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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Scholastic Prize Pack giveaway

Scholastic has a wonderful Christmas gift for one special person. The prize pack includes the most popular children’s books in the marketplace to offer one lucky reader! Titles include CAPTAIN SKY BLUE, IT’S CHRISTMAS DAVID, OOK and GLUK as well as TONY BALONEY, ODIOUS OGRE and I SPY CHRISTMAS A CHRISTMAS TREE! This special prize pack is valued at $89.75, and filled with 6 new books! To get your chance to win this great prize pack you must enter the giveaway hosted by the blog My Four Monkeys. Enter before November 29 if you want your entries to count

Friday, November 19, 2010

Basket of Goodies to Make Sweets giveaway

i love to make sweets, love to eat sweets and love to share the recipes with my kids. If i was the lucky winner of the giveaway hosted by thte blog An Island Life and Nicoles and Nickles you can just imagine I would do just that. Now if you want a chance to win you will have to head over there before November 29th to win this Kraft CoolWhip gift basket.

Five Question Friday


1. What Christmas song do you loathe?


I really don't have any that I loathe, but then there is the one version of jingle bells where batman laid an egg that one I could do with out

2. Do you and your significant other cuddle at night or sleep on opposite sides of the bed?

well we did once now nearly 25 years later we sleep at different times

3. Have you ever had surgery?

yes when I had my babies
4. When do you typically have your holiday shopping done?

christmas eve

5. If money were not an issue (and you HAD to pick something), what would your ultimate luxury item be?

A wonderful trip to the mountians that me and my hubby love so very much
 
you can play along @ My Little Life

Aloha Friday: What Is your Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish

Aloha Friday is hosted by the blog An Island Life and  is a day that is as those in Hawaii do a day for taking it easy. So for this meme bloggers all ask an easy question that requires an easy answer As many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving this approaching Thursday I am a bit stuck on what to make. I have figured out the main entree is turkey and have the breads and desserts decided but I am studk on what I will be making for sides. So my question today is:

What do you serve on Thanksgiving as a side dish?

Kix PrizePack giveaway

Do you remember how great it was as a kid to enjoy a great bowl of cereal? The Kix cereal was always great to eat dry or to eat with milk.

The blog Our Raettig Blessings is hosting a giveaway where the winner will receive a great prize pack of 24-piece counting-themed floor puzzle, fun learn-to-count flashcards, a sippy cup, a portable snack container and a box each of Original Kix and Honey Kix cereals. The giveaway ends November 28, 2010

Win a Fun Art Print

Do you like whimsical fun art? I love to decorate with fun art in just the right places. Now thanks to Art By Celia Currin and the blog Our Raettig Blessings you have the chance to win some. The giveaway consist of 5 winners winning their choice of 4x6 Art by Celia Currin. There are many great prints at this fun little shop you should take time and take a look. The giveaway ends November 22, 2010

The Last Ornament authored by Judith Vicary Swisher

Each year I look for a great book to read to the little members of our family. This year I had the grand opportunity to review the book The Last Ornament by Judith Vicary Swisher. Ms. Swisher also authored the best selling book Celebrate Advent -  25 Legends. I enjoyed reading through the wondrous pages as I read the Last Christmas Ornaments. The pictures in the book are ones that you can sit and day dream just a bit as you drawn into the story. Thy scenario of the story takes place as a family decorated their Christmas tree with trimmings. The stars of the story are the ornaments their selves. As the family looks at their cherished ornaments and takes them from the box the family recounts why the ornament is so special. It is when the ornament is placed on the tree that the ornaments come to life after being packed away for a year they have a lot to share. Children of all ages will be delighted as the story continues with each ornament is described and the ornaments share their own special talents. The height of excitement is found after the holidays are over and all the tree ornaments are placed back in the box, well all but one ornament. The ornaments all become aware of the situation of one missing and band together to figure out what to do. To find out what happened you will have to read the book The Last ornament for yourself.

About the Author:
Judith Vicary Swisher is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and The Pennsylvania State University. She is a Professor Emerita of Bio behavioral Health and the author of numerous professional articles. More recently she has written several holiday books for children and families. The first, "The Last Ornament", was published in 2006 [and reprinted in 2010], followed by "Celebrate Advent- 25 Legends", in 2008.

Our take
we loved it I loved the fact that it is hard back because it seems to make it more special. The pictures in the book were great and captured and keep the eye. My son and I both read the book his comments were "Mom, this is a great book, a keeper for sure." I believe the book the Last Ornament will be a hit at our family get together.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Make Your Home Smell Great for The Holidays

One common thing that I think of when I think of the holidays is the smells that are associated with the holiday. Here are some easy ways to make your house smell great and with a whiff make you instantly think of the wonderful holidays of the past.




