunday Afternoon

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Christmas Proposal

TribalBlogs Carnival

A long, long time ago I was dating this guy.  We had been dating for just over two years and had never even so much as had a minor argument.  We broke up.  Feeling that the relationship needed a little spice (or space to see other people) it ended.  The break-up lasted for 5 months before the guy realized how awesome I was and came back....and I let him.

A couple months later we were spending Christmas at his parents house.  He kept hinting at this awesome gift he had gotten me.  It was just before my 29th birthday and, more than anything, I wanted the one sparkling thing that all girls in a serious relationship want.  Talks of rings had been made (by him to others) even before we broke up.  I'm guessing he just scared the shit out of himself.

We woke up, had breakfast with his parents and started in on the gift opening.  His parents go overboard, every year, so opening gifts takes hours.  When we appeared to be done I noticed that I hadn't received that got the attention on would think an "awesome" gift would receive.  I was asked to step outside so my final gift could be brought in.  What?  How hard could it be to hide a ring?  I obliged and went outside.  A few minutes later I was welcomed back in and in the middle of the living room I saw  this...

Yep.  He had bought me my very first, very own, computer. 

He then proceeded to stand up and give some speech about how much he loved me, wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and, if I wanted, would return the computer and buy the ring I REALLY wanted.  How does one respond to that?  In front of his parents?  AWKWARD.  I requested that we take a walk.  I explained that while I appreciated the fact that he would take the computer back and get me a ring, the fact that he had wanted to get me a computer told me that that is what I should accept.  He seemed a little upset that I didn't accept his "proposal".  Really?  I LOVED that computer.

For the record.  It only took another 2.5 years to get the actual ring.

This post is part of a Tribal Blogs Blog Carnival.  To read more either click the button at the top or you can read Dufus' post here

The Worst Christmas Present Ever by Nonamedufus

If you like what you're reading, I strongly suggest you join Tribal Blogs so you don't miss out on any of the forum fun.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Super Easy Cake Balls

My neighbor has an annual cookie swap.  This year I decided to take cake balls and made them in a variety of colors.  They are always a hit and great for kids because they are (mostly) bite size so the chocolate doesn't melt on their hands.

You will need:
Any boxed cake mix (and ingredients to make it, (eggs, oil)
1 container of frosting
Melted Chocolate (or your preferred chocolate for coating)

*Make cake as directed in a 9x13 pan (you can make them in round cake pans but your just going to dump them out)

*Let cake cool for 2-5 minutes and dump into large mixing bowl.  Add container of frosting and mix together to make (almost) a dough.

*Put in refrigerator to chill (I usually leave mine overnight)

*Once chilled, form into 1 inch balls
*Melt chocolate and roll cake balls to evenly coat.  put on was paper or foil to set.  Enjoy!

I used white chocolate (Food Lion brand CandiQuik) and dyed some green.  I used Wilton candy melts for the red ones and chocolate (CandiQuik).  You can also add solid shortening to thin the chocolate.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grilled Chicken Salad

There are many varieties and endless possibilities when it comes to salad.  This I whipped up with some leftover grilled chicken and other ingredients on hand.

Spinach, tomato, egg, red onion, grilled chicken and I sliced up a mozzarella cheese stick.  Sprinkled with pepper and drizzled on a Greek Vinaigrette.  Yum!

What's your favorite salad ingredient?  One that HAS to go in every salad you make?

Friends are for Sharing Secrets...and Showers

Good friends are those that share their best secrets with you.

I have a vision of one of my bestest friends, getting out of the shower.  I can't for the life of me figure out why I was in the bathroom while she was in the shower.  We never lived together.  It may have been that week we spent in Florida together but most of that is a blur as well.  It was more than 20 years ago.  She shared with me a moisturizing tip that I've never forgotten.  One I practice, especially in the winter months,  all year long.  What is it?

It's Johnson's Baby oil!  Right out of the shower, before drying off.  You cover your body in the baby oil and then pat dry with a towel.  I swear it works.  Locking in the moisture it leaves your skin feeling baby smooth and the scents are subtle and fresh.  Who doesn't love that new baby smell?  I've been using the Baby Oil Gel with Shea and Cocoa Butter. Not only is my skin baby smooth but while snuggling with my 4 year old the other night she asked "Mommy, why do you smell like a delicious candle?" I had to smile.

Johnson's has been making products for babies for over 100 years and are always trying to improve on their already great products as well as develop new ones for babies sensitive skin.

