Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recycle Your Ziplock Bags!

Did you know that Ziploc bags can be recycled?  Naturally, I reuse mine, but if you are one to toss them, instead, take them to your local grocery store and dispose of them in the bag recycling bin. They can accept Ziploc bags, too!

Earth Day Challenge #earthday #green

 Happy Earth Day!  I am so happy someone came up with the Earth Day idea.  In America, where we have so much, it is easy to be wasteful.  Earth Day is a great reminder for us to be kinder to this wonderful planet we live on.  I am challenging my readers to adopt one (or more) earth friendly challenges below or come up with your own.

Earth Day Challenge Ideas

  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper
  • Hang clothes on the line to dry
  • Plant a tree
  • Shorten your shower
  • Use a rain barrel
  • Compost 
  • Use rags instead of paper towels
  • Adjust your thermostat a degree or two higher in the summer or lower in the winter
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Only run the dishwasher when it is fill
  • Only run full loads in the washing machine
  • Use a power strip to plug TV, cable boxes, games, DVD players, etc. into and turn off when not in use
  • When you leave a room, turn off the lights.  Teach your kids this, too.
  • Use CFL bulbs where you can
  • Plant flowers that are drought resistant if you live in a drought-prone area
  • Combine car trips and map out so you use the least amount of gas
  • Use recyclable grocery bags
  • Recycle
  • Make sure your garbage is secure from animals and high winds
  • Learn about invasive plants and trees in your areas and do not plant. Believe it or not, nurserys are famous for selling plants that are invasive and disrupt ecosystems
  • By foods and goods locally produced and made
  • Use reusable water bottles.  
  • At your kids sporting events, take a thermos of water and paper cups (better yet, plastic ones you can collect and reuse) rather than bottled water. 
  • Use rags instead of paper towels
  • Old t-shirts make great dust cloths and are cheaper than Swifters
There are many, many more ideas. Hopefully, you like something on this list or can come up with your own ideas to incorporate into your daily routine. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Coffee Review: Starbucks Spring Blend @Starbucks

Starbucks Spring Blend
Disclosure: I was provided product and a gift card in exchange for my honest opinions about the new Starbucks Spring Blend Coffee.

It has been a brutal winter, but spring has finally arrived!  I cannot tell you how happy that makes me.  This winter was especially grueling, not only because of the cold, bad weather, but because of a challenging personal situation.  So, this cool spring morning with the birds singing, it was a perfect time to try the new Starbucks Spring Blend coffee.

First off, I love the packaging.  It just looks happy.  And then the aroma--it is to die for.  I LOVE the smell of coffee!  So I cracked that baby open.  I am primarily a Pike Place coffee drinker and prefer a smooth and evenly balance coffee.  The Spring Blend fits this description but throws in a few nice surprises that really helped differentiate it from Pike Place.

I prepared Spring Blend using the pour-over method, and this really helped bring out the blend's unique flavors and aroma   I was able to detect some subtle hints of spiciness and almost a citrus-like flavoring as well.  Again, these were very subtle and not overpowering hints of flavor that just added to the overall taste of this blend.

I was really impressed with the Spring Blend.   I think it serves as a nice departure from and complement to the "standard" Pike Place blend, especially on a sunny spring morning.  The small and subtle differences make it a delightful alternative that certainly brighten my days this spring!  You should try it for yourself!

Hubs loves it, too!

Disclosure: I was provided product and a gift card in exchange for my honest opinions about the new Starbucks Spring Blend Coffee.

Bead for Life--Helping Women Help Themselves @BeadforLife

Disclosure:  Bead for Life sent me some products for review.  As always, this post contains my honest opinions.

As American women, we sometimes like to complain that we aren't treated as equals to men.  We complain that we don't make comparable salaries, aren't promoted to management positions, and so forth.  But when you look at the bigger picture of things, we, as American women, are truly blessed.  We are able to become educated, we are able to work, we can provide for our families.  It is not like that everywhere.  Take Uganda, for instance.  Women there live in extreme poverty with little to no income.  They not only lack jobs, they lack education.  It is truly heartbreaking.  I couldn't imagine as a mother, not being able to provide enough food for my children.