1. Cinnamon Apple Sauce Cookie Ornaments will help to freshen the house up and provide the house with that lovely scent of cinnamon. TO make these cookies:



Mix equal parts cinnamon and applesauce together and refrigerate overnight (This gives the best results). Next day take a small amount out of the fridge and roll it out just as you were making cookies. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place a small hole in the top for future hanging. Repeat this process until you have used all of the dough. You can place the shaped ornaments on a piece of cardboard or any other flat surface other than a metal pan. Allow to slowly air dry turning after the top side is stiff and dry. These will definitely smell up your house with the smell of Christmas and after you have dried them, you can hang them on your tree and use them for many years to come



2. Candles work well because they come in a great variety of scents. The only problem here is that you often need several to get the house smelling like the certain scent you want to achieve.



3. Potpourri is something that my sister in law uses a lot of. She sits a little in baskets through out the house. Like the candles they provide a stronger scent with the more that is used. This is safer than candles though in that they do not need a flame to make the fragrance. eaves and stuff it smells like Christmas. <3 You can buy potpourri at the store or here is a recipe that you can make at home

4 Oranges

4 Lemons

1/2 cup Whole cloves

1/2 cup Whole allspice

10 Cinnamon Sticks, broken

10 Bay leaves, crumbled

8 ounces Decorated jelly jars with bands & lids

Using a vegetable peeler, peel fruit carefully, removing only the peel, not any of the white pith. Cut or tear into one inch pieces. Spread peel on paper towel lined pan. Place in preheated oven to 175, or set oven to WARM. Dry in oven for 1 1/2 hours, tossing occasionally. Peels should be leathery and/or slightly crunchy. Spread peels on dry paper towels and let air dry for 24 hours. Combine with the cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Fill jars with mixture. Place lids on and screw bands on tightly. To use: Remove lid and leave band on for decoration to fragrance a room; OR put one Tblsp into a jar and fill jar with boiling water to release fragrance.

4. You can take oranges and stick small whole cloves in them. This will create a fragrance that will smell good for a while and brings that Christmas scent . This is also very fun you can create designs with the cloves and each of the oranges can look a bit different.



5. Fragrant oils are also widely available. The can be used in oil burners and bring as scent to the area that can be strong and last quite a while. This depends on the type and brand used.



6. Purchase a live tree if you can. It may be a bit harder to take care of but it brings the scent inside to you. In addition to the tree perhaps some evergreen wreaths around the house will help bring the Christmas smell of your choice. Scented pine cones are also available in some areas. I have been known to take a red or green plastic or glass bowl and fill it with pine cones, pine needles and the such makes a great holiday décor and also helps to make a wonderful scent.

7. Simply peel some fruit and put the peelings into a pan of simmering water the scent will remind you of Christmas and the fruit that was normally found around this time. I can remember always getting an orange for Christmas sometimes more than one.

8. Fill a spray bottle ¼ cup of baking soda and the rest water. Mix in some extract to give it a scent. You can use peppermint, lemon, orange, vanilla or a number of other scents. The baking soda will absorb any odor that may be present previously and the extract will leave a scent of the holidays behind.

9. A couple of quick ways to make a kitchen smell good are (1) leave fresh coffee grounds on the counter top for just a short period of time (2) grind a lemon or an orange peel in the garbage disposal (3) simmer water and cinnamon or cloves on the stove top

10. use scented dryer sheets in the air ducts to help place a fragrance into the air.



11. Place a few drops of scented oils on the light bulbs of lights in the rooms. The heat will heat the oil releasing a fragrance that floats through the house.



12. Do some holiday baking pies, brownies or breads will quickly add a great scent to the house



13. Use products that you can find at your local grocery store, target or Wal-Mart like air freshener, carpet deodorizers many products you can find at the store are perfect for holiday scents



14. Place bowls with sponges that have been drenched with vanilla, peppermint or other scent throughout the rooms in places that they can’t be seen

There are several ways to make you house smell like the holidays. Just like different people have their favorite scent of the holiday so is there a different manner in which to place this scent into you house. This post has been created in part for Snuggle Fabric Softner which is a name brand in our house. You can try the Ultimate in Snuggly Softness and get a $1.00 Snuggle® coupon and enjoy the scent of Blue Sparkle® Ultra that lasts for 14 days of freshness!

To find out more about Snuggle you can visit the Snuggle  website

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Snuggle blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here
 

Sara Lee Deli Meat giveaway

 
The holidays are approaching soon and if your house is anything like mine then you will unexpected guest, hungry kids and teens and busy ongoings to boot. So what you may want to check out are the delicious deli meats by Sara Lee. In fact you may want to enter the giveaway located on Its An Island Life where a lucky individual will win 4 coupons for Sara Lee Deli meats. This giveaway is open to US residents only.