The secret is out.

It's not just for babies. 

Try it. 

I'm now going to call my friend and see if she remembers why I was in the bathroom with her while she was in the shower.  Even though it was more than 20 years, it was one of the best "secrets" ever shared.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Johnson’s and received the products necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I found a solution to my adult acne ~ Skin-Peel Review

I'm always complaining about acne.  It's even more bothersome since I didn't have to deal with it in my teens and yet, as an adult, feel like I'm a teenager looking for a solution. 

I recently had the opportunity to try a product from Skin-Peel.  They offer several solutions for problem skin and even have Representatives online available to answer questions and help you decide which product would be best for you.  I was sent the Salicylic Acid Peel (10%).

"Salicylic Acid’s capacity for deep pore penetration makes it an excellent choice for those prone to mild and moderate acne vulgaris. Dead skin and debris can plug the delicate pore resulting in blackhead, whiteheads and acne eruptions.

Salicylic Acid’s winning combination of anti-septic and exfoliating properties promotes a clear, healthy complexion! A Salicylic Acid Peel will begin to purge clogged pores even after the first peel. As a result, acne breakouts may temporarily heighten. Nevertheless, the pore purification process will ultimately improve acne conditions and provide a clear path to beautiful skin!"

The only concerns I have with this product are the limited instructions.  The first line of the instruction are in bold print and say:

"Chemical Peels have been used for hundreds of years and have a proven safety record (when applied by experienced users.)"

That's a little intimidating.  While it didn't stop me from jumping right in, those more cautious may be too frightened to try.

They suggest doing a patch test and then only leaving the product on for 30-60 seconds the first use.  There is some stinging, but it's minimal.

The directions never mention how often treatment should be done.  I used it three days in a row for 2 minutes each time and then found out (by sending them a question) that is should be used once a week at the most.  (Even though I was using it incorrectly, no adverse affects presented.)


I LOVED the way it made my skin feel.  I don't like my face to feel greasy and almost prefer it to feel slightly dry.  This Salicylic Acid Peel did just that.  It also left it grease free for several days.

The product is super simple to use and comes with everything needed in a zippered carrying case.  Basically you use the provided gauze to completely cover your face, leave on for desired amount of time (never longer than 7 minutes) and then spray with neutralizer and rinse with cold water.

I truly believe this product has worked for me.  It took some time to get the right "schedule of use",  but I think I have found the best way to use the product to keep my face free from blemishes.  I also suffer from cystic acne and have not had a single one since starting the use of this product.  If you've ever had cystic acne you know that they can be very uncomfortable (and downright painful depending on where they decide to grow).  That alone makes it worth every penny. 

I would not only recommend this, or other skin-peel products, but will definitely be purchasing some more when this supply runs out.  It's the best thing I have found.  No lie.  I've tried a LOT of different products and have not found anything that produces the results that this did.  I'm a happy, acne-free, camper!  Thanks Skin-Peel.

**Skin-Peel is offering a 20% discount on all orders placed until December 31st.  Use the code  SHEBLOGS .

I was given this product to try from Skin-Peel through She Blogs.  No money changed hands.  The opinions are authentic and 100% mine.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I am Thankful For...

Thanksgiving at home.  No need to dress up (or put on a bra).  No stress.  Dinner for 4.  Movies.  Snuggling.  Turkey.  Stuffing.  Mashed Potatoes.  Gravy.  Fried Okra.  Crescent rolls.  Pecan Pie.

I am also Thankful to have the ability to be able to provide all of this for my family.  To have a warm house to serve it in.

I am Thankful for Hickory Farms...who provided the appetizers.  Something to snack on when the smell of turkey has everyone's stomach rumbling.

I am Thankful to be able to help my favorite charities (and only wish I could help them all).

I am Thankful for companies that help others and choose to use their products over those that don't give back.

Hickory Farms will donate $5 from every Party Planner Gift box sold (up to $500,000) to Share our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign.  A national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America.

I'm sure you know someone who would love this for the Holidays...

Or maybe it would make your get-together a little more stress-free.

With 5 different cheeses and 3 types of Summer sausage, the assortment is sure to please all.


Maybe you like some hot and tangy mustard with you crackers and cheese? It's in there.  So is a wonderful cranberry mustard.  Yum

This is mine. 
Ritz cracker with hot mustard, beef summer sausage, sweet butter chip pickle and topped with smoked cheddar blend.