Bead for life
Loose beads to create your own designs.
I became interested in a company that does something to make a difference in these women's lives.  Bead for Life is non-profit company that helps provide women with training and skills to make products that are sold through house parties around the world. Each year, they help more than 10,000 Ugandans in more than 2,000 households, not through handouts, but through opportunities.  They not only teach women how to earn money by making beaded jewelry from recycled paper or gathering shea nuts, they also give them business or agricultural training to start their own unique business to be able to sustain their families in the future.

Bead for Life offers many products that Ugandan women make, including jewelry, lip balm, Shea Butter Soap, baskets and Akora shoulder bags.  I received a few product to review and I just simply LOVE them!  The beads don't even look like paper beads!  The glossy finish and uniformity makes it hard to believe that each bead is hand-made.  There is true talent here.  I also love the Akora shoulder bag.  It is a perfect size--not too large and cumbersome, but plenty big enough for a wallet, sunglasses, checkbook and more.  The fabrics of the bags are beautiful, too!  To touch these items and know that a mother on the other side of the world, made these items as a means of bettering her life, makes me feel honored to wear these products.

Beautiful necklace and bracelets!

Absolutely LOVE this Akora Bag!
Bead for Life is truly making a difference, but they can't do it without your help and the help of your friends.  Yep, your help.  Your friend's help.  My help.  All of us together--we can make a difference.  And it is EASY!  We all love to get together with our friends--whether for a house party or just to hang out.  Why not do it with a purpose?  Why not offer Bead for Life items for purchase, with the proceeds going to Ugandans?

Hosting a Bead for Life party is super easy.  Just visit the website and register.  Once registered, Bead for Life will send you a box of goods on consignment.  At your party, sell what you can and return the funds and unsold items in a box with the supplied pre-paid shipping label.  It couldn't be easier.  And think of the satisfaction you would have knowing that not only will you and your friends enjoy beautiful items, but you will be helping women become self-sufficient!  (You can read more about how it works by clicking

Why not change the world this Mother's Day?  You can honor mothers and friends by finding unique gifts all while changing the lives of other mothers in Uganda.  Just host a Mother's Day Bead for Life party and change the world.  Just make sure you register before May 2 to make sure you receive your party box on time!  I definitely am excited about hosting a party for my friends in the future!

Follow Bead for Life on:

Disclosure:  Bead for Life sent me some products for review.  As always, this post contains my honest opinions.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Indian Food for Dinner! @TandoorChef

Disclosure:  I received coupons for product to facilitate this review.

I haven't eaten much Indian food in my life for the simple reason that I haven't had much opportunity.  I do have a couple recipes I make that use curry, and I love them.  I was eager to try some other Indian foods and Tandoor Chef seemed to be a perfect way for me to experience some different tastes of Indian cuisine at home.

Tandoor Chef is a second-generation family owned and operated compan that is committed to producing restaurant quality, all natural, frozen Indian food.

Tandoor Chef has a wide selection of frozen meals.  My family and I tried the the following entrees:

    Indian Food
  • Chicken Tikka Masala with Cumin-Infused Basmati Rice
  • Chicken Tandoori with Spinach
  • Chicken Curry with Seasoned Basmatic Rice
  • Palak (Saag) Paneer
I really had no idea what I was getting into, except for the curry.  These were very easy to prepare, just put in the microwave for about 4 minutes or the conventional oven for 20-25.  I used the microwave.  We decided to mix and match and make a variety which we all shared.  I was really surprise at how good everything tasted!  I also liked that my kids enjoyed the entrees as well.  They definitely did not taste like frozen entrees and in my opinion, tasted like restaurant quality meals (funny thing is, I thought that before I even read the company info which states that).  