The Vintage pearl giveaway

I can remember as a little girl looking in my mothers jewelry box and wanting so much to wear every piece of it. Now as an adult I still have the same fascination with jewelry. The beauty of jewelry and the fact that there are so many different pieces of it available keep me on the lookout for more. I was recently introduced to a new source known as The Vintage Pearl. The blog Mama to 4 Blessings is hosting a giveaway where the winner will receive $50 gc to the Vintage Pearl. This giveaway ends November 10, 2010 

Ozone Socks Review and Giveaway

Most of us have all ready started covering up our toes in prep for the cool winter months. What we choose to cover our socks with often shows our personality as well. If you are looking to show your personality on your feet then you should check out the Ozone sock company.

History of Ozone Company:
Laurie Mallet the founder of Ozone grew up in Paris surrounded by fashion and style. Laurie's mother predicted fashion trends and fashion colors for large corporations and her step-father was a well known artist together the couple used their knowledge to design underwear and stockings for ready to wear industries. Laurie moved to New York following graduation in 1976 with five thousand dollars and turned it into a forty million dollar fashion empire. In 1980 Laura and her partner Willi Smith developed an incredibly successful brand and fashion line which combined her love of fashion and art. In 1997 this brand was sold to TJ Maxx that would lead to Laurie buying a sock company and introducing a new line of socks. In 2000 the Ozone design was born and continues to be a thriving company.

Just take at some of the great looks that are available at the Ozone website:
china over the knee


reindeer pattern

men's boot knife sock


side button legging

Buy: you can purchase any of these great looks as well as many more from the Ozone website located at http://www.ozonesocks.com/
Socks make the perfect Christmas present for anyone on your list and with Ozone you can choose the perfect pair to match their personality

Win: The Ozone Company has so graciously offered to sponsor a giveaway where 2 winners will win their choice of 2 pairs of socks each.

To enter giveaway visit the Ozone website and let me know what your choice of socks would be.

Extra entries:
  • follow my blog
  • place my text link on your blog (5 entries)
  • follow ozone on facebook
  • follow ozone on twitter
  • follow my blog on twitter
  • tweet this giveaway
  • share this giveaway on your blog, facebook, another giveaway site or social network of your choice let me know what you did (5 entries each)
  • comment on any non giveaway post (2 entries each)
  • enter the kidorable giveaway (3 entries)
Giveaway starts now and will end December 8, 2010. Good Luck. Email must be in comment or on blog profile or entries will not count.

we received sample socks for use in creating this review. The opinions are those of mine alone.

Aden + Anais giveaway

Our new grandbaby will be born in what can be a very cool month in Illinois. March can see either spring like winter or some of the roughest winters we have had. We will be sure to keep our little one warm and secure to ensure that he is comfortable. Aden + Anais create products that can get the job done in their australian muslin baby wraps. I entered to win on on the blog Mama to 4 Blessings. Giveaway ends November26, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DonorChoose.org

DonorsChoose.org works by helping public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on DonorsChoose.org. The requests range from small to big and are come from every subject of school. At DonorgChoose.org you can browse project requests that range in various amounts of money. You can find the project that inspires you and donate a little in several or in just one. Once the project reaches its funding goal, the material is delivered to the school.In return you will receive photos of your project taking place, a thank you letter from the teacher, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. If you donate over $100 you will also receive hand - written thank you letters from the students. DonorChoose.org practices what is called philanthropy where the gift of $1 receives the same level of choice, transparency, and feedback that larger donations receive.

So for the person on your list who you are not sure what to give for a gift perhaps you would want to make a donation in their name. Perfect for teachers, Sunday school teachers, etc...

Sugar and Spiced Roast Turkey

1 (12-pound) whole turkey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher or coarse-grain sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 large onion, quartered
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth
Additional chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Garnishes: fresh rosemary sprigs, apple slices, nuts

Remove giblets and neck; rinse turkey with cold water. Pat dry. Tie legs together with string; tuck wingtips under. Combine brown sugar and next 6 ingredients. Rub over turkey. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 8 hours.
Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Arrange onion quarters around turkey. Pour 2 cans broth in bottom of pan. Bake, loosely covered with foil, at 325° for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and bake 1 1/2 more hours or until meat thermometer registers 180°. (Cover with foil to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.) Remove onion; discard, reserving pan drippings. Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.
Combine pan drippings and enough chicken broth to equal 2 cups in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Serve with turkey. Garnish, if desired.