I'm Thankful for all these things and so much more.

From our family to yours...
Happy Thanksgiving!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Hickory Farms and received a signature gift box from Hickory Farms to thank me for taking the time to participate

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's Your Wicked Fresh Moment?

This post brought to you by Tom's of Maine. All opinions are 100% mine.

Back in sixth grade I had this boyfriend we'll call "G".  We had been "going together" for a couple weeks and were ready to take things to the next level.  We decided it was time to french kiss.  I remember discussing it with him and with other friends,  finding out who had done it, what it was like, best get the idea.  The date was set for our upcoming Safety Patrol Picnic.  We would sneak off from the crowd and find a secluded area to make our relationship more official.  Just typing this makes me laugh.

I don't remember what was served but I'm sure I stayed away from anything with onions.  I also know for a fact that I was packing gum.  Gum was the best defense against less-than-pleasant breath.  We're talking about putting tongues in someone else's mouth.  We definitely want to be wicked fresh.  The kiss lasted maybe a minute, in a wooded area.  The relationship ended soon after.

I still pack gum.  Not for kissing, but to prevent offending someone while talking to them after eating offensive foods like onions and garlic.  I'm a grown-up now and enjoy those foods regularly.  I don't refrain, regardless of the situation.

Tom's Of Maine has developed Wicked Fresh toothpaste to keep your breath fresh long after brushing.  They use powerful, natural flavor oils and a botanical extract that also helps fight cavities.  I could have used some of that back in the sixth grade.  They are also holding a contest.  You can find out what's up for grabs on their  That's Wicked Fresh contest page.  Top prize is a $500 Target gift card.  You just have to tweet your Wicked Fresh moment on Twitter and follow @TomsofMaine.  Make sure you also "like" Tom's of Maine on Facebook.  It'll get you an extra entry into the drawing.  It doesn't even have to be a kissing story.  Just something "Wicked Fresh".

So.  What's your story?

Visit Sponsor's Site

Best Stuffing Ever (Dad's Stuffing)

My dad makes the best stuffing EVER.  Not sure if he got this recipe from somewhere or made it up himself.  Anyone who has ever tried it always requests more and an invitation to dinner the next time it's made.  I've made a few modifications and variances over the years, minor adjustments, just to try them out.  You really can't go wrong.  It's a smorgasbord of GOOD.

What you'll need:
1 pkg stuffing mix (bag, box, any brand)
1 pound of spicy sausage
1 medium (yellow or white) onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple.  Peeled and diced
1 Tbsp butter (or margarine)
1 cup raisins (Dad swears you need 1/2 regular and 1/2 golden.  I say you can use whatever you have on hand. Sometimes I use Craisins)

Brown and drain sausage. Set aside.
Add butter into pan and saute onion for about 3 minutes, add apple and heat for another 3 minutes.  No need to brown them, just soften them up some. Add raisins and mix together with sausage.
Make stuffing as directed on package and then mix all the ingredients together. 

If you are going to bake your stuffing I would add extra water (or broth)  I like mine moist and don't bake it at all.  Stuffing is also better the next day so make it ahead of time, if you'd like.  It's one last thing you'll need to think about on Turkey Day.  As you can see, mine is done.  Trying HARD to stay out of it until tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Naked Grape Pinot's ~ Review

 I recently had the opportunity to try two Pinot's from The Naked Grape.  What a cool name, right?

The first was a crisp, lightly fruited Pinot Grigio.  With aromas and tastes of pear and honey this was fabulous with lemon/pepper crusted tilapia (see previous post).  It was mildly sweet and medium bodied.  Sure to please but not overwhelm any food pairing.  I would also serve this with pasta in a lightly garlic butter sauce...and top it with some shrimp.  This wine is also fun for drinking alone (without food) and would be a great refresher on a hot Summer day.

Winemakers Notes:

Varietal Content: Pinot Grigio,
Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Riesling
Titratability Acidity: .59
pH: 3.25
Alcohol Level: 12.9%
Residual Sugar: .64%

The second wine was the Naked Grape Pinot Noir.  I'm a Red Gal for the most part and have found Pinot Noirs to have great character and rich flavor.  This blend did not disappoint.  With blackberry and hints of mushroom, this medium bodied wine is nice to sip on alone or could be paired with and light seasoned meat dish.  I enjoyed mine with homemade meat-sauced spaghetti topped with fresh sauteed veggies (red onion, zucchini squash and yellow bell pepper).  The flavor of both were pleasantly enhanced by the pairing.

