Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Website Wednesday: NorthPole- Visit Santa's Workshop

  With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share a site that my family really loves:

NorthPole is such a fun site. Kids can write a letter to Santa, then check back later for Santa's personalized response. There are recipes, stories, games and many other fun things to do!

Fun For Kids:

Activities For Parents:

Teachers and Students:


    You and your kids could spend hours exploring all of the fun things to do at The North Pole! I know my family does!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Website Wednesday: Support Small Businesses!

    As the holidays are quickly approaching, I thought it would be nice to promote small businesses, home businesses and friends businesses. We will all be doing a ton of shopping over the next weeks, and I feel that it is important to forgo the big, multi-billion dollar corporate stores as much as we can, and support our local Mom & Pop shops... while they are still here. So many small businesses have been forced to shut down since the economy took a dive. It's been hard on everyone. It's been especially hard on smaller, locally owned stores and restaurants. It is so easy to run to Walmart and get a bunch of cheap junk... I know... I do this often. Too often. It's even easier to pop into McDonalds for a quick bite from the value menu. Given the choice, though, wouldn't it be nice to support the local sandwich shop (no, not Subway), or the independently owned used book store in town? It is so sad to see so many of these small, loved stores hang up their closed signs for good. I don't know about you, but these "cookie cutter" mini-malls are really getting on my nerves. I miss the small town feel and the warm hospitality of the small businesses. It is such a shame to see them dwindling away.

    I also like to support the small internet shops. Have you visited Etsy lately? There are some seriously talented people out there who make beautiful things that would make wonderful gifts.
Do you have an Etsy store or a web-based business? Do you have a friend who sells online? I would love for you to share the sites here! Together, we can help build and promote these small businesses.

    Here are some of my favorites:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Review: Tillamook Cheese

    I love cheese. It's got to be one of my favorite food groups! What? It isn't it's own group? Well it SHOULD be! My family can go through a 2lb loaf in less than a week!

    My favorite brand of cheese is Tillamook. When I saw that they came out with a "new flavor" of their Monterey Jack Cheese, I was a bit worried. I mean, if it isn't broke, then don't fix it, right? Of course we bought it anyway, I mean, let's not get drastic here. I tasted it and it was GREAT! Just when you think something couldn't get better, somehow Tillamook made it happen! The cheese has a wonderful, creamy texture and the flavor is better than ever. I challenge you to put it up against any other Monterey Jack cheese and see for yourself! (I would do it myself, but I just don't want to waste the money buying the other stuff! I've been down that road and I KNOW Tillamook is better!)

    Even my eggs were happy that they were going to get some Tillamook Monterey Jack Cheese added to them!
This happened totally by accident, & I HAD to take a pic!
Oh, and don't limit yourself to just the Monterey cheese! Try Tillamook's other varieties, too! I Love the Medium Cheddar, and the Extra Sharp Aged Cheddar, too.
Check out their varieties and try them!

Overall Rating: ¢¢¢¢¢

Friday, November 11, 2011

Frugal Friday: Leftovers- Part 4

    Today for our Frugal Friday Leftovers Series, I would like to share with you some of my ideas for yummy uses for leftover ham. I love ham, because it goes great with something for every meal. Ham & eggs at breakfast, ham sandwiches at lunch, and a variety of yummy ham dinners. We sometimes buy a large "loaf" of cooked ham from the deli department, just so that we have some on hand.
Now, let's ask ourselves:

What Can I make With Leftover Ham?

  • Flavor up your Potato Soup. Add cubes of ham to your potato soup for a burst of flavor.
  • Ham and Grilled Cheese. Add a slice or two of ham to your grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Fried Rice. Add some ham to your vegetable fried rice, to make it a complete lunch.
  • Scalloped Potatoes. Add chunks of ham to your favorite scalloped potato recipe, top with cheese, and bake, for a delicious casserole meal.
  • Ham and Eggs. Fry up some ham alongside your eggs for breakfast.
  • More Ham and Eggs. Add cubes of ham to your omelets, fritatas, quiches, and scrambled eggs.
  • Pizza Topping. Use ham as a topping for a homemade pizza.
  • Breakfast Skillet. Cut up some leftover baked potatoes and cubes of ham. Dice an onion and saute it in oil until tender. Add the potato and ham and some spices of your choice. I like paprika, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Fry everything up together and top with cheese. Serve with salsa or Tabasco sauce, if desired.
  • Make a "Stromboli". Use homemade or store-bought bread dough, and roll or press it out into an 8"x12" rectangle. Layer ham and cheese down the middle. Fold up sides and ends and seal. Place seam side down on a baking sheet,poke holes in the dough (for the yummy cheese to escape) and bake until golden. Slice and serve warm.
  • Make a pot of Beans. Use the ham bone to add awesome flavor to a pot of beans. ***EXTRA TIP*** I like to make extra beans and use those leftovers, as well. You can use them for things like refried beans, use them in soups, make BBQ beans, and use them in chili.
What are some ways that you like to use leftover ham?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thursday Review: Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo Soothers

    I have four daughters. If you have daughters with long hair, then I am sure you are familiar with "the battle". You know the one I am talking about... brushing out the tangles after their hair has been washed. If that sounds familiar to you, I recommend you try Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo Smoothers.

