Monday, December 16, 2013

Rainbow Braid Rubber Bands - 5400 piece Massive Loom Refill Set!

Over the past several months I've heard a lot of chatter about the Rainbow Loom.  My first encounter was a bracelet given to my daughter by my brother who stopped at what he thought was a lemonade stand on the side of the road... where they were actually selling sweet little rubber band bracelets!  I quickly realized that this is the new "thing"!  My 3 year old is a little bit young to finagle little rubber bands and bracelet kits on her own so we didn't have one and weren't following the trend at all until I got an email from my new friends over at Paper & Twine who asked me to review some Liquid Chalkers last month.  This time, they were wondering if I'd be interested in reviewing their Rainbow Braid Rubber Bands - 5400pc Massive Loom Refill Set!  I think they knew I'd figure out something to do with these things!  So, they were kind and generous enough to send me their refill set as well as a Rainbow Loom so I could try my hand at these sweet little bracelets and give you my thoughts!

I'd say this is pretty good for my first try!  (I think... but if you notice I'm doing it wrong, please tell me so I'm not totally humiliated on the internet!)

The colors in this refill set are great.  There are 18 different color bands, including regular, sparkly, and even glow in the dark.  I just closed myself in a closet with the bracelet I made and sure enough, the glow in the dark ones do glow!

Prior to receiving my bands in the mail, I received an email with some additional info and pointers on using the bands.  They offer a 100% guarantee policy and some of the things they want their customers to notice about their product is that the bands are not smelly, they are strong and sturdy, latex free rubber, and they are made by hand.  I have no prior experience with any brand loom bands, but my experience with these are that they have no scent and none of the ones I used broke.

The refill pack comes with 300 bands and 250 clips.  There are 18 different colors:
Solid/Neons (Red, Purple, Turquoise, Light Blue, Dark Blue)
Fluorescents (Yellow, Green, Blue, Pink, Orange, Purple)
Glitters (Pink, Blue, Purple, Orange, Green)
Bolds (Black, White)

I am now on a mission to find lots of fun, crafty, projects in which I can use little rubber bands!  I know I can make the bracelets but I guarantee there are tons of other things I can figure out, so stay tuned.  I didn't want to delay in getting this review out to you though so you can finish your holiday shopping!

You can order Rainbow Braid Rubber Bands - 5400pc Massive Loom Refill Set on amazon here.  You might want to consider a free trial of amazon prime, which you can sign up for here, so you can get these with free shipping in two days!  You can always cancel the trial later if you don't wish to keep taking advantage all it has to offer.

Special thanks to Paper & Twine and Rainbow Braid for the fun opportunity to try and review these products!

Order yours today!!

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  I did not receive compensation for this review, other than a Rainbow Braid Rubber Bands - 5400 piece Massive Loom Refill Set and a Rainbow Loom to try and keep.  The opinions expressed are my own.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cash back when you shop online!

Online shopping around the holidays is getting more and more popular.  If I could do all my holiday shopping online from the comfort of my home, I would.  Well, maybe I'd save one thing to get in the store because there is something special about the "holiday spirit" at the mall, but I certainly don't like to make a habit of fighting crowds at this time of year, particularly in the parking lots!  One of my favorite perks to shopping online is FREE CASH BACK!  Even when I'm making a small purchase, I like to do it online and pick up in the store if I can, just for the little bit I might get back.

Ebates is my favorite site for earning cash back on my online purchases.  Read on for all the ins and outs on how it works.

If you haven't signed up yet, this is the time to do it because there are a few great promotions they are running...
  • Get a $10 gift card to Target, Macy's, Kohl's, or Walmart for signing up and making a $25 online purchase.
  • Double cash back at many retailers.
  • Get a $50 bonus when you refer 2 friends!

This is totally legit and there are no strings attached.  All you do is go to the Ebates website, type in your retailer, click the link, do your shopping as you normally would, and make a percentage back.  It's a win, win!

Ebates is a website that connects you with the website of the store you want to shop and if you make your purchase through their link, you will get a percentage back.  These percentages fluctuate.  Sometimes it might be 1% or 2%, sometimes there will be a promotion where you will get double cash back, etc.  They also show you any coupon codes available (such as a percentage off or free shipping). You can make your purchase online by connecting to your store through their website and either have the items shipped to you or pick up in the store.  

Ebates works with tons of stores including Sears, Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Amazon, Sephora, JC Penny, Kohl's, Home Depot,, Groupon, Walmart, you name it, so you are sure to find your favorites.  Membership is totally free.  You simply get paid cash back for shopping (by check or paypal).  

There is nothing to lose with this program.  Anytime I am making a purchase I try to remember to check Ebates first to see if the store has an account with them and go through them to earn a little extra back.  We're not talking millions of dollars here (unless you are spending millions of dollars I suppose) but every little bit makes a difference.

Click here to sign up for Ebates today!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Well, this picture is the best I got last year but
I'm unimpressed!  Here's to hoping I won't forget
to take a better one next week!
My husband and I have cooked and hosted Thanksgiving Dinner every year since we married.  Our conversation at the dinner table last night confirmed, not at all surprisingly, that he agrees with me that we should continue to do this for as long as we possibly can.  One Thanksgiving I received a compliment that I'll never forget... it was that I seemed so calm and was never stressed out while preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  Honestly, I think I sometimes stress about normal daily mealtimes more than I do holiday meals.  We've gotten ourselves into a good groove... we know what to make, when to make it, how to share the space (although I still wish I had a double oven!), and how to enjoy every second in the kitchen.  Thanksgiving Dinner (and Christmas too, since it's identical because we love it so much) is absolutely, positively our favorite meal of the year, and since we find so much joy in it, we figured we should share it with you!