Winemaking Notes:

Varietal Content: Pinot Noir,
Tempranillo, Grenache, Alicante
Titratability Acidity: .55
pH: 3.65
Alcohol Level: 12.9%
                          Residual Sugar: .81%
I would personally purchase either of these.  Falling in the $10 range, they are subtle enough to be very versatile and would please a wide variety guests who may or may not have my love for wine.  Good Value.
**I was sent both these bottles from Hunter Public Relations for Naked Grape.  No money changed hands and the opinions are authentic and 100% mine.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mother of the Year? Not this Year!

I did poor Puddin' Pop such a disservice yesterday.  I haven't even come clean to her yet.  I'm coming clean here and will let her find out when she's old enough to read.

While getting the clothes ready for the kids to wear to school, I grabbed the pair of camouflage jeans that PP had stripped off after wearing for 2 minutes on Sunday and thrown on the floor.  I had picked them off her floor and folded them on Sunday and pulled them out for her to wear yesterday.  I should have shook them.

The kids got ready a little early so they could go and visit the neighbors brand new puppy, Sophie.  My two kids and the neighbor girl, B, plus her mom were all outside.  I heard laughing and then giggling and then a mortified scream.  I walked outside to see the bigger kids almost rolling on the ground laughing and poor PP running in the opposite direction, visibly upset.

No one saw where they came from, but I know, and I'm sure you can figure it out.  Sweet Sophie, all the sudden, was playing the neighbors yard... with these...

After speculating where they came from the kids determined that Sophie must have grabbed them while she was in our house.  Yeah.  Let's go with that.

Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko

I recently tried Progresso's Lemon Pepper Panko bread crumbs.  Regular bread crumbs will never do again. I was in the mood for some Tilapia.  Usually this is a meal I would make for myself when Hubster and the kids are at church.  They're not big fans of fish...yet.  I didn't want to wait for a night alone, though, so I made this special treat for myself while making fried popcorn shrimp for the kids.

I prepared my tilapia by by lightly rubbing it with EVOO and then coating it with the crispy panko bread crumbs.  I then cooked them in a pan with a little EVOO and they came out crispy and delicious.  I added some Spanish rice (topped with cheese) and a spinach salad and the end result was this...

Whether baking, frying or broiling, panko bread crumbs provide a flavorful crunch you just don't get from regular bread crumbs.

Right now, Progresso is hosting a contest to an amazing Wine and Dine Event with Michael Chiarello, in Napa Valley.  Complete with a weekend of food and wine, air fair and lodging.  This is a trip for two.  You must enter by December 31st, and must be at least 21 years of age and a legal US resident.  I really would LOVE to win this trip!  You can also find great recipes and cooking tips for using panko on Progresso's site, as well as a coupon for $1 off any flavor of panko bread crumbs.  The lemon pepper was awesome.

The information, Progresso Panko bread crumbs, and a Michael Chiarello's cookbook were sent to me by General Mills through MyBlogSparkThe opinions are authentic and 100% mine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Decorating at Pier 1

This post brought to you by Pier 1 Imports. All opinions are 100% mine.

Pier 1 Rocks.  Just saying.  I usually get a gift card each Christmas and love being able to shop... for me.  It's actually for the house, but that pretty much is "my" stuff.  No one else buys cool stuff to pretty up the house, so it's nice to be able to spend money on stuff I enjoy.  I also enjoy that it's stuff for me that doesn't require trying anything on.  Yep.  Not a huge fan of clothes shopping, not at least for clothes for me.

We're doing Thanksgiving at home this year.  My brother will be coming and I want to make it festive.  These Ice cream candles are on clearance.  Most of the Halloween stuff is.  Halloween stuff (that doesn't involve witches and bats and spiders) work really well for decorating a Thanksgiving table.  At discounted prices I can get a lot more for my money.


I love candles.  I'd also love to create an awesome centerpiece.  Something unique.  Something maybe the kids can help put together.  They love that stuff.   It will also be nice to do some holiday entertaining.  We usually go to my In-laws but this year I wanted to start our own traditions, let the kids help prepare the food, and be able to relax after we eat.  I've got all the food.  I need to start with the decorating.

