Wednesday, November 30, 2011

$$ store bEnTo finds

ham sandwiches, carrots w/ ranch (in the yellow container) grapes cut in half
This year I have not been doing as well when it comes to creating fun lunches. ): I don't know why. Just lame I guess. lol Or maybe it is that my mornings are so crazy rushed? Yeah lets go with that one!!

My attempts have been kind of sad but I have tried to do something fun when a holiday comes up. Basically when an idea works itself out and I don't have to think about it.

One of my favorite parts of bento is all the cute little extras that go in. Picks, condiment containers etc.

not sure why this photo wouldn't turn

Since I am cheap, I like to look for fun things in the dollar section, or at the dollar store. While I was perusing the .99 store for Thanksgiving items, I was excited to find some fun little things for Christmas.

I grabbed 4 of these little containers. Because their sandwiches were on rolls, they fit in really well.

In the toy section, of The Dollar Tree, they had a little tic tac toe type of game, which had gingerbread and Santa (looking) picks to use. So instead of using them for the game...they were used as picks.

I also found a star sandwich cutter at the Dollar Tree. My kiddos love these (:

So have you found any fun bento items lately? Or things that can be used in lunches? I would love to know (:

Winner Winner

So we have a winner...thanks to the winner of the Carmex gift package is....

Jessica Manning (:

I recieve almost daily, items to review and giveaway. So even if you didn't win this never know when it will be you!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

PB Banana Bread

Why is it that some times when I buy bananas, they are gone 30 seconds after they hit the fruit bowl? Then others, they sit on the counter and go brown?

Well, like most women, I refuse to throw them away and either put them into the freezer or turn them into banana bread or smoothies.

Everyone in my home loves plain, ol' banana bread, but I am always trying to find ways to change it up. My children do not like nuts :( and so I usually have to make it without my beloved walnuts.

I found this recipe and we all rrrreally enjoyed it!

**Peanut Butter Banana Bread **

Preheat oven to 325*

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 bananas, mashed ( I actually used 3 because that is what I had)
2 cups flour
1 tsp soda (which I totally forgot about, oops!)

In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar. Add eggs, beat well. Stir in peanut butter, mashed bananas until well blended. Add flour and soda. Blend until combined. Grease loaf pan and bake for 70 minutes.
* My daughter really wanted chocolate chips thrown in so we added those as well*
**My oven usually tends to be slow, but 70 minutes was just a little too long for mine. So I would recommend you check for doneness after an hour**

This is my first time linking up to Make a Home over at Linda's Lunacy. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, head on over!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Feelin' Feminine Friday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I sure did and I am enjoying all my leftovers (:

Feelin' Feminie Friday  has been on hold for the past few weeks but is back up again today. So I am taking the chance to join in again. If you are interested in participating, head on over to The American Homemaker.

Over Thanksgiving, I sat down with my husband and watched Captain America. The movie takes place during WW2. I have always loved this era. Something about the Greatest Generation, just gets me everytime. I love to read books, watch movies or hear about that time period.

I think what I love the most is how everyone supported the troops, in any way that they could.

I can not even tell you how many times I have tripped over these!

You might be thinking what on earth does a Super hero movie and war have to do with feeling feminine, right? Well I will tell you why...

Tomorrow my sweetheart leaves for a military field exercise. I don't know how long he will be gone, or when I will hear from him.

While he is gone, not only will I be Mom and Dad, I have that added job of keeping his morale up. While I can't send any pkgs, I have spent the past few days getting him magazines, snacks and movies to take with him. Taking care of my soldier, makes me verrry feminine (:

While you are here, please sign up for my giveaway. Currently there are only 6 entries so your chances are very good! You can find the link here

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Taking a break from the kitchen, to wish all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so grateful that my husband is home with us this year.

I am so grateful for my children and the laughter and joy they bring into our home.

I am so grateful for this season and the chance to think of all the many blessings I have.

Hope you all enjoy your day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Truly Awesome?

My kids have really gotten used to me getting fun packages in the mail.

While I am always thrilled to recieve items to review, they haven't always been impressed. Laundry detergent, air freshners, cleaning products...

But when you get a box of chocolate chip cookies, they are all over it!!

I recieved a box of Kroger's "The Truly Awesome Chocolate Chip  cookies" to try. While Kroger has a variety of private label items, they have recently launched their "Truly Awesome" line. There are a few other "Truly Awesome" products with more on the way!

The claim on these cookies is, "tastes as if your Mom made them".

Now in my very humble opinion, there is nothing than a homemade ooey-gooey cookie fresh out of the oven with a huge glass of milk.

So how did these cookies stack up? I will let my boys tell you...
"We love cookies!!"