I also love how clean the ingredient list is.  I recognized every single ingredient.  These frozen entrees are made without any preservatives and no artificial colors.  However, those with food allergies need to take heed and read the labels.  Depending upon the meal, some may contain common food allergens.  The Chicken Tikka Masala is one that doesn't list any common food allergens.

So, if you are looking for a quick, tasty meal, be sure to check out Tandoor Chef.  I know I will be keeping a stash of these in my freezer!

Tandoor Chef is proud to support National Celiac Awareness Month during the month of May with an awareness campaign and contest. Recently recognized as the nation’s #1 frozen Indian brand, Tandoor Chef is committed to producing restaurant quality, all natural frozen Indian food. A quality innovation leader, Tandoor Chef provides exotic flavors and meal experiences, rooted in the convenience of the frozen food category. The brand is also certified vegetarian, vegan, and touts many gluten-free products within its robust line of appetizers, entrees and naan breads.

Disclosure:  I received coupons for product to facilitate this review.

#Giveaway: 4-Set Books on Motherhood (From Touching to Snarky and Everything in Between) #books

Disclosure: I received copies of these books to facilitate this review.  As always, my honest opinions are shared.

Motherhood is definitely a tough job. Especially if you do it right. It can be the worst job you have ever had (seriously, where else can you literally say that someone crapped on you today) and the most rewarding job you have ever had (smiles and hugs are simply priceless). Mothers everywhere should be rewarded for their efforts in raising up their children.

I am happy to say that for this Mother's Day, I am able to offer four wonderful books for a giveaway.  These books are sure to touch or tickle mothers everywhere.

For the New Mother: Little Blessings by Anne Geddes

A beautiful, new gift book that features the world of award-winning photographer and New York Times bestseller Anne Geddes. Each spread features a unique photograph paired with a thoughtful quote or blessing that highlights the joy, beauty, and wonder that new babies bring to every parent. Through the lens of Anne Geddes, Little Blessings captures the unparalleled relationship between child and caregiver.

What can I say?  Who doesn't love the photography of Anne Geddes?  That alone makes this a beautiful book, but added to it are lovely quotes about motherhood, such as A baby is born with a need for love, and never outgrows it or A soul is healed by being with children.  Simply a beautiful hardbound book that will be treasured by mothers.

For the Inspired Mother: Love Blooms in a Mother’s Heart by Kathy Davis

Love Blooms in a Mother's Heart by Kathy Davis
Whether your mom lives just around the corner or is cherished deep in the memories of your heart, the words of love and wisdom in Love Blooms in a Mother’s Heart by top greeting card designer Kathy Davis will bring you a little closer to your own. Known for her whimsical style and uplifting sentiments of giving and sharing joy, Kathy Davis is a true woman entrepreneur who turned a passion into a business.

Simply sweet and beautiful.  Filled with quotes that will inspire mothers.  Watercolor pictures brighten these pages.  A lovely gift book!

For the Snarky Mother: I’m Dangerous…I’m Not Gonna Lie by Erin Smith

From Erin Smith – a hip, irreverent visual artist with a nationally distributed gift line and a unique, pitch-perfect look – comes I’m Dangerous…I’m Not Gonna Lie - a mash up of art, essays, and laugh-out-loud observations designed to find humor in the everyday mundane. Celebrate the art of living loud with the sassiest, smartest, hottest gift book.   Includes hilarious, make-your-day quotes like:  The super girl cape is in the laundry… you’ll just have to take my word for it,” “As much as I try to be an easygoing, stretch-your-wings-and-fly type, I just can’t stop trying to burst people into flames with my mind.”

If you are the snarky type, this one is for you.  Personally, I like to think motherhood is more than being snarky about everything, but to each her own.  I do like the mixed media art work contained on the pages.