Pier 1 is also accepting donations for Toys for Tots during November and December.  You can bring an unwrapped toy and/or make a cash donation.  Want an easier way to support Toys for Tots?  Just "like" Pier 1 on Facebook and they'll donate $1.  You have to like them in November, so do it now while you're thinking about it.

Are you a fan of fancy (and colorful) glassware?  Take a look at these...

 Flights of Fantasy

I'm adding these to my Christmas list.  You can never have enough festive stem ware.  I can't decide between the multi-colored and the purple spotted ones.  Which do you prefer? Please help me decide.

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Lazy or Creative?

Yesterday was Hubster's Birthday.  He got a new puppy and a fleece jacket.  I'd say he made out pretty well since he's only had to take the puppy out once and cleaned one mess.  We got her on Sunday.

When I entertained the idea of making the coveted birthday cake I found I just wasn't in the mood.  I know, it's not about me, but there are only four of us and 2 of us (PP and I) are not huge fans of cake.  I enjoy making cakes but don't enjoy tossing 2/3 out a week later.  I've tried the whole slicing and freezing individual pieces for a treat later on.  That just delays the tossing out by about 6 months.

Last week I purchased a tub of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie dough.  It says "New Batch" on the tub and, Oh My, they are so delicious.  Better than any CC cookies I've ever made from scratch.  I thought it would be nice to surprise Handsome with fresh, warm cookies when he came home from school.  I also liked that I could make a dozen and they would all be gone before I sat down to watch TV after everyone else went to bed.  Cookies are my weakness, especially chocolate chip ones.  I don't need those around to munch on late at night.

Anyhow.  I had this great idea of making Hubster a special birthday treat.  I also made one (though smaller) for each of the rest of us.  Two with cookie dough ice cream and two with chocolate (for PP and I).  They were absolutely delicious.

So.  Was this a lazy mom move or a creative one?  I'd like to think the latter...and there are no leftovers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What gets you in the Holiday Spirit?

Today is going to be a busy day.  Shopping with a friend, trip to the post office, bank, and grocery store.  30 minutes (or more) with my EA Active trainer kicking my butt and Girls Night In.  I can't think of a better way to start the day than with some Vanilla Nut Coffee.

Some people get excited about the holidays with the first sales at the stores, Some by the never-ending playing of holiday music on their favorite radio station.  I get excited about all the holiday blends of coffee that become available...for a limited time only.  Nothing is better than waking up to the aroma of Pumpkin Spice or Mocha Mint.

Cold weather is also a time for warm evening beverages.  While wine is normally my drink of choice to relax at the end of a long day.  During super cold nights and the occasional snow we sometimes get, I prefer to snuggle up with an "adult" coffee.  Here are my suggestions of pairings with the different Holiday blends...

Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Spice + Grand Marnier (or a less expensive orange liquer)

Dunkin' Donuts Vanilla Nut + Frangelico (or any hazelnut liquer)

 Dunkin' Donuts Mocha Mint + Bailey's(Or any Irish cream)

These evening delights are sure to warm you up and make Present wrapping even more enjoyable.

Make sure to get your Holiday blends now...and stock up.  Like all things Holiday, they'll be gone (and over) way too soon.

I was sent the 3 Holiday Flavors from Dunkin' Donuts and Mom Central, I will also receive a gift card to facilitate my review.  The opinions are authentic and 100% mine.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wines Of Chile ~ A Celebration of Red

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Wines of Chile ~Red Blends Blogger Wine Tasting.  By recently I mean about a month ago.  The information and the wines were so incredible that I've been at a loss at how to do it justice in a post.  We sampled 8 different wines with the help of Fred Dexheimer (Master Sommelier) and 8 Chilean Wine Makers.  We had awesome food and got the opportunity to ask questions and have a little fun flirting with some of the winemakers.  Fred was an exceptional host and a refreshing personality.  This was a great group of bloggers, wine makers and media who weren't afraid to have a little fun.  Along with the wine I was sent some amazing 1492 EVOO and Merquen Smoked Chiles to prepare suggested recipes with.  The night was amazing as was the wine.  It also happened to fall on the evening the remaining Chilean Miners were being rescued.  One extra reason for all of us to toast together.

Wine #1
Eclat 2005, Maule Valley
56% Carignan, 24% mourvedre, 20% Syrah
Retails for $27

This wine is ruby red and presents a spicy red fruit and wild violet to the nose.  The palate is raspberry and other red berries, full bodied with a syrah finish.