We've toyed around with different side dishes and recipes throughout the years but in the end, this is the final list, and I doubt it will ever change!  I will link to recipes if I have them typed up.  My husband says he will not share the recipe for the turkey but I'll continue to work on that.  I'm realizing that I have a few other recipes to add to the blog to complete the list so stay tuned!


Main Meal:
  • Turkey (the bigger the better, 23.88 pounds this year, a little small for us but the largest they had in the store!)
  • Crockpot Cornbread Dressing
  • Green Bean Casserole (I follow the recipe on the can of fried onions but I use my own cream soup)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Fried Apples
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Biscuits
  • Gravy


  • Apple Cider
  • Apple Cider Sangria
  • Egg Nog
  • Whatever else people prefer

Don't let holiday meals get the best of you... don't let them stress you out!  Let them be filled with love, joy, deliciousness, and memory-making.  It sounds so sappy, but it's so true.  What's on your menu this year?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Make your own broth/stock! (DON'T THROW AWAY YOUR TURKEY CARCASS!)

I just recently purchased a little package of chicken bouillon cubes to make my own broth.  Although it was only 99 cents at Market Basket, it was still a little bit painful because it had been almost a year since I had to buy it!

Last Christmas, after dinner, and after I placed all the leftovers in the fridge, I looked at the carcass of our 26 pound turkey and thought, "There has to be something I can do with this other than throwing it in the trash!"  I went to google, and several hours later, I had almost a one year supply of turkey broth!

Here is all you need to do...

Put your turkey carcass in a large pot, covered with water.  Add any carrots, celery, onions, etc that you have on hand and whatever seasonings you like.  Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for about three hours.  Skim yuckiness off the top periodically.  Basically, when when the bones are bare, it's done.  Remove the bones from the pan and cool the stock in the fridge overnight.  Skim off the top layer of fat that you'll find in the morning and you'll see your stock underneath - the more gelatin-like the better!  I take my cooled stock/broth and filled ice cube trays, and once frozen, I place the cubes in zip lock freezer bags in the freezer.  Last year, they lasted about 6 months in the freezer before they started getting all freezer burn-ish.  I just melt a few as needed for any recipe that calls for broth throughout the year.

PS ~ This stock is perfect for making your own cream soup for recipes!  You can check out that recipe here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Liquid Chalkers!

Recently the creators of Liquid Chalkers sent me an 8 pack of chalk markers to try out and provide my unbiased review!  My thoughts in a nutshell?  LOVE!

We do a lot of arts and crafts around here and any new products we can use to switch things up are super exciting (particularly to my 3 year old).  After receiving our Liquid Chalkers in the mail and carefully reviewing the how-to tips they emailed to me, we got to work.

We first tested surfaces just to confirm that in fact they would wipe off when we were done.  These are best used on non porous surfaces because otherwise the liquid gets sucked right in and doesn't wipe off easily.

We drew on our chest freezer (a huge hit since this sits right in our playroom!) and our windows (another huge hit because we NEVER draw on windows!).  How exciting to have a product that lets you do the things you never get to do!

I created a weekly meal plan ~ right on the fridge!

We were also super excited to use these for my sister's wedding reception with a theme full of chalkboards!

These Liquid Chalkers were a fantastic addition to our crafting supplies.  They are easy to use, can write with both a wide and finer tip, provide vibrant color, and wipe away easily on non porous surfaces.  I do find that after wiping away, a little residue is left over that can be easily wiped away with a hand or cloth (kind of like the residue that is left over when you use an eraser on pencil).  Using these on chalkboard paint is a little tricky because the ability to wipe away easily depends on the surface the paint is on.  Always test a small surface first and invest in a Magic Eraser if needed.  These were the recommendations sent to me by the company and are, from our experience, perfectly accurate.

You can purchase Liquid Chalkers online through the company's website or through amazon.  The company has graciously provided me with a coupon code to share with you for 15% off ~ just enter EXCLUSIVE15 at checkout on their website.  It's good through the end of this month, so place your order today!

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  I did not receive compensation for this review, other than Liquid Chalkers to try and keep.  The opinions expressed are my own.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

What to do with all those green onions!

I like to think of green onions as a "gift that just keeps giving."  One bunch of green onions from the grocery store can give you bunch after bunch if you know what to do with them!  Simply use the onions as you typically would but save the white bulb and root part in a jar with some water and they will regrow!  Again, cut off what you need as you need it, keep giving them fresh water, and repeat!  It's a great way to save money, always have fresh onions, and add some cute decor to your countertops!

Regardless of the fact that I can make one bunch of green onions last for a pretty long time, my husband decided to plant a plethora, yes a PLETHORA, of green onions in our garden this year.  The result?  This project showed up on my to-do list this week!

A few hours of cleaning, separating, and clipping away with scissors gave us this:

We will keep these in the freezer and take out whatever we need for recipes for as long as they last us!  I froze green onions for the first time when I had several regrowing on our windowsill prior to us moving last summer.  I had no easy way to transport the jar so I chopped them up, filled an empty plastic water bottle, threw it in the freezer, and simply shook out whatever I needed whenever I needed it.  It was fantastic.  Sadly I did not have enough water bottles for this year's harvest but I think the zip lock bags will do!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Incredibly Easy Homemade Tortillas

I have had making homemade tortillas on my to-do list for a long, long time.  Someone once told me it was easy but I apparently wasn't convinced enough to try.  We use tortillas a lot around here for sandwiches, quesadillas, and tacos so I'm not sure why it too me so long to brave the task!