Recipe Source: Southern Living, NOVEMBER 2002

Pink Is pregnant



My daughter has company in her pregnancy. She is not the only person that I admire that is pregnant. For a long time I have been a fan of Pinks and I am so delighted that Pink is pregnant. Congratulations to her as well

Apple peel Jelly

Isn't this jelly just super pretty? It is apple peel jelly You can find the recipe on the feelin' feminine blog.

Blunders

Blunders is a game from Blundermania Blunders seems like an awfully funny name for a game that helps teach manners. But if you think about it a blunder is something that you want to avoid and if you can help your children avoid these blunders then I think it is a great game. You can win a copy of this game on the blog Jolly Mom. Giveaway ends november 18, 2010.   

Win Gift Cards

While I love to shop for those that I love I love to shop for myself as well. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have wonderful products that attract my attention easily. Now normally while I am a dress down sort of person I love to dress up. The lucky thing is that either of these great stores can help me with either frame of fashion mind. Rajee is hosting giveaway on her blog Moms Focus on Cyber World where one lucky winner will win 2 $25 gift cards. You can use both on self, use both on gifts or better yet keep one for self and give the other away as a gift. Any way you choose to use the gift cards if you win will be up to you. The giveaway ends November 17, today so you need to hurry.

Win the book If i Could keep you Little

I watched my own children grow and the time from when they were babies to the time that they were grown seemed to go so very fast. Now I watch as my grand baby grows and changes and does more every day than she did the day before. With my daughter expecting again and due in March I would love to share the book If I Could Keep You Little. The great thing is that I entered a giveaway on the blog An Island Life. The giveaway ends November 30, 2010

She's so pretty

This is my niece ready to go to her School Homecoming. I am so glad that she went and boy she does look pretty. She suffers from anxiety and depression and has often does many things that lead to getting into trouble so that she fits in. I am happy to report that she is now living with her aunt and uncle and is doing well in school and life.

 5 minute for special needs

Head Chefs

Do your children like to help you in the kitchen? Mine have always like to be involved in the cooking experience. Now there are new tools for the kitchen geared towards making children have fun in the kitchen. The new tools go by the name headchefs. There are 17 tools in all pictured above are 4 of the 17. Want to win some of the cool head chefs? head over to the blog Marias Space for your chance to win a head chef spatula. The giveaway ends November 30, 2010

Home Made Holiday Play Dough

One thing that I used to do with my kids every holiday was to prepare Home-Made play dough that was colored or scented for the special season: If you want to try it here are a few recipes for playdough that you may like as well.

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough

5-1/2 cups flour

2 cups salt
8 teaspoons of cream of tartar
1 spice container of pumpkin pie spice (about 1-1/2 oz if buying in bulk)
3/4 cup oil
orange food coloring (if you don't have orange, use 2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
4 cups water

In a large saucepan combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring until all lumps are blended. Allow to cool then knead pumpking pie playdough on a lightly floured counter or table until it is smooth and of playdough consistency. Add small amounts of water or flour if needed. Store in airtight container or tightly sealed ziploc bag.
Mix all ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth. Store in a plastic bag.

source: http://www.momsbudget.com/playtime/pumpkinpieplaydough.html

Chocolate Play Dough
1 and ¼ cups of flour

½ of a cup of cocoa powder
½ of a cup of salt
½ of a tablespoon of cream of tartar
1 and ½ tablespoons of cooking oil
1 cup of boiling water

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large, heavy bowl. Add the oil and boiling water to the mixture. Stir very quickly, mixing thoroughly. Once the mixture has cooled, mix it together using your hands. The dough can now be played with. When done playing with the dough, store it in an air tight container.



Gingerbread Play-Dough

1 Cup flour
1/2 Cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Spices--Cinnamon, Allspice, Ginger, Nutmeg
*Green and Red food coloring to make Brown (optional--the spices usually
give the dough a good Brown color.)

Mix the dry ingredients. Experiment with the spices until you get a scent and color that you like. Mix water and oil together first and then add them to the dry ingredients and stir. In a pot, cook the mixture for three to five minutes on low/medium, stirring constantly. The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pot and stick together in a large ball. I take it out of the pan when I see a VERY faint brown skin on the dough one each side when I flip it.  Take the dough out of the pan and knead the dough until it becomes soft and smooth. Allow the dough to cool and then store it in an airtight container.

