Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Must for Every Wardrobe #Spon

Do you like the look of layers but hate the bulk? It seems sometimes when I wear layers, the under layer tends to ride up and bunch up around the middle, making me uncomfortable and my outfit look sloppy. It happens sometimes even when I wear a tank under things. That's why I love the concept of Halftees. As soon as I heard of them, I knew I wanted to try them. I am so glad they sent me a couple to try out for free in exchange for my honest opinions.

Halftees are one of those things that make you want to wack yourself on the head and say, "Why didn't I think of that?" Concept is so simple--a layering shirt that is basically just the half that shows--neckline and arms.  The story behind Halftees is this:
About eight years ago I had just given birth to our third baby ( we now have 7! ) As I was trying to nurse him and fighting with not one shirt but two ( layers of course!) I asked myself, grumpily "why can't someone come up with a half shirt that still provides all the modest coverage I need in the neckline and sleeve but ditch all the bulky length?" It wasn't until after my fifth child that I realized I was the "someone" and decided I needed to take action and design my own undershirt. Thus Halftee Layering Fashions was born - a layering piece that is "all style-no hassle"
There are a range of styles from tanks to long sleeve, from plain to lace or peeks of lace. They have Halftees for women, plus size, pregnant women and even kids. Halftees come in a variety of colors as well to suit all your wardrobe needs. You would think something so great would be expensive, but they are not. Just like the the concept of Halftees, they are modestly priced at round $9-$24. With summer coming on, I can see the advantage in being able to keep the layered look without adding heat.
I tried the tank Halftee in black. I can't tell you how perfect this is. I have so many wrap dresses that are cut just a bit low. Wearing the Halftee gives me just enough coverage or more coverage (if I reverse it) to allow me to wear my dresses without the need to pin the neckline so I don't show all my goods and also don't have to worry about a tank or cami riding up around my waist as the two inch signature band keeps the Halftee in place. I also like the feel of the fabric. It is so soft--48% Cotton, 48% Modal, 4% Spandex.

The other Halftee they sent me was 3/4 Halftee. This is perfect for wearing under my sport shirts for when I want more sleeve.  Once again, it is also reversable for a higher or lower neckline and made out of the same, soft material. With summer coming on, I can see the advantage in being able to keep the layered look without adding heat.

Here are some pictures so you can see how cute these look in real life.

To learn more about Halftee, visit

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Two Recipes from 150 Best Recipes for Cooking in Foil #recipes

I love to make easy meals with less clean up, so I was happy to review 150 Best Recipes for Cooking in Foil by Marilyn Haugen in exchange for my honest opinions.

As you may already know, I love to go camping. But whether I am home or out camping, I love dinners that don't require a lot of clean up. Cooking in foil is the perfect solution. That being said, I can only eat so much campfire stew, so I am always on the hunt for great recipes that can be prepared in foil.

If you haven't ever cooked in foil, this book is perfect as it includes some important tips such as the difference between flat packets and tent-style packets and how to make each. Also included are great tips for foil packet success. Trust me, little things like making sure you use heavy duty foil can make all the difference.

The first section of the book includes all camping recipes from breakfast to dessert. These recipes include canned ingredients or pantry staples with basic seasonings so you have less to pack. However, if you are like me and do more glamping (camping in a camper rather than a tent) than camping, you can definitely use any recipes in the book as you most likely have some conveniences of a refrigerator.

The next section of the book is dedicated to grilling recipes and includes recipes from starters to main dishes, side dishes and desserts.

The last section cover oven recipes. Perfect for winter or when you don't want to girl. Included are snacks and starters to desserts.

The book includes two sections of glossy color spreads of different recipes as well as an index.

I made the Ginger Soy Salmon with Lemon Caper Butter the other night and it was even better than I imagined. The entire family gobbled it up. I thought I was making enough to have some leftover, but that wasn't the case because we all wanted more. 

I like that the recipes don't require exotic ingredients that I have no idea what they are or where to find. The recipes naturally are fairly simple to put together, simple to cook, and more simple to clean up. Yep, clean up means wadding up the foil and tossing it and wiping the counter. Love it!