"I would eat them again"
"Yours taste a lot better"

"What am I supposed to say?"

In the end, 2 of the cookies were left on the counter, unfinished. While they love cookies, and enjoyed sampling, mine still got the best vote. However, when asked if they would suffer through eating them again, they said, "I guess so."

Out of the mouth of babes...

**I recieved these samples from Kroger (and their family of stores) to try out. I was not financially compensated for my review. All opinions are 100% mine (or my family).**

10 shop local ideas

You may have read my last post and felt like you want to shop local, but just aren't sure of what you can do.

Now I want to go on record as saying, I am not AGAINST mass merchandisers. I am a frequent shopper in many of them. However, I also know how much those little purchases, at your local stores help. So here are just a few ideas to help keep some of your Christmas budget local...

1. Going out shopping? Hire a babysitter! There are many looking to make a little extra money, and they are not all teenagers. Do you know a mother with older children? Or a friend from church, school, work?

2. Hire a housekeeper. This time of the year is so crazy busy, think of hiring someone to come in and help you out a bit. Maybe for a special night (party?) or to help you get some of those big jobs done.

3. Hit up a bakery, instead of the grocery store. Need pies? Cookies? Or other sweet treats for your holiday table? Go to a local bakery instead of grabbing one out of your grocery store!

4. Tired after a whole bunch of shopping? Head to a local restaurant for that lunch/dinner.

5. While I don't drink coffee myself, many people rely on it to keep their energy up while shopping. Once again, go to a local place instead of a big name brand company that rhymes with shmarbucks.

6. Hire a local friend or photographer to take your family picture for a Christmas card, instead of heading into a studio.

7. Many places, while have a "name brand" company are individually owned and operated. For example, our local Hallmark is owned by a local family. I can still use my Hallmark coupons, but am helping to support a local store.

8. Attend a craft fair. People are selling things they have made and they are neat, one of a kind items! I love attending craft fairs.

9. Buy gift certificates to your local stores. Who wouldn't love to recieve a gift card for a local bakery or coffee shop? Think teacher or neighbor gifts, people who live local and would really enjoy it.

10. Host a party for your favorite direct sales company. Earn some fun rewards and help out a friend.

Any other ideas? I would love to hear them!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shop Local

My inbox has been flooded with emails containing Black Friday ads.

I know many people who have their lists planned out and are going to be hanging out in the cold in the middle of the night.

I have stayed home on Black Friday. I have gone in my pj's to do Black Friday. I have shopped on Cyber Monday. Whatever works to get the good deals right?

Right now, the economy is in bad shape. People are struggling to feed their families, pay their bills and stay in their homes. It is a scary time for many.

So is there anything you can do? Oh yeah. There totally is.

While big stores want to make sales, they aren't personal. You are just another person. But to people with local Mom & Pop stores, it is verrry personal.

I love our area. It is fabulous. Very close to my home, is a strip mall. There are a variety of local shops but also some bigger ones. Every Halloween, the local vendors put on a trick or treat for the kids. My kids enjoy getting candy, popcorn, balloons, coupons for me, face painting...They are so generous and we have fun every year!

Over Halloween, I was able to go with my son on his field trip to the pumpkin patch. While walking through the entrance I noticed their fees. During the week, the admission was $3. Over the weekend? $12. Holy cow! That was just to get into the place. As I walked around I started adding up the costs of the actual pumpkins, the cost of food at the "snack shack". Ugh it made my stomach churn. As a family we went to a small patch run by a family who had been doing it for years. No charge to get in, they took pictures for you, they didn't even weigh your pumpkins just "guesstimated". They were so great and we had a great time.

I grew up in the Northwest and there was a take & bake pizza place that we loved. Easy, inexpensive and yummy. Well down here, I haven't been able to find a take & bake place. Then one opened up (in that same strip mall). It is a small local company that donates pizza to my kids school, has nightly specials and a frequent shopper program.

The music store, which is family run, goes out of their way to get you anything you need. Even if it means driving to one of their other stores to pick it up. They have helped me out in a pinch soooo many times. They also support my daughters music program at school.

Jason, a man who washes & details cars, comes to us. All we do is park the car outside and he comes and takes care of it all. His price is more than reasonable and I feel like he actually loses money on my nasty-mobile.

These are just a few examples of local companies. I am sure if you look around your community, you can come up with your own examples.

Shopping local is good for the economy. You spend your money at a local store, they invest that money back into their store, and are more able to support local programs. The money they make is spent at your local grocery stores or other Mom & Pop stores. All this money stays in your community.

So I like many others, are encouraging others to support Shop Local on Nov. 26th.

I know budgets are tight, but if you have the opportunity & means, consider shopping local.