Total time to make dough: 10 minutes. This is a very quick and easy recipe and the dough turns out great! 1 batch makes about the same amount as you would find in one small tub of store bought playdough.
Recipe Source: http://www.kinderthemes.com/Gingerbread.html

Peppermint Play Dough


3 cups flour
1 1/2 cup salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 cups water
3 tablespoons oil
peppermint extract

Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture pulls away from side of pan.  Be sure to stir constantly.  Knead and add color if desired.
This concoction will last up to three months in the refrigerator, if kept in an airtight container.

source: http://www.easyfunschool.com/article1409.html


WFMW: Brining A Turkey How and Why


Thanksgiving time is here and that means for many of us serving turkey for dinner. I truly love turkey and the more flavorful it is the better I love it. One way to prepare a flavorful turkey is to brine your turkey. If you are not familiar with brining I have shared in this post one way to brine a turkey.


Brining a turkey will draw out the moisture originally in the Turkey. The brine will help to re-introduce flavored liquid into the turkey so that the turkey will not dry out during cooking. Brine also sweetens up the meat making a more flavorful turkey.

How to brine? You need to start with a fully defrosted turkey with the inner bag containing the neck, giblets, etc... Rinse the entire turkey in cold water in the sink. To brine the turkey use an ice chest that is more than large enough to completely cover the turkey with liquid. Fill the ice chest 2/3 with cold water from the tap. Mix in enough salt til the water tastes like salty sea water. Add 2-3 cups of sugar into the water Stir to dissolve The mix should now taste like sweet sea water. Place the turkey into the chest let the turkey "brine" overnight. Be sure to keep the water in the ice chest cold. This can be done by placing ice chest in cool place or by placing bags of ice into the ice chest. (importantly don't empty bags of ice -- this will dilute your mix) When ready to cook remove turkey from brine and cook as usual.
Shared on Works For Me Wednesday @ We Are That Family

Youth Bonfire

I was so happy to see a large group of young people turn out for the youth bonfire night. Normally young people find something else to do on a weekend but this great group of young folks turned out for a  hay ride and bonfire at our youth ministers house. I am so proud of all of thes young folks

shared on Wordless Wednesday

Tackled It On Tuesday : Preparing Hubbys Favorite Meal

I am just a bit late on this one but it was tackled on Tuesday. What was it that I tackled? I tackled making one of my hubbys favorite meals. He does not request it all the time but he does like it and it does bring back memories of being a child. What is it?
1 pound dry great Northern beans


1/2 pound cooked ham, diced

1 small onion, diced

1/2 cup brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley

Rinse beans in a large pot; discard shriveled beans and any small stones. Add 8 cups of cold water. Let stand overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse beans. Return beans to pot and add ham, onion, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne and parsley and water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until beans are tender. Add more water if necessary during cooking time.

serve side of it some cornbread and it will taste so delicious. We only make it about once every 3 months as it is something that we enjoy but make so much that once it is gone we want no more for a while.

shared on 5 minutes for mom Tackle It Tuesday

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Get A Free Santa Spread Head

In the spirit of the Holiday season, Spread Heads would like to offer you a FREE Santa Ketchup Head*. Limited to one FREE Santa Ketchup Head per order (an order is a purcahse of one or more Spread Heads).

Cost of Shipping & Handling not included. Offer good while supplies last.



Just think of all the fun you can have through out the Christmas season with the Santa Spread Head. Hurry to get one now

Thankfulness

More Than A Day
As Thanksgiving Day rolls around,
It brings up some facts, quite profound.
We may think that we're poor,
Feel like bums, insecure,
But in truth, our riches astound.

We have friends and family we love;
We have guidance from heaven above.
We have so much more
Than they sell in a store,
We're wealthy, when push comes to shove.

So add up your blessings, I say;
Make Thanksgiving last more than a day.
Enjoy what you've got;
Realize it's a lot,
And you'll make all your cares go away.
By Karl Fuchs






Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.


If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,

for it gives you the opportunity to learn.



Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,

because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,

because it will build your strength and character.



Be thankful for your mistakes.

They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,

because it means you’ve made a difference.



It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.

A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who

are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,

and they can become your blessings.



shared on Poetry Potluck

Tips for Saving Money While Shopping and Gift Giving

I love the Holidays, all of them. They seem to be a time when family comes together. You know when we can all get together to see each other for a visit and to catch up with all that has been going on. The only problem with family get together is that if one is not careful the money that one spends can quickly get out of control. Office Depot and Twitter Mom has asked mom blogger’s to share tips on how to save money while shopping and gifting.




1. Create a budget and stick to it. In this budget you can create categories within your budget to cover the plans you may have. Food is normally always a part of the get together that I love you can plan ahead what you will need and estimate on what it will cost. I often like to go a bit over budget on groceries because one never knows if the store will unexpectedly raise prices or if there may be something you just cant live without. Another category you may need to plan in your budget is entertainment. If you are hosting what is it that you incorporate to host you guest? At the same time if you are traveling you will need to budget hotel fees, meals if eating on the road, gas and whatever else you may need.