Courtesy of 150 Best Recipesfor Cooking in Foil by Marilyn Haugen © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes are elevated to a new flavor level with black beans, peppers and onions, creating a hearty vegetarian meal that even meat lovers will enjoy.

Makes 6 servings
 Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
        6 sheets heavy-duty foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
6           sweet potatoes (each about 5 oz/150 g) 6
1 tsp     virgin olive oil                                      5 mL
1           can (14 to 19 oz/398 to 540 mL) black beans, rinsed and drained 1
1           red bell pepper, finely chopped               1
1           small red onion, finely chopped              1
1 tsp     chili powder                                         5 mL
1 tsp     paprika                                                 5 mL
             Kosher salt
12        cup plain Greek yogurt                   125 mL
1 tsp     taco seasoning                                    5 mL
12         cup salsa                                         125 mL
12        cup shredded Mexican cheese blend 125 mL
14        cup chopped green onions               60 mL
1.  Brush skin of sweet potatoes with oil. Place a sweet potato on each prepared foil sheet. Prick tops of sweet potatoes with a fork. Wrap foil tightly around sweet potatoes. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until slightly softened.
2.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine beans, red pepper, onion, chili powder and paprika. Season to taste with salt.
3.  Carefully, to avoid tearing foil, open packets and cut a large slice across the top of each sweet potato. Lightly mash sweet potato flesh with a fork. Pack bean mixture into sweet potatoes, dividing evenly. Fold foil into tent-style packets and seal edges tightly. Place packets on a baking sheet.
4.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are softened to your liking and toppings are heated through.
 5.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogurt and taco seasoning.

6.  Serve sweet potatoes topped with seasoned yogurt, salsa, cheese and green onions.

Sweet potato skins can be eaten, if desired. Choose sweet potatoes that do not have a waxy or dyed exterior. Organically grown or farmers market sweet potatoes are your best choice for this.

Mandarin Orange Chicken and Broccoli
This is one of my all-time favorite choices for takeout Chinese food. This version is simple enough to take camping and grill over hot coals.

Makes 6 servings

·        Prepare campfire coals
·        6 sheets heavy-duty foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
112 lbs boneless skinless chicken (dark or light meat), sliced  750 g

3 cups   cooked rice                                      750 mL
1           red bell pepper, sliced                               1
1           green bell pepper, sliced                           1
1           onion, sliced                                              1
3 cups   broccoli florets                               750 mL
2           mandarin orange fruit cups, with juice  2
1 cup     thawed frozen peas                         250 mL
3 tbsp    teriyaki sauce                                    45 mL
1.   Divide chicken evenly among prepared foil sheets. Top with rice, red pepper, green pepper, onion, broccoli, oranges and peas, dividing evenly. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce. Fold foil into tent-style packets and seal edges tightly.
2.   Place packets on hot coals and cook for 30 minutes, turning packets over occasionally, until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink.

Prepare the peppers, onions and broccoli at home and pack them in your cooler. They can all be combined in a plastic food storage bag.
Mandarin orange fruit cups come in 4- or 6-count packages. The remaining cups make a great snack or breakfast side.

Ramona Quimby Author Beverly Cleary Turns 100!

Links in this post contain affiliate links to Amazon's best prices.

 I could hardly believe that Beverly Cleary is nearly 100! She is an amazing author of timeless books such as Ramona the Pest, Ribsy and Mouse and the Motorcycle.  Books I read and enjoyed--books my children have read and enjoyed. If you haven't read them, grab a copy of some and read with your child. I guarantee you both will enjoy the antics of her characters!

I really enjoyed watching this interview of her on the Today Show as seen below.  Happy Birthday, Beverly!

Giveaway! Purex Plus Clorox2 Stain Fighting Enzymes #Spon

I have been using Purex in my laundry room for years. I love the way it works and cleans and it is such a smart value compared to other products. So, I was happy to try a free bottle of the New Purex Plus Clorox2 Stain Fighting Enzymes and give my honest opinions of it.

The nitty gritty of this new product--it combines Purex with Clorox 2 stain fighters. This formula is designed to remove the toughest stains--works on 100 stains (think tomato sauce, chocolate, ice cream, BBQ sauce, grass, blood). PLUS, it is safe for colors and contains no bleach. It comes in two fragrances: Original Fresh and Sunny Linen.