Wine #2
De Martino
Single Vineyard Old Bush Vines "Las Cruces" 2006, Cachapoal Valley
66% Malbec, 34% Carmenere
Retails for $45

This wine is a deep violet-red and presents floral, sweet spices and ripe red fruits to the nose.  The palate is complex with hints of fig and an exceptional long finish.

Wine #3
Gold Assemblage Carmenere 2008, Colchagua Valley
57% Carmenere, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot
Retails for $22

Intense color of violet and ruby red.  Aroma is smokey with hints of tobacco and herbs with a variety of red fruit.  The palate is red berries, bell pepper and spice.  This wine has great balance and finish.

Wine #4
Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2008, Colchagua Valley
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carmenere
Retails for $15

Red Ruby Color.  Aromas of chocolate, coffee and vanilla and palate of Chocolate, red berries and sweet smoke.  Full bodied with a long finish.
(This was my favorite out of the 8 we tasted)

Wine #5
Lien 2006, Colchagua Valley
42% Syrah, 30% Carmenere, 12% Cabernet Fr.anc, 9% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec
Retails for $19

Deep red-violet coloring.  Aroma is Spicy black fruits, olive and dark chocolate.  The palate is dark fruits, tobacco and hits of dark chocolate, silky tannins made this wine a crowd favorite.

Wine #6
Vina Hacienda Araucano
Clos de Lolol 2008, Colchagua Valley
31% Syrah, 29% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Carmrenere
Retails for 23

This wine is deep red to purple in color.  Presents blackberry, tobacco and clove to the nose.  The palate is a mix of raspberry, blueberry and cloves.

Wine #7
Coyam 2007, Colchagua Valley
38% Syrah, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Carmenere, 17% Merlot 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Mouvedre
Retails for $29

Intense Violet-red coloring.  On the nose is dark berries, oak and minerals.  The palate is dark fruit, toffee and chocolate with well-rounded tannins and a long finish.

Wine #8
Casas Del Bosque
Gran Estate Selection Family Reserve 2007, Casablanca Valley
61% Syrah, 26% Merlot, 13% Pinot Noir
Retails for $50

Intense Violet coloring.  A nose of Dark berries, anise and lavender.  The palate is black cherry, leather and truffle with a hint of bitter chocolate.

All of these wines are excellent and Highly Recommended.

I was sent the samples to participate in the tasting.  I was not compensated in any other way.  The opinions are authentic and 100% mine.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tomato and Jalapeno Quesadilla

I was in the mood for a little spicy snack.  This also works well as a grilled cheese but I was in the mood for a quesadilla.

I always make mine open-faced and then fold.  Some like to top with another tortilla but I prefer the fold.  Layer with mixed shredded cheese, tomatoes and jalapenos.  You can use oil or butter or a non-stick pan with neither (pictured here).

When the cheese is fully melted, fold and flip to get desired "crunch".  I like mine crispy.  Others could remove sooner for a softer quesadilla.

Cut into wedges and serve with your dip of choice, salsa, sour cream, guacamole or Ranch.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Fun

Wow.  This is the first year I can remember it being cold here in Virginia on Halloween.  Okay.  Not really cold, 55-60ish, but usually its more like 90.  The kids actually had to put clothes on under their costumes and this never happens.  I would love to say that I'm the crafty mom who can sew and make costumes for the kids but...I'm not.  I find it way more fun and way less frustrating to let them browse the Internet and catalogs and pick out whichever costume strikes their fancy.  This year Handsome kept changing his mind and the costumes ended up arriving the Wednesday before Halloween.  Usually they are here at least a month ahead.

We Trick or Treat with our neighbors and this year the wagon was loaded with snacks.  Mummy Pups (pigs in a blanket) and pumpkin and ghost shaped ham and cheese sandwiches kept the kids warm and out of the candy until we got home.  Thanks Kathy! 

This was also the first year we stayed out the entire duration of T&T time.  Usually we are home and have 30 minutes to give out candy, but the kids are older and wanted to stay out.  This is NOT a good idea.  The last houses we arrived at were giving out full size candy bars and due to the time, were trying to get rid of it ALL.  The kids doubled their load in the last 10 minutes and between the two of them collected 8 pounds of candy.  Yes.  Hubster weighed it.

We will have candy through the new year but the memory is priceless and the kids were so flippin' adorable.
How did your family make out?

Our School Needs Contest~VOTE VOTE VOTE

Bing is giving away $250,000 to schools in need.