    Don't just take it from me... here is what my 6 year old daughter has to say about it:

    " It really hurts when my mom brushes my hair. It hurts because I get lots of tangles in it. When we used the new shampoo, it got all of the tangles out. It didn't hurt at all. I like the Smurfs Cowabunga Coconut the best because it gets out the big tangles that really hurt. I like the smell too, because it smells like coconuts."

    My 4 year old just told me that she wants to say something about the Strawberry scented one:

    "It has Dora, and that is my favorite movie and the color of that (points to the lid) is green and that (points to the bottle) is pink. It smells great because it is the strawberry kind. I like it because it gets tangles out."

    There you have it! I couldn't have said it better myself!
I love that it takes the battle out of brushing out their hair after bath time. It leaves their hair soft and shiny, too. At just under $2 at Walmart for a 22.5 oz bottle, Suave Kids 2-in1 Shampoo Smoothers is a great value!

Overall Rating: ¢¢¢¢¢

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Website Wednesday: DMC Jewelry- Plus Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner in our DMC Jewelry Giveaway!!!!!

Congratulations goes out to... Pamela Porras!!!
Please give us your contact information within 7 days so that we can get these beautiful earrings to you!
(View the Rafflecopter results here.)

Thank you to all who entered and a very special thank you to DMC Jewelry!

If you haven't yet visited DMC Jewelry, I encourage you to do so! Just check out all of the affordable, and beautifully handcrafted jewelry that DMC Jewelry has to offer. And please remember DMC jewelry when you are doing your holiday shopping! Want to give Mom a bracelet with the birthstones of her children? Do you need the perfect pair of earrings to match the dress you bought for your holiday party? Is there a special necklace you would like to buy for your sister? Dee will work with you to make that perfect custom made piece! She uses the highest quality, genuine,  gemstones, pearls, and Swarovski crystals. Her metals are beautiful sterling silver and vermeil.
Don't forget! DMC Jewelry offers FREE shipping on all earrings!!!

Please show some love and visit DMC Jewelry. Be sure to tell your friends to visit, too!

Tuesday Review: Little Caesar's Hot-N-Ready Pizza


 What's better than pizza? Inexpensive, Hot-N-Ready, yummy pizza! That's right! At Little Caesars, there is no wait! You can get a 14 inch Hot-N-Ready pizza for at Little Caesars for just $5 each! And it's YUMMY!

    I was a bit skeptical at first, because really, who wants pizza that has been sitting around? Yuck! Well, Hot-N-Ready pizzas do not taste like they have been sitting around. The cheese is melty and the pizza is indeed hot. It is nice and convenient too. You don't have to call ahead to order, so it is perfect for that last minute pick-up! Did I mention that it is yummy? It is! The kids love it, too! And while you're there, don't forget to pick up some Crazy Bread! Here's a coupon for a Crazy Combo for $1.99 to get you started!

Good pizza. Good value. Lives up to the Hot-N-Ready promise.
Overall Rating: ¢¢¢¢¢

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday Review: Straight Talk

   Do you like the convenience of a no contract cell phone, but you are unsure which carrier to go through? A few weeks ago, I made my opinion known about Metro PCS. (Click here and here to see why I look negatively on Metro PCS.) After sharing our experiences with them, I thought I would share a service that we ARE happy with- Straight Talk.

    Straight Talk is sold at Walmart stores. Here's what I like about it:

  • Good coverage. Straight Talk uses the Verizon network, so coverage is really good!
  • There is no contract. You are free to stop service any time you wish.
  • There are no hidden costs. A basic plan is $30 a month. With this plan, you get 1,000 nationwide minutes and 1,000 nationwide texts and/or picture messages. You also get 30MB mobile web access. Plus 411 and voicemail at no extra charge. The unlimited plan is only $45 a month and you get just what it says- unlimited calling, texting and mobile web.
  • Activation is easy. You can activate your phone online, or by calling the number on the back of the service card or by going online. It is simple and quick. You can even transfer your number.
  • International calling available. Straight Talk offers international calling cards, starting at $5.
  • Refilling is EASY. When it's time to refill your account, you can simply buy a card from Walmart, or purchase one online or over the phone with a credit/debit card. Or, you can sign up for their automatic refill service. When using a refill card, you can enter the pin right from your mobile phone, go online to enter the pin, or call the phone number on the back of the card to refill your account. Very convenient! And I have to say something about their automated voice thingy- normally I HATE those things. But with Straight Talk, it actually WORKS! It understands what I say and is easy to use. I have never had a problem with it.
  • Reminders. Straight Talk sends you a text message to remind you when you need to refill your account. 
    OK, so there are a LOT of things I like about Straight Talk. To be fair, I have to tell you a couple of things that I'm not as excited about:
  • Variety. ... or lack thereof. They don't offer a big variety of phones and many times it is hard to find the phone that you want in-store. You can order one online, and right now, they are offering free shipping, so that does help. I just like being able to get my phones in-store.
  • Cost of Phones. You don't get great deals on phones like you do with contract providers. You can still get a good deal on a basic, no frills phone, but the nicer phones are expensive.
  • Smart Phone Coverage. Looking at the service coverage area map here, you can see the great coverage area... unless you have an Android phone. I was going to break down and pay $150-$180 to get an Android phone until I saw the map. With that little service area, it's just not worth it to me.
  • 411. If you are in a hurry to get a phone number, iy might be quicker to just google it with the mobile web feature, than to call 411. If you call 411, you have to listen to a commercial and it is voice automated.The 411 voice automation is typical (unlike the Straight Talk service voice automation), so you are taking your chances in getting it to "understand" you.
    There you have it. In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the negatives and I am happy with the service.
Do you have Straight Talk? What are your likes and dislikes?

Don't forget to enter my latest giveaway drawing featuring DMC Jewelry! Click here for details! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Website Wednesday: DMC Jewelry, Plus GIVEAWAY

  The holidays are nearing and between holiday parties and gift exchanges, NOW is the time to start looking at jewelry! (Yeah, like we really need an excuse to buy jewelry, hu?)
    My friend Dee is a very talented jewelry maker. She designs and handcrafts beautiful one-of-a-kind jewelry and sells it from her Etsy shop, DMC Jewelry.  She works with sterling silver and vermeil metals, as well as all gemstones, pearls, and Swarovski crystals which are genuine and of the highest quality. Have you always had a piece of jewelry in mind, but you can never seem to find it? Dee will work with you to create a piece custom for you. DMC Jewelry also offers FREE shipping on all earrings!
    Before we get to the giveaway, look at just a sample of her gorgeous creations!

Now for the Giveaway!
One lucky reader will receive this stunning pair of earrings, beautifully gift wrapped, courtesy of

"Black Magic" 1 1/4 inches
These earrings feature Swarovski clear crystals showcased in intricate filigree settings. Finished with sexy black briolettes for light catching movement. Elegant yet flirty, these chandeliers will compliment that little black dress or add a level of sophistication to more casual wear.
Valued at 25.00

We are using Rafflecopter for the giveaway, so just follow the directions below. Make sure you do the first three! Follow mt blog, "Like" DMC Jewelry on Facebook, and leave the comment to enter. Then you can add more entries by following the other directions! :-)  Sign ups begin Wednesday, November 2nd! So if you are seeing this early, be sure to come back! 

Tuesday Review: Wendy's Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

    In an attempt to eat healthier, I ordered a salad during a recent trip to Wendy's. Sure, I WANTED a Frosty. And, of course, I WANTED fries to dip into my Frosty. Which, by the way, if you haven't tried that yet, you have to! It is pure awesomeness! But I digress. Like I said, I ordered a salad... a boring ol' salad... or not!

   Have you tried Wendy's salads? During the summer, I tried their... um... I forgot what it was called. oops!. Anyway, it had the strawberries and blueberries and chicken in it and it was really yummy! I got a coupon on Facebook and thought I'd give it a try. So, this time, I was excited to try a new salad from Wendy's. I chose the Apple Pecan Salad. I ordered the half salad, mostly because they are a bit pricey. It had chunks of red and green apples, dried cranberries, yummy grilled chicken and blue cheese crumbles. It had a packet of seasoned pecans to add over the top. The dressing was a pomegranate dressing and it was delicious!

   The half-sized salad has 340 calories, 18g of fat (which seems a little high, but you have to remember that some of the fat is good fat from the pecans... at least that's what I'm telling myself!), 31g of carbs., and 18g of protein.
    The full sized salad has 560 calories, 27g of fat, 50g of carbs., and a whopping 36g of protein!

    Which fast food salads are your favorites? I would love some ideas!

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