For the Mother Who’s A Kid Again: Big Me, Little You

Create a memory-filled journal with the kid in your life! The Big Me, Little You journal is packed with fun prompts, activities, and crafts that provide you with a way to share and engage with the special kid in your life. Fill it out together or send it back and forth – there’s no limit to the way you can connect and share through words, pictures and lists!

A wonderful book!  I could hardly keep my daughter's hands off this paperback book to write the review.  This is the type of book that can build bonds between kids and mom.  Perfect for little ones, too as long as they can talk and Mom can write.  But also, just as awesome for teens, too!  Kudos!

Anyway, if you would love to win a copy of each of these books, please enter the giveaway below!  Open in the US and Canada!

Disclosure: I received copies of these books to facilitate this review.  As always, my honest opinions are shared.

Friday, April 11, 2014

#Win $50 HoneyBaked Ham Gift Card #HoneyBakedEaster #ad

Disclosure: I received a HoneyBaked gift card to try out products to facilitate this review.

I really like to enjoy the holidays, but being stuck in the kitchen sometimes can make an enjoyable time just so busy that you don't really get to visit with your family/company.  So, I try to find as many shortcuts as I can to make things easier and less stressful for me and my husband (yes--I am lucky--the hubs is a great help in the kitchen).  With Easter approaching, HoneyBaked Ham is perfect for creating an easy, delicious meal that gives you time to spend with your guests.  Whether you just want to order one of their delicious signature Hams or their delicious Turkey Breast (or maybe both), you and your guests will love the sweet, crunchy glaze on either one.  You can also order yummy Heat & Share Sides, such as potatoes au gratin or green bean casserole.

I decided to serve up an early Easter meal with my friends and stopped by the HoneyBaked store in Florence, KY.  I didn't need to order in advance, but I would advise checking with your store, especially if ordering for the holiday.  I picked up a quarter bone in ham.  I am a huge fan of the HoneyBaked Ham ham.  That glaze is awesome.  I also like that it is pre-sliced, making serving super easy for me.  I added a few sides; mac and cheese, sweet potatoes and green bean casserole.  Since my friend offered to bring dessert, I didn't order one, but let me tell you, the cheesecake sampler is divine!  I also was able to order Hawaiian Rolls and a delicious multi-grain bread.

Everything was so simple, just heat, serve and enjoy!  The only effort I had to make was to clean my house before my guests arrived.  And once they arrived, I got to spend more time with the guest than slaving away in the kitchen!

Naturally, the ham, with its glazing, was delicious!

We loved the green bean casserole.  It tastes different from the traditional one my family makes, but is very good!

The kids weren't the only ones to gobble up the mac and cheese!

The sweet potato casserole was the best I have ever had--and I think everyone agreed!

Spending time with the guests instead of the kitchen was fun--especially with three giggly girls!
Who wouldn't want to spend more time with these girls than in the kitchen?

HoneyBaked Ham meal made everything so simple that I even got the table cloth out and some decorations!

Before you go, don't forget to print these awesome coupons for great savings*.
  • $5 off Any Size Half/Whole Ham 
  • $3 off Any Size Quarter Ham
  • $2 off Sliced and Glazed Whole Turkey
  • $1 off Any 2 Frozen Sides
  • $3 off 3 Frozen Sides
*Offers valid only at:Participating Retail Locations: Forestville, Silver Spring, Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fields Ertel, Beechmont, Kenwood, Colerain, Florence, Salem, Centerville, Sawmill Road, McNaughten, Louisville, Lexington, Fern Creek, Glendale, Paradise Valley, Superstition, Tolleson, Chandler, Tucson East, Tucson North, Overland Park, Independence, Barry Road, Norristown, Parma, Willoughby, Rocky River, Strongsville, Maple Heights, Canton, Fairlawn, Chapel Hill and Boardman.

And get this, HoneyBaked Ham is hosting a giveaway for 20 people to win a $50 gift card!  Enter using the easy Rafflecopter giveaway below.

Disclosure: I received a HoneyBaked gift card to try out products to facilitate this review.

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