2. Using cash is always a great idea. It may seem easier and if you are getting all you want using credit cards but let me tell you after the holidays that plastic will have to be paid for which may leave you a bit shock and wondering what to do. Using cash allows you to see exactly where your money is going and how much you have left to spend.



3. While using cash it never helps to keep receipts so that you can go back over your purchases at a less stressful time.



4. Use resources while planning your shopping list. Resources such as magazines, catalogs and online may help you find coupons and tips for saving money.



5. Purchasing gift cards is a perfect way to stick on budget and it also allows the receiver to choose what they would use.



6. Some sales appear early and the secret here is to keep your eye open at all times. The item that you are looking for may be on sale prior to the Christmas shopping season. If you know that someone on your list is wanting something specific then you can keep your eyes open at all times.



7. Another great way to shop is by lay away plan or easy payments. This is different from credit cards as there is either no or small interest with this type of arrangement. You can break the payments down over time to purchase the best presents for the ones you love.



8. Shopping used and second hand stores is another grand idea. These type of shops often have either new or nearly new items which can be purchased at a low price and given for gifts. In addition if you have a collector on your list that is looking for items that are not available in retail stores these type of shops carry items at reasonable prices that you can not find here.



9. Hosting dinner for the holidays? To cut down on expenses one idea would be to host a potluck. You can purchase the entrée and guest can bring the side dishes and desserts to go along. Along these same lines is the topic of gifts from the kitchen. In my opinion these types of gifts show how much one cares for another.



10. My last tip has to do with not only saving money, having a great time but also taking a break from the stress and rush of the holiday season. Host a get together with friends on an afternoon. Serve homemade cookies and cocoa which is very inexpensive and catch up on the old times. This is a great way to host a gift exchange.

The great thing about Christmas is that there are times that we all rush around but don't forget to sit down and take a break. Thanks to Office Depot and Twitter Moms for allowing me to share my thoughts on how to have a great time shopping and gift giving for all.

About Office Depot:
Office Depot, Inc. is a global supplier of office products and services. The company was incorporated in 1986 with the opening of our first retail store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In fiscal year 2009, we sold $12.1 billion of products and services to consumers and businesses of all sizes through our three business segments: North American Retail Division, North American Business Solutions Division and International Division. Sales are processed through multiple channels, consisting of office supply stores, a contract sales force, an outbound telephone account management sales force, Internet sites, direct marketing catalogs and call centers, all supported by our network of supply chain facilities and delivery operations.



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“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Office Depot blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 Office Depot gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Pecan Squares

2 cups all-purpose flour


2/3 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

2/3 cup butter

3 tablespoons whipping cream

3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Sift together 2 cups flour and 2/3 cup powdered sugar. Cut in 3/4 cup softened butter using a pastry blender or fork just until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool. Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in pecans, and pour hot filling into prepared crust. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares.



Recipe Source:
Judy Russell, Birmingham, Alabama, Southern Living, NOVEMBER 2004

Candied Sweet Potatoes


3 cans (15 oz. each) sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
 1 tsp. ground ginger
 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 cups Miniature Marshmallows

HEAT oven to 350°F. BEAT potatoes, butter and spices with mixer until well blended. SPOON into 1-1/2-qt. casserole sprayed with cooking spray; top with marshmallows. BAKE 15 to 20 min. or until potato mixture is heated through and marshmallows are lightly browned.

Cranberry and Cream Cheese Cake

•Duncan Hines Butter Recipe cake mix


•1 - 8oz package of softened cream cheese

•1 - 3 oz package of vanilla instant pudding

•1/2 cup vegetable oil

•4 eggs beaten

•2 tsp vanilla

•2 cups dried cranberries

1.Mix cream cheese and oil until creamy

2.Add pudding mix, cake mix, eggs, vanilla to the cream cheese mixture

3.Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes

4.Fold in cranberries

5.Grease and flour Bundt-type cake pan

6.Pour batter into prepared cake pan

7.Depending on type of oven, bake at least 1 hour at 325 degrees

8.After cooling, drizzle a light glaze across the top of cake

Recipe Source: Duncan Hines

Joe Shopping giveaway

With everyone starting or finishing up Christmas shopping many are looking for great deals, bargains and products that are new and different. I was recently introduced to a new shopping site joeshopping.com where the first deal I found was a great deal on N.Y & co products of buy one and get one 1/2 price. You may want to check out this new to me shopping site. Kimberly of She Scribes is hosting a giveaway where one lucky winner will receive $100 gift card to joeshopping.com This giveaway ends November 26, 2010