**I would also like to mention those who are consultants for direct buy companies. Like Tupperware, Scentsy, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Tupperware. Oh did I mention Tupperware? Maybe that is because I sell it (: Support these women (and men) as they try to stay home with their families.

How about it? Are you going to take the challenge to shop local?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Carmex Love

****DISCLOSURE**** I recieved these items from Carmex in exchange for this review. I am not being compensated for this review and all opinions are 100% mine.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, being a blogger definatley has some perks (:

One of them is getting items in the mail to try and review.

So when this box from Carmex appeared on my door step I did a little happy dance.

Inside were 2 full sized bottles of their new body lotion and 2 trial size.

One of the lotions is for daily use and one is an extra strength formula for some of your rougher spots (knees, elbows, feet...)

Now we all know that you put lotion on right after a shower right? I slathered some on one Saturday morning and went about my business. Then as I was sitting down to do some work on my lap top, I kept smelling something really good. I looked at my air freshners, that wasn't it. I looked at my candles, Scentsy's...and couldn't figure it out. I finally realized it was my lotion!! It smelled so good and the scent really lasted! It is a very light vanilla-y smell which I enjoyed. Who doesn't like vanilla right?!

I loved that the lotion was not greasy at all. It was nice and smooth. My arms and legs were very soft.

I have really dry feet (courtesy of wearing flip flops almost every day for the last 4 years) and the Carmex extra healing lotion really helped keep them soft and moisturized.

I have loved Carmex chapstick products for a long time, but I am adding a new product to my list of favorites! Do you get dry & itchy skin during the winter months?Want to add some moisturizing lotion to your routine?

Well the wonderful people at Carmex, have generously offered to send you, one of my readers, a pkg just like the one I recieved! So what do you have to do to enter? It's easy-schmeezy (:

1. First leave a comment, saying I want in!
2. Post about it on your blog (if you have one) this will get you 2 entries
3. Post about it on your FB page/wall

**You must be a follower on my blog & on Facebook to be entered**

** Giveaway ends 1 week from today on Nov. 23rd**

Monday, November 14, 2011


This picture makes him look all sweet & innocent. Trust me, looks can be deceiving!
Thursday afternoon, I was waiting in the car rider line for my boys, when here they come...the youngest in tears.

The tears it turns out were for a very good reason...he got in big trouble at school and was scared to tell me about it. So...after a long chat with his teacher, he was not the only one in tears. Mine were of course, in frustration!!

My son, Ivan, is on the Autism spectrum. We have some verrry good days, and we have some verrry bad days. We never know what to expect from day to day. Sounds like all kids huh? lol

we had lots of colorful m&m's
Well after dealing with all of this, I decided that the only way to make ourselves feel better, was to bake. (:

Ivan's favorite treat are  M&M's. I knew we had plenty of them, so that is what we decided on.

However, I decided to take it one step further and make some monster cookies for my little monster!

Of all the recipes I looked at, the Pioneer Woman's recipe was the winner. (No surprise there huh?) So this recipe is the one I found on her site.

Preatheat oven to 375*

2 sticks of butter (I was going to double this recipe but just couldn't handle the idea of 4 sticks of butter!)
1/2 cup white sugar
1.5 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla
Combine the first 3 ingredients into a mixing bowl. Cream together. Add one egg, and then incorporate completely before adding the next. Do the same with the next egg and add the vanilla.

In a seperate bowl combine
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1.5 cups of oats.

Combine wet & dry ingredients.

Then add...whatever you want (:
choc. chips
pb chips
toffee bits
butterscotch chips
nuts (my kids don't like nuts in anything! boo!)

Once you have put your additions in, andd 2 1/4 cup of rice krispies. Don't mix too much at this point because you still want your rice krispies to be somewhat crunchy!

Bake until golden brown. In my oven (which I feel is a little on the cooler side) it was about 13 minutes.

I hope you make them & enjoy them with your little monster(s)!

Friday, November 11, 2011


My boys getting ready to put flags on the graves of veterans.
Happy Veterans Day to All! Take time today (even though it is almost over) to think about the freedoms we enjoy, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect them.
Why can't boys ever just take a nice picture?

Very fuzzy but they were looking for the marked graves to place the flags

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's for lunch?

My 9 year old is a sweet, quiet boy. He doesn't cause problems at school. And yet, he seems to be the one that always gets picked on!! Why is that?!

He came home from school one day and said, "Mom, people keep stealing things out of my lunch!" Apparently every time he looks away, he finds things missing.