I decided to try it on my bedspread. It is a floral with a white background. I have two dogs who sleep on the bed. I know--what was I thinking, right? Anyway, the white was turning a shade of tan/gray and looking pretty dingy. I have used Clorox 2 on my whites in the past so I thought I would try the new Purex Plus Clorox2 to see if I could freshen it up. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a before photo (too excited to try it out), but here are the after photos. It looks brand new! Even the colors, which had faded since I purchased, seemed brighter to me. Whether that was just because the white was now whiter, I am not sure, but I am happy!



One day, my pup was outside and decided to dig a hole. I didn't notice till I had unhooked her and was on the way in that she had muddy paws. So, trying to hold her in a way that I didn't get mud, I grabbed the first towel I could find. Yeah, a white one. What was I thinking, you might ask. Um, maybe I'd rather have mud on the towel than the carpet? I figured that was the end of the white towel. Take a look at it. Mud. Grass. The works.


 But then I remembered the Purex Plus Clorox2 and thought I would give it a try. I did rub a bit on as a pre-treatment and tossed it in the laundry. Look at it--it's amazing!


I love how I was able to brighten the whites and colors with just one product. And a product that removes the worst stains. Clorox clean that is safe for colors--perfecto!I also love the fresh, clean scent that Purex always has, too.

Now for the super fun part--I get to share the love. Purex is giving one lucky reader will get coupons to try Purex plus Clorox2 for themselves. Just enter below!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You Won't Believe What My Dogs Can Do for These Treats! #BeyondSnacks @BeyondPetFood #GotItFree #dogs

As a member of BzzAgent, I received the new Purina Beyond Dog Treats to try for free, as well as coupon for the dog food and a coupon for treats.. When I opened the All Natural White Meat Chicken Cutlets I was shocked--it looked and smelled like a dehydrated piece of chicken. Seriously, if it wasn't so tough, I might have tried it. Then I read the ingredients and was impressed even more. I had heard of all of the ingredients.  Chicken, glycerin, and salt. NO CORN, WHEAT OR SOY, NO POULTRY BY-PRODUCT MEAL, NO ADDED ARTIFICIAL COLORS, FLAVORS OR PRESERVATIVES. In other words, NO CRAP! Wow--good, clean eating for dogs!

Another one I was sent was the All Natural Biscuits Salmon and Oats Recipe. This is more like your traditional dog biscuit. It is waffle shaped (and easy to break if you have smaller dogs). When I opened the bag, it did smell a bit like salmon. Once again, basic ingredients with fish being the first: Salmon, barley, oat meal, chicken meal, dried potatoes, pea starch, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, sea salt, natural hickory smoke flavor. None of the bad stuff.

Of course, the true test comes down to the dogs. Would they even notice a difference? The answer is a definitive YES! I can tell by how excited they get when they hear me get the bag. And they will do just about anything to get one of these treats. Check out the girls playing a song on the piano that they composed by themselves. They were motivated by these treats--even the stubborn one.

I have also been feeding them the Beyond Dog Food. We have been 4 or 5 of the formulas and they seem to like them all equally. And once again, all good stuff and none of the really bad stuff. Real meat, poultry, fish and natural ingredients plus essential nutrients. No added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. No poultry by-product meal. And sourced from trusted suppliers. I have already noticed a difference in their waste. Even unprompted, my husband commented tonight he noticed a difference in their waste, too.

Beyond is a bit more costly than what I was feeding them, but with ingredients like these, I can't help but to think I am adding to a long, happy life for these dogs. After all, isn't your dog worth it? Also, right now, Red Plum has coupons and Kroger has digital coupons for great savings.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hiking Greeter Falls Savage Gulf State Natural Area, TN #Hiking

This past week, I spent a lot of time hiking in the Cumberland Plateau. A nice, fairly easy hike we took was to Greeter Falls. Greeter Falls is located in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area. The Greeter Falls Loop Trail is a short 1.6 mile loop. It gets a fair amount of traffic. The trail ranges from smooth, to heavy with roots or rocks. The trail can be very wet (or icy) after rain/snow. There are also steps and a spiral staircase and steep climbs.