Fun Thanksgiving Treat Kids can Make

1-1/2 teaspoons process cheese sauce


1 rich round cracker

1 bite-size rich round cheese cracker sandwich

5 to 10 crunchy cheese-flavored snacks, canned shoestring potatoes, and/or pretzel sticks

2 corn nuts or peanuts

1 small piece yellow sweet pepper or carrot

1 piece pimiento

2 raisins

For the turkey body, spread cheese sauce on 1 side of the rich round cracker with a table knife. Ror the head, press the cracker sandwich into the cheese sauce. For the tail feathers, place the cheese-flavored snacks, shoestring potatoes, and/or the pretzel sticks about half of the way around the head. For the feet, press the corn nuts or peanuts into the cheese sauce, extending the nuts slightly over the bottom edge of the cracker. For the beak, place the piece of yellow sweet pepper or carrot on cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut a small triangular piece that looks like a beak. Next cut a small piece from the pimiento for the wattle. Use a little additional cheese sauce to attach the beak, the wattle, and the two raisin eyes to the head. Makes 1 turkey.

recipe source: Better Homes and Gardens

Oreo Thanksgiving Turkey Snack out of store bought candies



2 Oreo Double Stuff cookies
1 malted milk balls (like a whopper)
4-6 candy corn
icing (optional)

1Take 1 oreo apart. This will be the base.
2Place the whole oreo on its side on the base, so that it sticks to white of the oreo.
3In front of the oreo on its side, place a malted-milk ball for the turkeys head.
4Place candy corn, points down, in between the oreo cookie that is standing on it's side.

sharing on Happy Homemaker Monday

Monday, November 15, 2010

Clic-It Diaper Bag System Review and Contest Information

This cute little family of three will soon be a family four. We are so happy that we welcome our Prince to the family very soon. While mommy and daddy are very happy that does mean that mommy will have a few more things to take with her when she goes anywhere. Princess who now takes a sippy cup and a few toys as well as a few other things will still need to go with her as well. In additon to all that will be the new baby things and we all know how many things a new baby may need.

My daughter is better than I am at staying organized but when it comes to taking care of all the things a infant or toddler need organization becomes key. That is why I love the clic-it You may be wondering what a clic-it is so let me share a bit about the clic it with you. The Clic-It is the smart diaper bag system. The Clic-It has been designed to make parents life eaier. When I first glanced at the Clic-It bag I recieved I instantly thought of lap top bags or sachels that college kids carry. So the look is great and something that mom or dad can carry easily.
Clic- It makes a parents or grandparents life easier by allowing you to organize and easily change it so that it meets all your needs. Clic - It features a patent-pending quick release clip system that lets you attach and detach baby travel accessories -- enabling you to mix n' match the Clic-it accessory totes for different occasions. The Clic It system is the only diaper bag you will ever need because you can organize and customize it the way you need it. From daily use to from long trip use the Clic-It system can provide what is needed.

bottle carrier
The bottle carrier is created to carry two bottles and clip onto the large Clic-It bag The bottle carrier is insulated to make sure that the infants drinks stay cold.
The pacifier holder is something that I personally love because Princess loves her pacifier. We all know how easy it is to lose the pacifier in the diaper bag, purse, etc.. The pacifier holder gives it a special place so that we know that it is safe, clean and know exactly where it is.


Look at all the room you have in this insulated tote. Perfect for over night stays when traveling during the holidays. You can keep extra food, medicine, bottles, snacks, etc.. in this carry all that easily attaches to the Clic-It diaper bag.

In total there are 11 products that help make up the Clic-It diaper bag system. You can purchase them all and only attach them when needed or purchase just what you need and purchase more as you need them. That is what I love about the Clic-It system it puts you in charge of how you stay organized.

You can purchase the Clic-It system on the Clic It website at  http://www.clicitbag.com/
follow Clic-It on twitter
like clic-it on facebook

GEARING UP FOR BABY CONTEST
Enter the Gearing up for Baby Contest for the chance to win a Clic-It system valued at $117. Contest will run November 15-December 24 Visit Clic It Bag to find out more information on this contest sponsored by Clic-It bag

 Thanks so much to Clic-It and Team Mom for sending me this cool product to review.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Best Flaky Pastry


1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening or 1/3 cup lard

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Pecan Filling

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup corn syrup

2 tablespoons bourbon, if desired

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup pecan halves or broken pecans

1 bag (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)


1Heat oven to 375ºF.2In medium bowl, mix flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing knives, until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).3Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Roll pastry, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down pie plate, 9x1 1/4 inches. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired.4In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, corn syrup, bourbon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the eggs with hand beater. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Cover edge with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excess browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.5Bake pie 40 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate about 2 hours until chilled.
 
recipe source: Tablespoon

Freezable Breakfast Tacos

Freezable Breakfast Tacos - Easy Breakfast Idea
Looking for a quick and easy way to tackle the breakfast rush? The key to eating a nutritious breakfast is planning ahead. On busy days, it is great to have these in the freezer, ready to microwave and go. We have made these many times for our children before they are easy to make and pleases them.
1 dozen eggs

1/2 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1 package frozen hash browns

1 pound breakfast sausage

1 jar salsa

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

8 oz shredded Monterey jack cheese

20 flour tortillas medium size

You will need parchment paper and zip lock bags for wrapping and freezing.