Last night my husband was unexpectedly home early for dinner so I wanted to come up with something to make other than leftovers.  I had some ground turkey, shredded cheese, lettuce, homemade salsa, taco seasoning, nacho chips, and ONE tortilla.  Tacos?  My motivation to have tacos was high but my motivation to go to the store was low!  Desperate times call for desperate measures so I took to Pinterest to find a tortilla recipe and chose this one.  It's funny.  Even when the recipe told me it would be easy, I still didn't believe it.  But, I told my 3 year old to get ready to work, grabbed the ingredients (everything I had on hand, and you probably do too), and got started.

Friends, this may have been the EASIEST thing I have ever made!  It was so easy that I kept doing that  whole "apology in advance" and "no promises" thing to my husband.  In the back of my mind I was coming up with back-up plans.  This had to be too good to be true... But it wasn't!  Please hear me when I say that I will never, ever pay a PENNY for tortillas again.  These were easy, delicious, fresh, and cost me nothing.

I love finding new treasures right in my cabinets that I never knew I had.  And I love finding things that I can make myself and add to my "never buy in the store again" list!

Perhaps the best part of this project is that sometimes tasks seem even more daunting when I think about doing them with a 3 year old.  I love having her help me in the kitchen because I know that I'm encouraging really good things in her when I do.  But, I have to be honest and say that some things just are going to be more complicated with little curious, excited, and sometimes reckless hands involved!  This recipe was absolutely perfect for 3 year old hands and it actually was a help to have her!

Anyway, here's how to do it!

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 5 tablespoons shortening
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup very warm tap water

  • Mix flour and salt in medium bowl (you could get away with a medium bowl but I recommend large if you're mixing with a 3 year old!)
  • Add shortening to the bowl and mix together with your hands to work out all the clumps (you'll be done when there are no more large clumps of shortening)
  • Pour in very warm tap water
  • Use a fork to stir until a dough forms
  • Put the dough on the counter and knead until you have a soft dough (the original recipe said 10-15 minutes, we probably did a little less, but this is SO fun for your little one, it's like squishy playdough)
  • Roll the dough into a log and separate into 12 equal pieces
  • Roll the pieces into little balls 
  • Put the little pieces in a zip lock bag in the fridge for 20 minutes - 2 hours
  • After removing from fridge, flatten a ball in your hand and then roll out on a floured surface into a thin round tortilla (flip and turn as you roll to make an even circle, doesn't have to be perfect)
  • Place tortilla in a heated frying pan (medium heat, you will know it's hot enough because it should sizzle a little when it hits the pan)
  • Leave the tortilla in the pan for 30 seconds and then flip (it will bubble a little the first time, but try to push it down flat with a spatula after you turn it over so it cooks through)
  • I had to play around with the heat a little bit to keep from burning, but you'll get into a rhythm after the first or second one 
  • Remove from pan and place in aluminum foil to keep warm


You can find the original recipe here with extra tips and pictures!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Premama Review & Giveaway

Are you in the market for prenatal vitamins but could do without swallowing gigantic horse pills?  If so, keep reading!  Who wouldn't love an alternative option for easily taking in all the nutrients to make you a healthy mommy... while easing some prenatal discomforts along the way?

I was recently asked by the team at MomSelect to review Premama Prenatal Vitamin Mix and was provided a 30 day sample for my honest review.  I was so excited!  I never would have thought to try something like this on my own, but after the first day, I was sold!

Premama Prenatal Vitamin Mixes are packed with all of the vitamins and nutrients suggested for mommies before, during, and after pregnancy to support healthy baby development.  It helps keeps you and baby healthy at the same time that it soothes symptoms like morning sickness and minimizes constipation.

Now, let me tell you the most exciting part about the Premama formulas...  they come in little packets of powder that you simply mix with your favorite non-carbonated cold beverage or soft food and enjoy!  Even oatmeal!  All of you pumping and nursing mommies who are trying to boost that milk supply by eating oatmeal can fill up on your vitamins at the same time!  You can get the powder in either a taste-free or a light citrus flavor alternative.  Premama eliminates the huge pills.  I am sipping some fruit punch as I type and although I can't taste it, I know I'm filling myself with lots of healthy vitamins with each sip!

Premama comes in two varieties, Premama Essentials and Premama Plus and both are sold in 30 day supplies.  You can purchase them through the Premama website, amazon, or in a store near you!  There is also a great feature on the Premama website where if you refer a friend, you will both earn money toward the purchase price... and there is no limit to how much you can earn, so the more friends you refer, the better!  You can also ask your doctor to request a coupon code for additional savings, or subscribe for monthly automatic delivery.  If you'd like to try Premama first, there is an option to request a sample as well.  All of the details are on the website.

MomSelect and Premama have provided me with the opportunity to offer a giveaway of a 30 day supply of Premama for one of my readers!  You can enter the giveaway below.  A winner will be announced one week from today on Monday, October 21.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to review this product and share it with you through both the review and the givewaway!  Thanks MomSelect and Premama!