As part of a contest, Schools across America submitted videos or essays on why they needed support from Bing. From new technology to new roofs, the submitted entries were reduced to 15 Schools in Need and now they need our votes. The school with the most votes will receive $100,000 and the top vote getter in each category (elementary, middle, and high school) will receive $50,000. The videos are very creative and worth watching. One school wants Interactive White Boards and the computers to use them. I posted last year about these SmartBoards and was so excited this Fall when I realized my son's Fundamental school had installed them in each classroom. The technology is amazing and it keeps the kids interested in topics through visual aids and interactivity. Every school should have access to these.

You can cast 5 votes each day (must be 5 different schools) and by adding Bing as your homepage you will receive a donation code from  Bing will also offer a $3 donation code to the first 30,000 voters each day.  Giving away a total of (up to) $900,000.  Public school teachers can post classroom projects that need funding and you can use your codes to help the project of your choice.  Is there an easier way to get involved? 

Looking through the videos I am feeling so fortunate for my children and the current schools they are in.  I can't imagine how the parents of the students in these videos must feel each morning sending their kids off to school, especially the families of Greefield Hebrew Academy, their roof leaks and the kids get wet every time it rains.  How do you focus on school work with water dripping on your head?  Why should these kids have to endure that?

Let's all do our part by spending just a few minutes each day and voting for the schools we want to be rewarded with these generous donations from Bing.  It's a few minutes to make a Lifetime of difference for these children and their education.  Step Up and VOTE!

Voting ends November 7th and the winners will be announced November 9th.  Go Vote Now!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Bing and received a gift card and giving code to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Date Night with Macaroni Grill's Creamy Basil Parmesan and Chicken Pasta


allysmama  1 week ago

"My favorite date has to be the candlelight dinner my hubby made for me & our daughter for our last wedding anniversary. He always says he married both of us, and our celebration reinforces that! "
Congrats!  Your kits will be mailed from MyBlogSpark

Things are what they are.  When I was recently sent some meals to try and it was suggested that I create a "Date Night" with them, I thought it would be impossible to make it happen.  With Macaroni Grill's new boxed Basil Parmesan Chicken Pasta staring at me each day from my cupboard, I was getting impatient with Hubster's new schedule that brings him home late and at unpredictable times.  The pasta looked so good and I finally caved and made it on a night he said he was going to be home at a decent time.  He wasn't.  Puddin Pop was at Grandma's house and Hubster was bringing her home with him.  That left this wonderfully smelling meal, Handsome and myself. 

My darling 7 year old took advantage of the fact we were home alone and asked if we could have a "date".  How perfect is that.  It may not be the "date night" that was intended but it was a "Date night" nonetheless.  He even set the table (with his sister's favorite blanket as the table cloth).

                                      My Date                                           

His Food
          He makes Mommy so proud and is the only other salad eater in the house:)
My food.  Salad is a little fancier.

See the fancy table cloth?  All his idea.  This meal was restaurant quality and easy to prepare.  Just add your own chicken.  We used chicken breasts, sliced and cooked them.  You could use the prepackaged chicken if in a big hurry.  This meal took about 20 minutes to prepare.  I thought the basil and sun dried tomatoes were wonderful but worried that Handsome would shy away from these new flavors.  He didn't. 

We sat. side by side on the couch, and ate and chatted.  Just like a real date.  He is growing up so fast and being able to spend this quality alone time with him was a real treat.  He's even cleared the table when we finished.  He must be being raised well.  Such a little gentleman.  My first Date with his Father was at an Italian Restaurant, so this meal was reminiscent of that.  Glad I had someone to enjoy it with.

I can definitely promote this meal.  Whether a special treat for a Date Night or a quick hearty meal after a busy day of school and work, this pasta is sure to please.  Easy and delicious.

You Could Win It
Leave a comment about one of your favorite dates and you'll be entered for a chance to win your own "Date Night" prize pack including this great meal from Macaroni Grill and a box of Wanchai Ferry's Orange Chicken (both meals require adding your own chicken).

Contest ends November 15th and a Winner will be announced on November 16th.


You can download a coupon HERE for $1.50 off two packages of Macaroni Grill and/or Wanchai Ferry Dinner Kits.

The Dinner kits and Prize Pack are courtesy of Macaroni Grill and Wanchai Ferry through MyBlogSpark.  I also received a gift card to facilitate this review.  The opinions are authentic and 100% mine.