Prepare the hash browns according to the package directions.  Fry the breakfast sausage. . Scramble the eggs with the milk and salt and pepper. . Mix the hashbrowns, sausage, and eggs in a large bowl. . Mix the cheeses.  On a square of parchment paper, place one tortilla.  Place several tablespoons of hash brown, sausage, and egg mixture onto the tortilla in a line, slightly off center. Amount used will depend on the size of your tortilla, but don't stuff too full.  Add a Tablespoon of salsa thinly along the top of the egg mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top of all.  Fold the ends gently in, then fold over one side and roll up.  Roll up in wax paper, place into ziplock bag, and repeat with next tortilla.  Place the tortillas into the freezer.  When ready to eat, place tortilla into microwave on high for ninety seconds. Add 1 minute for each additional tortilla.

Now that you've tried this recipe, be creative. Perhaps stuff the tortillas with tonight's leftover mashed potatoes and roast beef. Try ham with macaroni and cheese. Use your imagination and your leftovers to create healthy breakfasts that can be ready in a minute. Enjoy!

Pecan Bars

Crust:


nonstick cooking spray

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with the cooking spray. Line the pan with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; spray the parchment with the cooking spray. Make the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar, and salt; pulse until fine crumbs form. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake until pale golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, honey, granulated sugar, and cream; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pecans and vanilla. Spread over the crust and let cool in the pan, about 1 hour.
Holding both sides of the paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 24 rectangles (6 rows by 4 rows). Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe Source : Real Simple

Peanut Butter Toffee Turtle Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened


1/2 cup DOMINO Granulated Sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed DOMINO Light Brown Sugar

2/3 cup creamy USA PEANUT Butter

1 large egg

2 cups BISQUICK Original All-Purpose Baking Mix

2/3 cup almond toffee bits

2/3 cup coarsely chopped USA PEANUTS

2/3 cup NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Milk Chocolate Morsels

10 ounce vanilla caramels

2 to 3 tablespoons whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Milk Chocolate Morsels, melted


TIP: The chocolate drizzle on the cookies will harden as it cools.

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg, beating until blended. Add baking mix, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in toffee bits, chopped peanuts, and 2/3 cup chocolate morsels. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets; flatten dough with hand. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool cookies on baking sheets 1 minute; remove cookies to wire racks. Microwave caramels and 2 tablespoons cream in a glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute; stir. Continue to microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring until caramels melt and mixture is smooth; add remaining cream, if necessary. Stir in vanilla. Spoon caramel mixture evenly onto tops of cookies; drizzle evenly with melted chocolate.



recipe source : Southern Living 2003

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds white or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces


kosher salt and pepper

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and add 2 1/2 tablespoons salt. Reduce heat and simmer until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the butter, buttermilk, cream, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Mash the potatoes with a handheld masher. Transfer to a serving dish

Turkey and Dressing Casserole

Have you ever had the problem of what to do with left over turkey? If so then here is a perfect recipe for you. Since it can also be used with leftover chicken this recipe can be used any time throughout the year.



1 celery rib, chopped


1/4 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup coarsely crumbled corn bread

1 cup cubed day-old bread

2 tablespoons chicken or turkey broth

1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper



GRAVY:

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chicken or turkey broth

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey

Dry bread crumbs, optional


In a small skillet, saute celery and onion in butter until tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the corn bread, bread cubes, broth and seasonings. Transfer to a greased 1-qt. baking dish. For gravy, in a large saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Gradually add broth and milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Spoon half of the gravy over dressing mixture. Layer with turkey and remaining gravy. Sprinkle with bread crumbs if desired. Cover and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

Nordic Ware giveaway

Do you ever feel like you want some cake but you do not feel like making a large family size cake? Well then you should take a look at all the cute pans that are available at Nordic Ware. Created cute little cakes that are all ready available in individual size. How great is that.



Want to know something else that is great? Well the blog Audrey's Giveaway is hosting a giveaway extravganza and of the great giveaways is this nordic ware pan and cookbook. You will enjoy all the great recipes you can bake and created for the holiday season and the ones you love.



giveaway ends December 10, 2010