If you'd like more ways to connect with Premama, check out their social media links below!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pampered Chef Creative Cutters Set - a Yumbox must-have!

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am a HUGE Yumbox fan.  I am also a HUGE Pampered Chef fan.  Most importantly, I am a HUGE fan of the Pampered Chef Creative Cutters Set for making my Yumbox sandwiches!

These little cookie cutter gems are the perfect size for the little sandwich pieces you can fit into your Yumbox.  They are stainless steel and strong enough to very cleanly cut through your sandwiches and they come in a variety of shapes so you can switch things up as you wish!

My daughter is a huge "pb & j star and heart" fan but we've branched out to "pb & j apples, leaves, and pumpkins" this fall.

We have a lot of different cookie cutters at our house but these ones are my far the best quality.  They are small, clean up super easily in either the dishwasher or by hand, and DO NOT RUST!  I use these daily, if not multiple times daily, and they are still as good as new.

If you are looking for a solution for small sandwiches (or cookies, fruits, cheese, etc), I highly recommend this set!

If you'd like to order some for yourself, I'd love it if you'd use this link to the online party I'm currently hosting, but certainly don't feel obligated to do so.  You can type "Creative Cutters" in the search box on the right.  You can order there through 10/26/13.  There are tons of other fantastic products that you will love and enjoy and wish you'd had for a lifetime.  The turkey roasting pan with a lifetime guarantee is another of my all time favorites!

If you're curious about the Yumbox, you can read my blog post here.  They sometimes sell out quickly because they are so amazing but I think they are up and shipping on amazon right now!


Keep your eyes on the blog in the coming days because I have a couple of very fun reviews to share including a giveaway for new and expecting mommies!  

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How we did all our back to school shopping for about $6!

I finally completed our back-to-school / fall weather shopping this morning... from the comfort of my own home!  I will be honest that as much as I sometimes find grocery shopping "fun", I am not a huge fan of clothing shopping, particularly when it involves chasing a 3 year old around a store!  I love shopping online for clothing because it's just much easier.

I've been planning my online fall clothing shopping for quite some time.  I will be honest that it would be difficult for you to replicate my "deal" without the pre-planning.  However, with that being said, it's never too early to start planning for next fall... or for the holidays... or the next birthday, etc.

Old Navy really is having a great sale on little kid clothes right now so even without the gift cards I used, you can score a really fantastic deal.  I put all of those details below, so keep reading!

Here are some things I did...

Swagbucks is a website that offers lots of ways to earn "swagbucks".  That makes sense right?!  Basically you can earn points or "swagbucks" by doing different things such as searching the internet, printing and redeeming coupons, entering bonus codes they post on facebook, signing up for offers, referring friends, watching advertisements, playing games, etc.  There are tons of ways to earn but I will be honest and say the only way I earn is through internet searches, printing and redeeming coupons, and entering bonus codes.  Just by searching for something through their search engine you have the chance to earn any number of swagbucks... it's totally random.  You can read more about the details on their website or ask me if you have a question but eventually, when you have enough swagbucks, you can redeem them for things.  Over the course of the last several months I redeemed swagbucks for two $10 Old Navy gift cards in preparation for my fall shopping.  You can sign up for swagbucks here.

Mypoints is a website similar to swagbucks.  It works along the same general premise although I don't believe they do internet searches.  I think you can complete surveys, invite friends, etc.  I earn all of my points on this site through BzzAgent.  You can read more about BzzAgent here, but in short, they are a company that sends me free stuff to try and all they ask is that I talk to other people about the product.  There are no strings attached except that they ask me to report back on my conversations (super easy) or post pictures of enjoying the product, etc.  Let me know if you'd like me to send you an invite or you can sign up through their website here.  For each task I complete they award me with points on Mypoints.  I redeemed those points for a $25 Old Navy gift card.  You can sign up for Mypoints here.

So far, that's $45 in completely free money.  FREE MONEY!  

I ordered 3 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, 1 sweatshirt, and 1 pair of pajamas from Old Navy online.  I took advantage of their 30% off sale, a 20% off coupon code they emailed me today (thank goodness I waited until the last day because yesterday it was only 15%!!), free shipping for spending $50 before the coupons, $45 in gift cards I earned totally free, and paid $6.52 out of pocket.  I will get 2% back through Ebates which isn't a lot but every little bit counts.  You should not ever shop online without using Ebates because again, free money, is free money... take advantage of it!  You can read about Ebates here.

Even if you don't have any swagbucks or mypoints saved up, Old Navy is really having a great sale on little kiddo clothing right now - 30% off everything and then 20% off everything with coupon code ONEXTRA20.  Today is the last day of the sale and coupon so shop now!  And remember, 2% back through Ebates!

Please don't ever believe that paying full price is the only way... there are so many ways to save!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

FYI - I love my countertop compost pail!

Do you compost your leftover table scraps?  My husband got us into composting a couple of years ago.    We purchased a large outdoor compost bin where we could dump all of our vegetable and fruit scraps, leaves, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, egg cartons, chicken poop, etc.  When the composting process was complete, we had free potting soil which grew us some gigantic sunflowers (among other things, but the sunflowers really were huge)!  In a nutshell, when you put all of your scraps in the compost bin, it decomposes, mixes all together, and comes out as a nutrient filled fertilizer.  It reduces waste in a sanitary way and gives back to the environment as the cycle of healthy soil creation goes on and on and on!  You can do a google search and read a million articles on the ins and outs of composting and its benefits.  I didn't take a whole lot of time researching it, I just followed along and collected in a bowl on the counter everything that my husband told me was compostable and he would dump it in the bin.  