It is a nice trail to do with children who have some hiking experience as it is short and offers a few waterfalls along the way. However, the trail is narrow in places with steep drop offs, so keep a close eye on your children (as you should always when hiking) and make sure they stay on the trail. Dogs can use this trail but must be leashed. There is a nice picnic area off the parking lot with tables and grills. Note--there are no restrooms.

I recommend hiking boots due to the rocks and roots on this trail. Also, after a rain, the trail is very wet in spots and waterproof shoes are required if you want to keep your feet dry.

I hiked this trail after a heavy rain, so the waterfalls were really flowing. From what I have seen online, they aren't always so strong in seasons outside of spring.

If you go left at the loop, you first will come up Boardtree Falls. Like I said, there had been a lot of rain the night before, so the falls were beautiful. There were actually two drops in this falls, plus a small falls coming off the rocks at the right. You could view this from above, or hike down boulders and rocks to get a better view from below.

The below photo gives you some perspective of how far down you hike to get below the falls.

The photo below gives you a better idea what the trail looks like.

To get to Lower Greeter Falls, you must take the spiral staircase. My dogs refused so my husband and I had to take turns going down. The kids loved it, though!

The falls at Lower Greeter Falls were heavy due to the recent rain and the waters below were fierce. I understand at other times, it is much calmer and people swim below the falls. The water color was also dark due to the churning of the water.

Upper Greeter Falls was easier to view, however, to get the closest, you did have to scale down a rooty, rocky path.

I would actually like to visit this area again when there hasn't been quite this much rain.

The Catholic Catalogue--A Field Guide #Books #Catholic

I received a copy of The Catholic Catalogue to facilitate this review. I was not compensated in any way nor required to write a favorable review.

I am a cradle Catholic. I spent 12 years in Catholic schools. My mom always said those that converted to Catholicism as adults know more about our beliefs than we do. And having married a man who converted as an adult, I would agree. He knows more about the history of the church (I have never been good at history) than I do.

But even at that, there is so much to the Catholic Church than neither of us know about. Intricacies such as signs and symbols, the multitude of feast days, when and why oils and incense are used...and the list goes on. There are things that go on in the parish that I belong to now that quite honestly, I had never heard of in any of the other parishes I belonged to in the past. And having children now who ask questions, I want to be able to give them correct answers instead of best guesses or I don't know answers. That's where The Catholic Catalogue--A Field Guide to the Daily Acts that Make Up a Catholic Life by Melissa Musick and Anna Keating comes in handy.

This book is set up like any guide book and is not meant to be read straight though, although one  could choose to do so. However, I think most would want to look things up as they have questions or curiosities. Or possibly, one might like to read it by the season of the year or seasons of life.

This is a big book--over 400 pages. It is printed on quality paper and bound appropriately with a hard cover. In other words, it is made to last and be referenced over and over.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part, Smells and Bells, covers traditions within the Catholic Church, such as holy water, vestments, sacred space, daily prayer. The second section is Seasons of the Church Year, including Ordering Time, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time. The third section is the Seasons of Life and includes Childhood to Adolescence, Young Adulthood and Adulthood.

In addition to the facts, this book has great ideas for Catholic traditions within the family. One is celebrating name day. Honor your child (or even your friend) with a celebration on the feast of the Saint whose name was received at baptism. A recipe is even included for a quick chocolate cake recipe for throwing a name day dessert party!

I don't think any guide book could ever cover all there is to know about Catholic life, but this is book is an excellent place to start. I suspect that from here, readers may want to research more about a different topic as they would with any guide. The author cleverly likens this book to a field guide for birds. As she states, "Birds are known by habits and habitats, by diet and coloration. Like us, the daily acts that make up Catholic life also can be identified by practices." As a birdwatcher, I remember my early days started with basic field guides. As I learned more, I found I researched some birds in greater detail. I believe this guide will have similar effects--as I learn more, I may want to research more on certain topics.

This book is great for cradle Catholics, new Catholics, people curious about Catholicism, non-Catholics who may want to understand Catholic practices better, or those thinking about becoming Catholic. It is easy to read and understand and readers will gain a clearer picture of Catholic life.

Read more about this mother-daughter author team at

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Catholic Catalogue to facilitate this review. I was not compensated in any way nor required to write a favorable review.

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