But the final straw came the other day when he came home and told me, "Mom, someone took my lunch container, and kept shak ing it and putting it upside down!" I was so upset. Imagine if I was actually good at making Bento lunches. I would be pretty ticked off that all my hard work had been ruined by some little juvenile deliquent...I mean some young child at school who doesn't know better. He then added, "You know what else? They were GIRLS!" So I imagine that it was more to get his attention then anything. My husband's response to all this? "Quit making him such cool lunches."

My lunches are nowhere near as cool as the ones you can see over at What's For Lunch and I could only find one current picture...and it is from Halloween! Oh well, I will have to better this week (:

Even though Halloween is over, this is the lunch I made for them

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winner Winner

We have a winner (: I had planned to pick the winner at 6:00 but thanks to grumpy, stinky little boys, I had to wait until now. So without further ado...the winner of the free item coupons is

Anna Lory

Congratulations Anna. I am 99% sure I have your address but just in case will you send it to me?! Thanks dear.

For those who didn't win, don't worry. I have 3-4 giveaways coming up soon. So stay tuned and keep coming back for more!

garlic chicken puffs

Saturdays around our house are known as "Appetizer night".

This is also the day that I use up any leftovers.

The kids love being able to have a variety of items to choose from... mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, pigs in a blanket...

My husbands game also fell on Saturday night so I decided to make something yummy for him, while he watched.

I saw a post on Pintrest for these Garlic chicken puffs, and realized that I had written the recipe down before (:

Unfortunatley, they were gone before I even got a chance to snap a picture! So here is the direct link from Tidy Mom!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

menu planning

I was in Wal Mart the other day, when I found this magnetic dry erase board.

I had an idea for it, and so far, it has been working pretty well.

It is now my menu planning calender.

5:00 is the bewitching hour at our house. My husband isn't home from work yet, kids are getting hungry, we are doing homework, and getting ready for any is just crazy.

So now when I meal plan, I do it by my calender. For example:

Mon & Tues are pretty quiet days around our house. We do have family night on Mondays but unless we are going somewhere, it is not a rush. So I will plan something more "time consuming" for dinner.

Wed & Thurs are very busy. We have evening activities and run around like crazy. My boys also get out of school early on Thursdays. They are just busy days and leave me tired. So on those days I use my crockpot, a freezer meal, or something rrrreally easy like soup & sandwiches, hot dogs...

Fridays are a total relax day. We are all kind of doing our own thing and so it is usually a pizza night, leftovers or kids pick their own.

Saturdays are...well whatever works.

Sundays we don't get home from church until 4:30 so I try to do a crock pot meal or a freezer meal. We are all starving by the time we get home & no one wants to wait very long!

So I have started using this board to plan my menu's. Ben & the kids check it every day to find out what we are having. Even though I don't follow it perfectly, it is nice to have it down. I can also use my previous ideas if I am having a hard time figuring out what to serve.

I told the kids (and my hubby, of course) that if they have any requests to write them down. Well one day as I was walking by, I found a lot of the things I had written down, replaced (in my kids handwriting) with McDonalds or Panda Express.

Everybody is a comedian (;

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review & giveaway

Aren't those cute? I love the snowflakes!

Ahhh the holidays. They are rapidly approaching.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. A beautiful place to live. With views of mountains, a river, tall pine trees and beautiful colors. Every season is represented in it's finest. Summers were spent in the warm sun. Fall was met with many colored leaves to be raked. Winter was cold with snow and chilly temperatures. Spring brought rain and later warm weather.

The perfect place to grow up. Sniff, sniff! I miss it!

Being military we have spent the holidays in Virginia, Guam and now California.

Doesn't Guam just scream winter/ Christmas?
We lived on Guam for 3 years and not one of those Christmas's rrrrreally felt like Christmas. We wore t-shirts & shorts, spent afternoons on the beach...I would start cranking up the A/C so that we would have to bundle up!

Whether you are in a tropical climate, or in an area with snow up to your roof tops, there are just certain things that remind me of the holidays. Baking, snow, Christmas trees...and yummy smells.

I am a big candle girl but they are not always safe to leave around with children.  That is where Renuzit Air Fresheners come in!

I was given two of their new holiday scents to try out. They are very easy to use, just simply peel the back off the gel disk, and slide it into the holiday holder.

I have been using the winter berry!

Every time I walk into the living room I get a whiff of the yummy smells (:

The generous people at Henkel have provided me with 3 free item coupons to share with my readers. So you can try it for yourself! So... how do you enter?

1. Leave a comment on this blog sharing what your favorite scent is (whether an air freshner, Scentsy, candle...whatever)

2. If you are not already a follower on Facebook, do it now and that includes an extra entry.

3. If you are not a follower of my blog, follow now for an extra entry.

****While I recieved the Renuzit air freshners to try out, all opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.****

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