I quickly realized a problem however... we started to get fruit flies all over the kitchen if we didn't dump it right away!  I tried storing in a plastic bag instead but the problem persisted.  I tried a concoction of apple cider vinegar and dish soap as a fruit fly trap and I thought this solved my problem.  (It really is a good home remedy... watch for a blog post on that!)

But then... we were given a gift of a countertop compost pail.  I never knew such a thing existed!  But I have now realized that EVERYone should know this exists!  I use it and love it every day and it occurred to me that I should share my love so others don't miss out!  This little gem sits right on the counter and when I peel a cucumber (fresh from our compost fortified garden!) I dump the peel right in there.  Again, google will give you lists of what can and cannot be composted.  But basically, all of our waste that is compostable goes into that bin where it starts its decomposition while it waits for my husband to bring it outside to the big bin... without smelling up my kitchen or attracting fruit flies!  This has been such a great addition to our kitchen.  I would recommend it to anyone!

I'm not sure where the pail we have was purchased, but it can be found on amazon (link below).  I was surprised to see some poor reviews on there!  We haven't had any issues with rust or bad odors (unless you leave the cover off... but I would expect this given that it's storing decomposing materials).  But I saw lots of other compost bins on there as well if you don't want to take your chances on this one.

If you're looking to add some "green" to your living, save on next years gardening supplies, or avoid fruit flies, don't delay!  This is a great product!


Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Homemade Salsa - SO EASY!!

So here's the thing.  I love making things from scratch.  Or maybe it's safer to say I love serving and eating things I've made from scratch.  But the reality is that it's usually easier to buy things (like salsa) at the store!  The problem with that however is that I am sometimes too cheap to buy it!  I went to five stores today - YES five stores - all which sell salsa.  Target.  Market Basket.  Stop & Shop.  Shaws.  CVS.  In that order.  But I did not buy salsa because it wasn't on sale and I didn't have a coupon.  My poor family!  Thankfully my husband gave me encouraging words before he left for work this morning, telling me that he believed I could make salsa from a can of diced tomatoes.  And... I did it!  And... it was SO EASY!  EASIER (and cheaper) THAN GOING TO THE STORE!  In fact, this salsa was totally free because I had absolutely everything I needed right in my kitchen.  If you have some of this stuff in your garden, that's even better!  Here it is, my friends.  Make your family some salsa tonight!

I got my inspiration from the recipe I found here, and tweaked it to fit what I had since I was not about to go to the store or spend any money on this!

FYI: I will never spend money on salsa at the store again!

  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 10 ounce can of diced tomatoes & green chilies
  • small onion, chopped
  • clove garlic, pressed
  • jalapeno slices (I don't know how many I used... I found them in the fridge and put maybe 8-ish slices in?)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cilantro (if you don't think you have any, see if you have any of those McCormick Recipe Inspirations Garlic Lime Chicken Fajita thingies in your stockpile - it was in there!)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (I would have used lime but didn't realize I had it until after the fact)

  • Put all of the ingredients in a blender (or food processor) and pulse until combined (about 30 seconds or less depending on how you like it)

Let me know how it turns out for you!

Thanks, Mountain Mama Cooks for sharing your recipe!

Monday, August 19, 2013


I wrote an earlier post about my new love of bento style lunch boxes but at that point I was still on a quest for the best one for our family.  My search has ended!  After much research I decided to try the Yumbox for our three year old's preschool lunches and I (and she) could not be happier!  I posted about my experiences to my friends on facebook and was shocked to see how many other Mommy's needed some mealtime solutions.  If you are struggling with mealtimes, please give this a try.  It's a gem that I will never regret purchasing and I don't think you would either!

Here are some things I love about the Yumbox... (I'm sure I'll forget something so I may have to come back and update as I remember more... there is just so much!)
  • It is leakproof!  This means that I can continue to pack strawberries without juice spilling into the lunchbox.  I can pack yogurt and ranch dressing right next to sandwiches and chips with no leakage whatsoever!  Does it get any better than that?
  • It is compartmentalized.  I can stay organized as I pack and my daughter can look at an organized lunchbox with several healthy options, all in one place for her to choose to eat as she wishes.
  • It is labeled.  This helps me be sure that I'm packing a healthy and balanced meal.  I will admit that we cheat in the vegetable department because my daughter is not interested in bringing veggies for lunch but would love extra dairy and I'm fine with that at this point.
  • Leftovers stay fresh in the fridge.  When my daughter doesn't finish her lunch, she likes to keep it in the fridge and come back for another snack later.  With the Yumbox filled with healthy snacks, I don't have to worry about what she chooses at lunchtime or later because I know that the only choices she has are good ones.
  • It has a removable tray for easy cleaning and can be used as a dinner plate or lunch plate for non-school days.
  • It is easy to open and close.  My three year old can do it without assistance.

  • It is compact and fits in our LL Bean lunchbox with room to spare!  This was not true of the last bento box we tried.

I just love love love the Yumbox.  My anxiety about packing lunches has significantly decreased and I feel so good about packing this up and sending it to school.  I have fun packing it, and my daughter has fun eating it.  If you have a picky eater, anxiety about lunch packing, or just want a fresh start and something fun and special, the Yumbox is for you!

You can order Yumbox directly from the company's website or through amazon.  They are new and tend to sell out quickly so if you are interested, I would order ASAP!  You can follow Yumbox on facebook or Pinterest for some lunch packing ideas as well.  The Yumbox is currently available in pink and green.


Several people have asked me about the little food picks - they just add a little more fun our meals!  They are inexpensive and adorable.  Some are very small so I am picky about which ones I use until our daughter is a little older.  I got ours on amazon.

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Yumbox didn't ask me to write this review, I just wanted you to know about how great this product is!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review of The Berenstain Bears: Golden Brother Edition and Golden Sister Edition gift sets

This is a repost from my review on HTSFF... you can find the original review here.

I was super excited when kaboom! Entertainment asked us over on the How to Shop for Free blog to do this Berenstain Bears review!  On May 21, 2013, they released two limited edition DVD sets and sent us a copy of each to watch, play with, and review.

When I was younger I had tons of Berenstain Bears books and sadly, I think we must have gotten rid of them somewhere as the years went, by but my almost-3-year-old daughter has recently developed a love for the Berenstain Bears herself having seen their shows on TV.

You should have seen the look on her face when we opened the big box that arrived from kaboom! and she was able to see what was inside!  Actually... I'll let you see it!

There really are no words... in fact, I'm not sure any review of these products I might write would communicate quite what that picture does!

As you can see from the pictures, there are two sets available, The Berenstain Bears: Golden Brother Edition and Golden Sister Edition.  Each comes with a 120 minute DVD and a 10-inch soft cuddly Berenstain Bear plush.  Each DVD includes several short stories about the Berenstain Bears family adventures and the lessons they learn along the way.  They are easily applicable to real life and are not only entertaining but full of healthy values.  Young children are sponges - they soak in whatever they are exposed to.  I have no worries about my daughter being exposed to what is included in these DVDs!

We have really enjoyed these sets!  Although my daughter does not typically watch the entire 120 minutes in one sitting, this is definitely her go-to television viewing right now and she'll watch a few stories and come back for more later.  She sings along with the catchy songs and has been heard saying on more than one occasion in real life situations, "just like on the Berenstain Bears movie!"

If you are looking for a new DVD for your little ones or are in the market for a great gift for someone else, you should definitely check these out.  These limited edition sets are $19.99 and available exclusively at Walmart and Sam's Club stores.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

PB&J Pinwheels

Today I came across a fantastic tutorial for totally fancying up our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!  You should check out the original source for sure, but basically you use two pieces of bread, cut off the crust, flatten, spread, roll, and cut.  It was so easy, and was a big hit!

I've recently become kind of intrigued (or maybe obsessed) with the idea of bento lunches.  Are you familiar with them?  Basically, in a nutshell, we're shooting for a balanced and creative mealtime that is pleasing to the eye and the belly.  We're also cutting down on waste and not having to use plastic baggies, etc, so we're doing our part to be kind to both the environment and the budget.

I've blogged before about how easy it is to add some fun to ordinary mealtimes and this is a lot of what bento lunches are about.  We already do a lot of cookie cutter sandwiches and creatively cut fruit around here... it's way more exciting!  Our daughter has been stuck on peanut butter and jelly "star, moon, and duck" for a while now and she doesn't seem to be getting bored of it, but I will be honest and say that I have been in need of something different.

This week we started preschool and after a lot of researching ways to creatively, efficiently, and frugally pack lunch, this is what we sent in for the first day of school.  Of course, we had a PB&J star, moon, and duck...

I can't wait to pack tomorrow's lunch with pinwheels!

Do you bento?  Do tell!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

FREE Admission to The Discovery Museums this Friday night!

On the first friday of every month the Discovery Museums in Acton offer FREE admission from 4:30 - 8:30 PM!  This Friday, June 7, is the first Friday of this month so if you are looking for something to do, you may want to check it out!

I've posted about this before.  Our family LOVES the Discovery Museums.  There is a Children's Museum and a Science Museum.  They are much smaller than the big city museums, much more hands on, and don't require traveling in and out of the city!  We love these museums so much that we actually purchased a year long membership that gets us into those museums for free any time and gives us free admission or discounts at many other children's museums around the state, country, and world!

I HIGHLY recommend a visit to the museums, or at the very least to their website or facebook page where you can check out all that they have to offer.  And if you want to visit it for FREE, this Friday would be the time to do it!

From their website:
Join us with free admission and explore the museums at night on the first Friday of every month! We will gratefully accept donations for the Acton Food Pantry. Sponsored in part by Emerson Hospital with additional support from Alexander, Aronson, Finning and Company, P.C. and the Local Cultural Councils of Acton-Boxborough, Billerica, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Harvard, Hudson, Leominster, Lexington, Littleton, Maynard, Waltham, Wayland, and Westford.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Frozen Yogurt Dots

My refrigerator is bursting with free yogurt so I'm always looking for and finding creative ways to use up my yogurt surplus!

Here's one idea:

Just cover a baking sheet with yogurt dots and throw them in the freezer.  Once frozen, enjoy!  It doesn't get any easier than that!

These will make the perfect treat for this hot day!

If your fridge isn't full of yogurt, you must not shop at Shaws.  Koru Creamery Style Yoghurt is regularly priced $1.50 there but it's on sale for $1.00 right now and there's a $1/1 coupon in SS 5/5 that makes it free.  There was also a printable .75/1 that doubled but it doesn't look like it's still available.  I will update if I see it pop back up!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Shaving Cream Bathtub Paints

We made these super duper, super fun, super easy, and super clean paints today in an attempt to beat the rainy day blues and it worked!  In fact, my 2 1/2 year old spent an hour and a half in the tub painting the tub, the walls, her toys, her body, and then cleaning everything up with washcloths and sponges.  It was the perfect rainy day activity!

You probably won't believe this, but I did not have any shaving cream in the house, only shaving gel which according to every google search I did would not work.  But, desperate times call for desperate measures and I was determined to make it work.  A good stir turned my shaving gel into nice foamy shaving cream in no time.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Shaving Cream
  • Food Coloring
  • Tongue depressors, fingers, or whatever you want to use for painting

Here's what you'll do:
  • Stir shaving cream together with a couple of drops of food coloring
  • Paint, paint, paint
  • Clean up with a wet cloth or sponge
  • If you use shaving gel instead of cream just give it a good stir first to get it foamy.  Mine even had a blue tint and it still mixed up nicely with the food coloring.

So easy, so fun, and no stains on my tub or child!

I found my inspiration for this project here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Milk Jug Bird Feeders

Daddy gets all the credit for this recent outdoor project... I just provided some art supplies and took some pictures!

This was an easy and fun craft that was easy to put together with things we had around the house.

If you don't have a milk jug and need one, let me know!  With as much milk as we go through we could make one of these every few days and feed all the birds in the world right in our own backyard!

Here's what you'll need:
  • empty, rinsed out, milk jug
  • string for hanging
  • scissors or sharp tool for cutting holes
  • markers (these BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers I got free from smiley360 were perfect!)
  • whatever decorations you have and want to use
  • 2 sticks
  • birdseed

Here's what you'll do:
grown up jobs:
  • cut 2 small holes at the top of the jug for hanging
  • cut 4 small holes, one in each of the jug sides, to insert sticks for perches
  • cut holes in sides, large enough for birds to come in for a snack
kid jobs:
  • decorate, decorate, decorate 
together jobs:
  • insert sticks into holes
  • attach string for hanging
  • fill with birdseed
  • hang from a tree (we used a broken hanger)

I may have missed some steps to this since I wasn't the one to do the project but just follow the pictures and you'll be fine!

The birds (and squirrels...) love this feeder and we love watching them!  My wakeup call the day after this project was a 2 1/2 year old running into my bedroom at 6:00 AM to inform me that there were birds at her new bird feeder (which hangs on a tree branch right outside her window).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Free fruit for kids at Shaw's

We are big fans of the Shaw's Healthy Eaters program!  I think if my 2 1/2 year old could type, she would probably write up this blog post herself.  Every time we visit Shaw's she is able to pick a banana or apple for herself and pay for it (get it for free) with this coupon.  Not only does this reinforce her love of fresh fruit but also gives her something to look forward to on every shopping trip.  And yes, I am proud, when she asks if she can pay for her own food with a coupon!  If you haven't picked up one of these cards from your store, you should!

Also thanks to Shaws in Burlington, MA for always having stickers at checkout!  My daughter has started asking at the register (loud enough for us all to hear), "Mommy, do you think they have any stickers here?"  She says she is "too nervous" to ask directly, but we appreciate the sweet generosity just the same!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shredded BBQ Chicken in the Crock Pot

I typically use my crock pot more in the fall and winter than in the spring or summer but honestly, on a beautiful day, who wants to be inside cooking when they could be outside playing?  Yesterday I threw together a super easy crock pot dinner definitely suitable for warmer weather.  I got my inspiration here but was a little lazy and didn't add the extras... it still turned out delicious!

  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds frozen boneless chicken breasts (If yours are thawed, just decrease the cooking time, similar to the original recipe found here.  I used 1.8 pounds frozen.)
  • 1 bottle barbecue sauce (I used 18 oz Bull's-Eye Original)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chicken/turkey broth (I used two frozen cubes, see below)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

  • Place sliced onions in bottom of crock pot
  • Place frozen chicken on top
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Cover with barbecue sauce
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours (chicken should cook to 170 degrees)
  • Remove chicken from crock pot
  • Mix 2 tbsp chicken broth with 2 tbsp corn starch until dissolved
  • Add to crock pot, stir, and heat on high for 10 minutes to thicken up the sauce
  • Shred chicken with fork, stir it back into crock pot and continue cooking on low for 45 minutes
  • We served ours on buns with coleslaw on top and potato salad on the side!

A couple of other things to note:  
  • There are lots of recipes out there for homemade barbecue sauces you could use for this but I went the easy route and just dumped in what we had.  I'm not sure it matters a whole lot but I can definitely tell you from experience that KC Masterpiece does NOT cook up well in a crock pot.  The Bull's-Eye tasted just fine.
  • I keep frozen cubes of turkey broth in the freezer and used two in this recipe.  The next time you cook up a chicken or turkey, boil the carcass and save the broth!  You can freeze it in ice cube trays and store the frozen cubes in a zip lock bag in your freezer.  This is a huge time and money saver!  I still have tons left over from our Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BBQ Pork Burgers

I opened the freezer yesterday looking for something to make for dinner and realized that we have an overabundance of ground pork!  Ground pork always seems to be marked down at our local grocery store so we often pick up a pack or two, which is great, however we don't use it often because I really don't know what to do with it!  We've used it in chili, we've made meatballs, but other than that I've been at a loss.

I did some internet searching yesterday and found a Barbecue Pork Burger recipe from Martha Stewart that I was interested in trying.  I had some potatoes to use up for a potato salad and some cole slaw mix to use as well so a cookout type meal sounded perfect.  I was a little bit anxious about using pork in a burger though... I knew it wouldn't taste like the real thing (beef burgers) and didn't really know if we would like it or not but with so much pork to play around with I figured it was worth a try.

We were not disappointed!  In fact, I will add this recipe to my rotation and make it again, even if I have ground beef in the house!  These were so flavorful, moist, and delicious.  We served them on wheat bread.  I covered mine with cole slaw and my husband covered his in barbecue sauce.  We had potato salad and cole slaw on the side.  It was a quick, easy, yummy dinner, and perfect for warm weather!

I used the George Foreman grill because I am totally not brave enough to use a real grill.  That is definitely my husband's job!  But you could cook yours either way.

You can view the original recipe here.
Here's what I did...

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork (I think mine was just a little over a pound but close enough)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • Heat George Foreman Grill (I sprayed it with cooking spray first)
  • Gently mix all ingredients in a bowl to combine (Martha suggests you don't overwork meat or it will make the burgers too dense) (I used my hands)
  • Form meat into 4 equal sized patties, 4 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick
  • Grill for a few minutes on each side until cooked through (my meat thermometer says pork needs to be 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for well done)
  • Serve 'em up as you like!  

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Money-Making Shopping (and/or Watching TV) Apps!

Whether you're a couponer or not, you still shop.  Whether shopping for groceries, clothes, books, or whatever, you're spending money.  Wouldn't it be nice to make a little money in the process?  Even if you don't feel like you have the time to clip coupons to save the money in advance, you can still get a little back in the end... very easily!  Basically, these apps are offering you FREE MONEY.  That's not something you want to pass up.

Here are some of my favorite websites/apps for making a little money while you spend.

This is my absolute favorite money making app right now.  Over the course of the last several weeks I've gotten close to $15 back from purchases I've made.  I've gotten 100% back on coffee, 50% back on pull-ups, 10% back on any brand crackers, 10% back on any brand ice cream.  All I had to do was make the purchases, upload pictures of my receipts, wait a couple of days for them to process, and pick my payout method.  You can get paid via paypal or check.  You also get points for every receipt you upload, even if it's not one you get money for and those points can be redeemed for charitable donations.  They post new offers weekly (on Thursdays) and not everyone gets the same thing.  They sometimes offer you a higher percentage back on offers that you are willing to share with your friends on facebook.  For instance, if you go to my facebook page today, you'll see that today I shared an offer for 100% back on any brand coffee, up to $3 (weirdly, the picture is of a cat).  You can claim that and it will get added to your account.  100% back!  See what I mean by free money?!  And free coffee?!  You also get bonuses for referring your friends to Endorse.  So if you sign up through my link, I get credit, and if your friends sign up through your link you get credit!  You can sign up for Endorse here.  If you feel totally overwhelmed with the options out there and want to pick one to start, I would choose Endorse.

With Ibotta, there are little tasks you complete in order to get money back for purchasing items.  For instance you might earn 25 cents for watching a little video, another 25 cents for taking a poll, and another 25 cents for sharing the offer on facebook.  After you purchase the item you'll upload a picture of your receipt and scan the product's barcode to confirm your purchase.  You can get your payouts via paypal or school donation.  Like Endorse, one of the payout options is paypal but you have to have a balance of $5 to cash out with paypal whereas Endorse does not have a minimum cash out balance.  Also, similarly to Endorse, they offer referral bonuses.  You can sign up for Ibotta here.

I've gotten some really great payouts from Savingstar.  You have to accrue $5 in your account before you get paid out but some of the offers give you $5 (for instance if you spend $20 on french fries you get $5 back) so it can add up quickly.  With this program, you just register all of your store cards and when you make the purchase in the store, using your card, it automatically registers in the Savingstar system.  No receipts to upload!  I typically activate ever offer they have just in case I end up buying something unexpectedly.  You can sign up for Savingstar here.

Sadly I always forget to use this app!  With this one you just check in when you're actually at a specific store and you earn "kicks" for shopping, scanning items, making purchases, etc.  You also may get offered special discounts or coupons while you're actually in the store.  You can redeem your "kicks" for giftcards and that sort of thing.  You can sign up for Shopkick here.

Now, if you really don't shop, you can also just stay home and earn rewards for watching TV... NO JOKE!  Check out the Viggle app here.  I'm a big fan of this one as well!

Also, keep in mind that many stores have rewards cards that often offer you special discounts and sometimes even coupons you can load to your card from their website.  All you do is scan your card at the store and your coupons come right off your order!  Look closely at what your stores have to offer!

And if you're making online purchases, of course, always use Ebates.  I have a blog post on that here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Strong (at Shaws)

This past week was a difficult one.  I'm sure you can imagine the smiles that came to our faces when we walked into our local grocery store and found the store director up on a ladder hanging a huge American flag in the entry way with the help of two store employees!

Mike Garbino, Wayne Bryant (store director), Dwight Ramsdell

Thanks Shaws in Burlington, MA for helping us stay BOSTON STRONG!

This is my absolute favorite store to shop at.  The employees go above and beyond every single day.  They are cheerful, helpful, and overall just great.  They deserved a shout out anyway, but this was the icing on the cake.  If you are local and don't already shop at Shaws in Burlington, you should start!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...